A tall blonde and an even taller redhead walk into a music venue. Hilarity ensues. Or, more likely, they hear exciting new music, take assiduous notes amid jostling concert-goers, and block some views of the stage with their tall, tall heads. The fruit of their labors (life is really hard when you have a press pass) is all for you: a full report on Noise Pop 2013. For six straight days, Amanda Roscoe Mayo and Sarah Hotchkiss will interview bands, traverse the city’s venues, and capture photos of the action — it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.
With so many good bands playing across San Francisco this year, double-bookings abound. While we can’t cover everything (even in tandem), we’ve made a schedule we’re actually going to try really hard to follow. Keep an eye out for us at the shows and an eye on KQED Arts for all the juicy post-show recaps. Maybe buy us an energy drink or two?
TUESDAY: February 26
Body/Head (featuring Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and Bill Nace), Horsebladder, Burmese, Noel Von Harmonson
Rickshaw Stop, doors 8:00 p.m.
Amanda: Kim Gordon and Bill Nace have created a wondrous little band known as Body/Head. Noise Pop nails it: “both revolutionaries in their own right, Gordon and Nace combine with blustering effect, intimately communicating through distorted guitars and momentary vocals outbursts.” I can’t imagine a more thunderous way to kick off this festival.
WEDNESDAY: February 27
Turning, a music documentary featuring Antony & the Johnsons
The Roxie, 7:00 p.m.
Amanda: I’m looking forward to this documentary on Antony & the Johnsons. I love love love documentaries about musicians and Antony is one of the most prolific figures in contemporary music. He is a transgendered individual who grew up in San Francisco and turns his musical endeavors into art, crafting a stage experience unlike anything you would normally find at a concert.
The Fresh & Onlys, R. Stevie Moore, Burnt Ones
Bottom of the Hill, doors 8:00 p.m.
Sarah: Let me just start by saying Amanda is the true music critic here. Lining up our picks for this year’s festival, she said things like, “Oh they should be great” or “We don’t want to miss them.” I nodded a lot. So when she gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to The Fresh & Onlys, I knew I’d be in good hands. And while I’m psyched to see this prolific local outfit wave some garage-rock washed-out guitars in my face, I’m even more intrigued by R. Stevie Moore. According to his Noise Pop promo paragraph, “Moore has to date released more than 400 cassettes and CDRs through his home label… Fans of lo-fi progenitors [that's me!] like Daniel Johnston and Jandek owe a debt of gratitude to Moore’s pioneering spirit and his devotion to the punk rock ethos.” SOLD.
The Fresh & Onlys. Photo by David Black.
THURSDAY: February 28
Family of the Year, Doe Eye, Psychic Friend, Rin Tin Tiger
Bottom of the Hill, doors 8:00 p.m.
Sarah: I have a bad habit of falling asleep at concerts. It gets so warm, it’s usually the end of a long day, and more often than not, I happen to find myself at lovely, languorous, soporific shows. Dancing might solve this problem, which is why I’m looking forward to Family of the Year’s upbeat tempos and harmonized choruses. This LA-based indie folk band brings their catchy tunes north with Doe Eye and Psychic Friend, both known for energetic live performances. I’ll be the one stretching in the back, hydrating at the bar, waiting for the go sign. I apologize in advance for stepping on your foot.
Bear Mountain, Man Without Country, Sir Sly, Popscene DJs
Rickshaw Stop, doors 9:00 p.m.
Amanda: When I spoke with Ian Bevis of Bear Mountain last week, I asked him what we could expect from an electronic dance band that plays everything live. He surprised me, saying “It’s very much a band, four on stage; I’m up front playing bass and laptop. My twin brother (Greg Bevis) plays the drums and keys. Kyle Statham plays the guitar. The fourth guy, Kenji Rodríguez plays projections, mapping images live onto these square structures synced with the music.” (You can read the full interview here.) I can’t wait to see what this looks like; I have a feeling syncopated projections will be a perfect compliment to Bear Mountains’ energetic set.
FRIDAY: March 1
Damien Jurado, Aaron Espinoza (of Earlimart), Peggy Honeywell
The Chapel, 7:00 p.m.
Amanda: The last blizzard I “survived” was in central Illinois, not far from my native Windy City. It was 2006/2007 New Year’s Eve/Day and the heavens dumped something like seven feet of snow on the ground, leaving myself, loved ones, and friends housebound for two and a half days. Conveniently enough I was trapped in a house with four musicians. Because of them and that storm I was introduced to the music of Damien Jurado. His lyrics made those cold and snowy nights feel warm and inviting. You can’t help but be whisked away into his dark indie folk sound. I’m also looking forward to checking out The Chapel, a new venue in the Mission.
Toro Y Moi, Sinkane, Dog Bite, DRMS
The Independent, doors 7:30 p.m.
