The Performant: Pop up the jam


Appear and disappear at Noise Pop with Nobunny and Battlehooch

There’s a pop-up explosion going on out there, and it’s insidiously cornering the market on all our fun. It’s become well nigh impossible to stumble down the street without coming across a pop-up "gallery boutique ramen restaurant poodle salon performance space" and even more impossible to not want to avail oneself immediately of its fleeting charms. It’s the precarious ephemerality of pop-up ventures that makes them so enticing—the knowledge that at any moment the ability to tap into this particular experience will be gone forever. Granted, if you examine any particular moment in time closely, you’ll come to a similar conclusion, but sometimes it’s best to just go with the spontaneous flow, even if it’s a little bit manufactured.

How appropriately ingenious it was for Noise Pop to insert some pop-up action on the side of purveying the other kind of pop, as in music, as in the full-on winter blues-buster the festival has become, joining Indiefest as the other best reason to bundle up and brave the frosty February chill. There was the month long operation of the “Noise Pop Pop-up Shop” (say that five times fast) with Upper Playground as well as the weekend pop-up-culture extravaganza that was the “Culture Club” at Public Works. A genial mish-mash of all the popular arts—to gawk at, to buy, to make, and to listen to—Noise Pop’s pop-up experiments definitely ratcheted up their cool quotient and added a new dimension to their overall poppiness.

Of course it wouldn’t be Noise Pop without the noise, plenty of which was to be had at the venerable Bottom of the Hill, a festival mainstay. A double-header bill of Nobunny and Battlehooch (with the Exrays and The Downer Party) brought the werewolf-masked, face-painted bunny-hoppers out in force, freak flags flying proudly. And while it always inspires a certain awe to watch a man in furry dishabille pogo wildly and exhort the crowd to “Do the Fuck” themselves, the boys of Battlehooch closed the show with a satisfying bang. Less swashbuckling and more math rock than their moniker might suggest, Battlehooch’s sound bounces gleefully between influences, part Mother’s of Invention, part Devo: a solid guitar foundation swooping into psychedelic dissonance (AJ McKinley), a completely non-ironic synth (Ben Judovalkis), vocal modulations set on a channel somewhere between “Peter Murphy” and “Ivan Doroschuk “ (Pat Smith), a kickass one-man woodwind section (Thomas Hurlbut), and lyrics featuring baby sharks. Plus facepaint and a video montage of urban decay. Honesty, at this point, any band that gets hipsters to mosh like it’s 1989 gets my vote, and on that score alone, Battlehooch delivers the goods, and brings the noise. Pop.

Also from this author

  • Bee true

    The documentaries of Berlin and Beyond

  • Divining the entrails

    New Last Gasp releases explore the unsettling art of Laurie Lipton and Elizabeth McGrath

  • The Performant: Epochalypse Now