If you’re a fiend for giant festivals — i.e, you didn’t bat an eye at this year’s Coachella prices, you live for the time-management Rubik’s cube that is trying to see as many bands as possible on different stages with conflicting set times in a crowd of 10,000 inebriated people — well, more power to you.
If you’re not? Come sit with me.
It’s no slight whatsoever when I say my favorite thing about Noise Pop — the annual Bay Area music and film festival that runs from Feb. 17 through Feb. 27 this year — is its scant resemblance to a traditional festival. Unlike an overblown weekend in the desert, Noise Pop is a 10-day fest that takes place at independent venues throughout San Francisco and the East Bay, at venues as small as Bottom of the Hill and as large as the Fox Theater.
This structure has benefits that trickle down. Those venues (which need your support more than ever) make money; people use public transportation (hopefully), and patronize local bars and restaurants before and after shows. Remember, a healthy nightlife scene is one attribute of a healthy city.
Now in its 25th year, Noise Pop has also expanded its range considerably: what began in a pretty cozy indie-rock and -pop zone now boasts hip-hop, folk, metal, electronic music, and more (not to mention the film offerings, which are worth perusing on their own). Only problem is, other people have noticed it’s a pretty darn good festival too — which is why many shows have already sold out. Never you mind: Here’s a handful of great shows to which you can still buy tickets.
Feb. 22: Diet Cig, Plush, Joyride! and Shutups at Brick & Mortar Music Hall
This stacked indie-pop lineup is sure to be full of cool kids — but if you think you’re too cool to dance, you might wanna stay home. Diet Cig (whose first full-length is due in April) is one of those duos that has the sweet, twee energy of a band three times as a big, and their buzz has only grown steadily since signing to Oakland/Portland label Father/Daughter Records last year. Be sure to get there in time for San Francisco’s own fuzz-pop royalty (and F/D labelmate) PLUSH’s set as well. 8pm, $13–$15; details here.
Feb 23: Japanese Breakfast, Miya Folick, Dante Elephante, Flying Circles at the Rickshaw Stop
Another thing Noise Pop does better than most giant music festivals — that pesky, almost always imbalanced gender breakdown. This is one of several shows headlined by solo women: Japanese Breakfast is the fuzzy, personal, lo-fi side project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner; grungey singer-songwriter Miya Folick is fresh off a tour with Sleigh Bells, with a new single called “God Is a Woman.” Please don’t hit on either of them at the merch table after the show. 8:30pm, $15; details here.
Feb. 24: Hanni El Khatib, The Buttertones, The Molochs, Innovative Leisure DJs at The Chapel
San Francisco-born multi-instrumentalist Hanni El Khatib is the product of a thoroughly mixed, incredibly American melange: his father is Palestinian, his mother is Filipino, and as a young Californian skate punk El Khatib favored British Invasion pioneers like the Zombies — all of which makes for a unique brand of punk-tinged blues. His latest, Savage Times, is out this week, and this release party of sorts will have the support of his Innovative Leisure labelmates from start to finish. 8pm, $18–$20; details here.
Feb. 25: Adia Victoria, Madi Sipes & the Painted Blue, Ahsa-Ti Nu at Bottom of the Hill
If Adia Victoria hadn’t already won me over with her debut album, last year’s Beyond the Bloodhounds, or her Tiny Desk Concert, this photo she posted on Instagram on Valentine’s Day would’ve sealed the deal. Fusing Delta blues with Afropunk, steered by her powerful voice and her electric guitar, the Nashville-based musician is a formidable presence onstage as well. Locals Madi Sipes & the Painted Blue provide (appropriately) blue-eyed soul that should get your blood pumping as well. 8:30pm, $13 – $15; details here.
Feb. 26: Ty Segall, Shannon & the Clams, White Fence, Axis: Sova at the Fox Theater
You know what they say: Never miss a chance to see Ty Segall, always the most prolific rocker in class, tearing ass around a stage with a guitar. Okay, so maybe that’s not a common saying, but if you came of age during the psych- and garage-rock revival that took place in San Francisco during the mid- to late-aughts, you know exactly the kind of eardrum workout this show will be — especially when you add in local doo-wop/punk four-piece Shannon & the Clams, and Ty Segall’s frequent collaborator Tim Presley of White Fence. Come for the music, stay for the catharsis. 8pm, $25; details here.