Amanda: Toro Y Moi is playing two nights at The Independent and both shows are sold out. Going off last year’s set at Treasure Island, I’m confident we can expect the same upbeat, dream dance-pop grooves. This band couldn’t sound bad live if they tried. I’m most excited to see Bay Area favorite DRMS. They’ve been on my radar for a while now and a little bird told me they’ve got something special planned for the folks going to this show. Be sure to check back later for a recap.
The Thermals, Dirty Ghosts, The SHE’s, Ev Kain
Rickshaw Stop, doors 8:30 p.m.
Sarah: The Thermals and their short, smart, pop punk numbers sound like something I would have listened to in high school, back when I wore bowling shirts, Chuck Taylors, and a studded leather bracelet. I am ALL FOR revisiting this musical era of my life. And if there’s anything that I revel in more than nostalgia, it’s seeing talented ladies on the stage. Dirty Ghosts’ Allyson Baker sings over quick tempo guitar shreds and drum loops. The SHE’s are four local girls producing crazy infectious beach pop tunes like “Jimmy”. Tambourines and hand claps, need I say more?
Amanda: If you didn’t get tickets to sold out Toro Y Moi and heavy-hearted folk rock isn’t your scene, you should absolutely join Sarah at this show. The Thermals are hands down one of my favorite bands to see live. Also, The SHE’s are quite possibly the most delightful all-girl band in the Bay Area.
SATURDAY: March 2
YACHT, Tussle, Future Twin, Shock
Slim’s, 7:00 p.m.
Amanda: YACHT puts on an amazing show whether it’s midnight, 2 in the afternoon, or 4 in the morning. All I have to say is: prepare to be amazed.
Sarah: Way back in 2010, when I was still so recent to San Francisco that it was my first show at The Independent, YACHT knocked my socks off. The crowd was dancing, there were lasers, everyone was smiling, it was great. I’m bringing a backup pair of socks to this show.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, Before the Brave, Kacey Johansing
Great American Music Hall, 7:00 p.m.
Amanda: The lovely, talented, and incredibly well spoken Thao Nguyen says this show is going rock: “a lot of the people on the record will be performing live with us since they can’t come on tour. So this particular show, which is launching the tour, is going to be really special.” (You can read the full interview here.)
Sarah: The openers at this show are out of sight. Kacey Johansing’s jazzy numbers will warm up the crowd for a folksy session from Before the Brave, but the main appetizer is Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. Their “grimy shuffle” conjures feelings of warm nights and summertime bike rides. Her voice sounds like it’s coming directly from a favorite LP, even through tinny laptop speakers.
Sonny and the Sunsets, Magic Trick, Cool Ghouls, Dune Rats
Bottom of the Hill, 9 doors
Amanda: I’m really pumped to hear Bay Area favorite Sonny and the Sunsets. Frontman Sonny Smith often experiments with different genres and sounds. His newest album, Longtime Companion, dips into country and a 1950s retro California sound. I’ve always wanted to visit this era of San Francisco, now I’ll finally have the chance!
YACHT. Photo by Alin Dragulin.
SUNDAY: March 3
Caspian, Native, Boyfrndz, The Dandelion War
Bottom of the Hill, doors 6:00 p.m.
Amanda: Caspian and Native are not my typical listens when it comes to indie music. They’re of the instrumental, post-rock, ambient genres, but this is what is so great about festivals. If you’re open and willing you hear bands you wouldn’t necessarily seek out otherwise. From what I can gather, Dandelion War is a little more my speed. I know, I know, I love depressing folk music. I swear I don’t need a therapist. For me, Dandelion War might be the perfect way to end the festival and wind down on a Sunday night.
What we’re not going to see but wish we could:
!!!, White Arrows, The Mallard, The Yellow Dogs
Great American Music Hall
Thursday, February 28, doors 7:00 p.m.
Sarah: Somehow I lived in Brooklyn for years, had friends who personally knew the members of !!!, was invited to shows and parties, and never saw them play. Is fate keeping me from seeing this now-legendary dance-punk outfit? I’m even more intrigued/bummed about The Yellow Dogs, an illicit pop band from Tehran (Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance refused to approve their music).
Starfucker, Blackbird Blackbird
The Regency Ballroom
Friday, March 1, doors 8:00 p.m.
Amanda: The only show I’m reluctantly missing is Blackbird Blackbird. I’ve been digging on them lately and they’re friends of Bear Mountain so we know they’ll put on a good live show. I’ll have to catch them the next time around.
All the programming at Artists’ Television Access
Thursday, February 28 through Sunday, March 3
Noise Pop is more than just music; films, art shows, and comedy nights are all part of the package. Artists’ Television Access is screening films like Punk In Africa, a documentary feature about the political punk scene starting with early 1970s Johannesburg, and Taken By Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis, about the man “who has likely designed 80% of your classic vinyl record collection!”
Noise Pop 2013 runs February 26 through March 3, 2013 in venues throughout San Francisco. For tickets and more information, visit noisepop.com/2013.