May I first say thanks to Noise Pop for bringing a sense of urgency to my concert-going behavior. I am nothing if not a festival junkie, and the sheer mass of shows that this particular festival coordinated was awe-inspiring and more than a little anxiety-provoking for those of us who feel the need to go to everything, always. Plus: badges. There is nothing like walking around feeling like you have special access to an entire city, at 24 venues in total from Bimbo's up in North Beach to the Golden Gate Park-clad California Academy of Science.
Fresh off of a week in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I couldn't do it all. But here's how I tried:
WEDNESDAY: Die Antwoord at Regency Ballroom
This was the show I was most excited about seeing, and the South African hip-hop trio (emcees Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, and DJ Hi-Tek) were definitely worth their sold-out hype-age. Even if you can't get down with their ultra-aggressive lyrics, you can't quibble with Die Antwoord's showmanship – even while spinning around like a demented, shaved head-top and bounding across the stage Vi$$er and Ninja managed to hit every lyric like wow. Sadly, the show opened with DJ Hi-Tek's Mike Tyson-inspired homophobic rantings, and that was tough-impossible to get past. Is Hi-Tek gay? Who cares. Full review here .
THURSDAY: Shannon and the Clams at Cafe Du Nord
One of the greatest things about Noise Pop is that the fest brings new audience to local favorites – and I found, conjures up concert experiences that are a lot different than if you saw your Bay-Bays in the same old venue with the same old crowd as always. Such was Thursday night's lineup of the Soft Pack, Shannon and the Clams, Fidlar, and Surf Club. (Check Ryan Prendiville's review of these last two acts here ) It was actually my first time catching the Clams, but seeing the group slay it at Du Nord cast them in a different light than if my first time had been moshing in a room-capacity sweaty knot at, say, the Knockout. The Clams came across as a band that is expanding its reach beyond the dark rooms of the Bay Area. After the show lead singer Shannon Shaw told us that the group was in the process of recording its next album, so yay.
FRIDAY: Glass Candy at Mezzanine
I wasn't wearing neon, but Portland's Glass Candy still moved my ass out of the upstairs VIP booth we'd somehow scammed and into the throngs for the middle and end of Ida No and Johnny Jewel's set. The Chromatics are fine, but that group's live set (which we tasted pre-Candy) was the teensiest bit slow, not compelling enough to leave the cold leather fishbowl that was the booth. Not so No and Jewel, who satisfied all the jumping grindsters with ecstatic chords and No's prancing.
SATURDAY: Big Queer Dance Party at Public Works
Headliner Big Freedia canceled in a medical emergency, but the crew behind this event decided to keep the 'big' and go along with it. Was it a Noise Pop event? Besides Freedia, the schedule, venue, and lineup had remained the same, but staff at the door told me that it was no longer part of the festival, so Noise Pop badge holders had to pay again to enter. Seemed like a boner move, but I was glad to be there once I was inside, if only to check out Double Dutchess' beautiful boys getting hyped onstage. Their raybeams were reflected in the crowd for the rest of the night – DJ Bus Station John, Stay Gold's DJ PinkLightning, and DJ Laydown (Hard French crewmember Timothy Strong in his debut on the decks) kept everything really sweaty – which was great because after that much Noise Pop I had some toxins to sweat out.