Noise Pop 2013

Noise Pop 2013: YACHT, Shock, and Future Twin at Slim's

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When I went to see YACHT, a couple years ago during the Treasure Island Music Festival, it was playing outdoors in the afternoon, and it seemed like the wrong time and place. Last year at the Fox, the conceptual electropop band seemed stifled by the combination of the large venue and sparse crowd, and also mired by the same lackluster audio conditions that made headliner Hot Chip sound like it was playing underwater. But Saturday at Slim's, on my last night of Noise Pop, it seemed just...

Fuck, I've wandered into the Goldilocks cliché. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: Califone, 'Scene Unseen,' and DIIV

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Will 2013 be the year that Noise Pop began downsizing? Or, is the festival simply adjusting its focus towards smaller, rising acts? Either way, this year's lineup was surprising from the get-go, eschewing the name-brand, Flaming Lips-y headliners in favor of rising, blog-friendly outfits like Toro Y Moi and DIIV. Sadly, I couldn't occupy nine venues at a time, so here's a rundown of the Noise Pop shows I did see this past weekend.

CALIFONE
Having listened to Califone's records for over a decade, yet never seen it live, I was curious about the band's strategy in translating its studio material to the stage. From its introductory statement, Roomsound (2001), to the extended freakout-jams of Heron King Blues (2004), to last year's Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People, Califone's sound has always been production-oriented, augmenting the rustic twang of blues and roots music with an equally faded, rusted, precarious palette of electronic sound. No one merges the old and the new quite like Califone in the studio; the band's records are visionary, but sadly, its live show didn't quite measure up. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: The Crystal Ark at the Mezzanine

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"Dude, a satchel? That's the gayest shit I've ever seen."
"What?" I asked.
"Your purse," he said, pointing to my camera bag, as his apparent girlfriend giggled and tried to cover his mouth. "That's so fucking gay. Are you from America?"
"Thank you," I said, as I finished putting in my ear plugs, mostly disinterested but half curious what he made of the two guys making out 10 feet across the dance floor.

Given that the last time I was in this situation, at Mezzanine to see NYC's disco band the Crystal Ark supported by "San Francisco's coveted queer DJ collective" Honey Soundsystem, was during Pride weekend, this was an odd encounter. But I'd already expected the crowd to be a little off, given that it was seemingly a late addition to the Noise Pop Festival and had to compete with packed, sold-out events in the vicinity. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: The Thermals and Dirty Ghosts at Rickshaw Stop, Bender's happy hour

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I first learned of the Thermals in 2005 from the DVD series, Burn to Shine, in which bands play a house that's set to be demolished. In an unlucky Portland, Oreg. home, the pop punk trio – by then together for just under three years – bounding with energy, played exclusive single "Welcome to the Planet.” That particular Burn to Shine installment also featured live, untouched performances by Sleater-Kinney, Mirah, the Decemberists, and the Gossip. A basic slice of life in Portland that year, all under one soon-to-be-gone roof.

Friday's Noise Pop show at the Rickshaw Stop celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Thermals' very first album, More Parts Per Million (2003, Sub Pop). And while it's now all these years later, and the band has since released a decade's worth of records building to 2013's Desperate Ground, the Thermals have maintained a joyful, power-pop exuberance and nasally shine. The Rickshaw crowd pogo'd off its feet to every song, nearly in unison, matching the excitement of the band on stage, even causing a brief kerfuffle near the end. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: !!!, White Arrows, the Mallard at Great American Music Hall

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It's hard to be Nic Offer. Not because he's a tortured artist struggling with celebrity or some other cliche, but because he busts it on stage in a way that's difficult to match. A couple songs into !!!/Chk Chk Chk's Noise Pop show at the Great American Music Hall last night, the lead singer and number one dancer hustled along the row of tables between the crowd and the stage. "I need my catwalk," he said, picking up all the glasses, water cups, and beer bottles along the way. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: R. Stevie Moore is cool, plays Bottom of the Hill

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R. Stevie Moore is cool. When was the last time you saw a 60-odd-year-old* man standing on stage shouting "where my bitches at" and repeated calls of "swag"? That kind of thing never happens.** (Though it did last night at the Noise Pop show at Bottom of the Hill with Moore, Fresh and Onlys, Plateaus, and Burnt Ones). Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: Cruel Summer, Lake, and the Blank Tapes at Hemlock

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It's a low-key kind of Noise Pop year compared to the past three or four, without the huge, attention-grabbing headliners of yore  (looking at you, Flaming Lips at Bimbo's), but Wednesday's show at the Hemlock Tavern could have been nuzzled in nicely in any very early NP lineups, which is what made it feel authentically true to the inherent spirit of the festival.

No pomp or glitz, no big names or sold-out, packed-to-the-gills chaos. I initially went to see Olympia, Wash.'s Lake, a twee, lo-fi indie pop quartet with great hooks, but found much enjoyment out of the two bands that sandwiched that act (Cruel Summer and Blank Tapes), perhaps even more so? Read more »

Just chill

On the cusp of headlining Noise Pop slots, Toro Y Moi releases an album equally inspired by J Dilla and his new Bay Area home

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC Four years ago, in the waning days of the aughts, the befuddling adlib term "chillwave" forged in the throes of the blogosphere, accompanied nearly every story about acts like Neon Indian, Washed Out, and Toro Y Moi. For the uninitiated, chillwave is a cheap, slap-on label used to describe grainy, dancey, lo-fi, 1980s inspired music, and most importantly is a disservice to any band associated with it. Luckily for music writers and listeners alike, this term has died a relatively swift death.Read more »

Which Noise Pop show is right for you?

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It’s all about choice, people. Noise Pop is a well-oiled festival machine at this point — now in its 21st year — cranking out dozens of concerts, nightlife happenings, film screenings, culture club events, photography showings, and all that good stuff we’ve come to expect from the homegrown indie fest. But given all those choices for the week of Feb. 26 through March 3, restless souls such as myself always tend to feel a bit well, overwhelmed. Read more »