March 8, 2013
As you’ve probably noticed, our writers and photographers enjoyed quite a few shows during Noise Pop 2013 last week. Here’s a complete collection of links to all of the Noise Pop shows we saw during this year’s festival.
- Jason Lytle, Jenny-O, Will Sprott, Michael Statis at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall
- Paige K. Parsons’ Tuesday night photos
- XXYYXX, Teebs, Nanosaur, DJ Dials at the DNA Lounge
- !!! (Chk Chk Chk), White Arrows, The Mallard, The Yellow Dogs at the Great American Music Hall
- Ceremony, Terry Malts, Comadre, Permanent Ruin, Synthetic ID at the Rickshaw Stop
- Lovely Bad Things, Blank Tapes, Lake, Cruel Summer at the Hemlock Tavern
- The Fresh & Onlys, R. Stevie Moore, Plateaus, Burnt Ones at Bottom of the Hill
- Ramona Falls, Social Studies, Harriet, Mahgeetah at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall
- OBN IIIs, Fuzz, Blasted Canyons, G. Green at The Knockout
- Psychic Ills, Mike Donovan (Sic Alps), Föllakzoid, AAN at the Hemlock Tavern
- The Bay Bridged Noise Pop Happy Hour with Golden Void, Wild Moth, DSTVV at Bender’s
- Starfucker, Blackbird Blackbird at the Regency Ballroom
- Bay Bridged Happy Hour at Bender’s; Damien Jurado at The Chapel
- The Thermals, Dirty Ghosts, The SHE’S, Ev Kain at the Rickshaw Stop
- Jukebox the Ghost, Matt Pond, Lighthouse and the Whaler, French Cassettes at the Rickshaw Stop
- Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Before the Brave, Kacey Johansing at the Great American Music Hall
- Sonny & the Sunsets, Magic Trick, Cool Ghouls, Dune Rats at Bottom of the Hill
- Toro y Moi, Sinkane, Dog Bite, James & Evander at The Independent
- DIIV, Wax Idols, SISU, LENZ at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall
- Caspian, Native, Boyfrndz, The Dandelion War at Bottom of the Hill
March 7, 2013
Photos by Nicole L. Browner
Thanks to everyone who came out and packed our Noise Pop happy hour show last Friday! If you were there, you know how much all three bands, Golden Void, Wild Moth, and DSTVV totally ruled. If you weren’t able to make it, enjoy this photo gallery from the show.
Thanks again to all of the bands, the folks at Bender’s, and, of course, Noise Pop for the great afternoon.
Review & Photos: Jukebox the Ghost, Matt Pond, Lighthouse and the Whaler, French Cassettes (sort of) (Noise Pop 2013)
March 6, 2013
Three surprises awaited us on Saturday night at the Rickshaw for Noise Pop 2013. First, there was a line wrapped around the block by the time doors were slated to open. Second, the show started promptly ten minutes after doors opened (a rare thing for any concert). And third, the originally-scheduled opening band was not actually who they were supposed to be. Confusing? Yes.
French Cassettes were originally slated as the opening band for the evening. However, only three guys came on stage instead of four, and they introduced themselves as another band (the name of which I neglected to remember). An email to the venue confirmed that this was three out of the four French Cassettes members; whether this was a new project or not, I can’t say. But I can say that their set was very enjoyable – bluesy and energetic.
Lighthouse and the Whaler came on next, welcomed enthusiastically by the crowd, and the enthusiasm was well-deserved. The band played an intensely layered set, building up each song into a uniquely rollicking experience – a less folksy and more rockin’ Mumford & Sons.
The dichotomy of the evening became evident once Matt Pond and his band took the stage. Matt Pond has been playing music in some form since the late 90s, cultivating a solid fan base along the way. At this point, there was a clear split in the crowd: those who have been familiar with Matt Pond for some time, and those underage folks with large Xs marked on their hands patiently awaiting Jukebox the Ghost (more on that later). Matt Pond’s set was lovely and thoughtful, wherein the band played a well-curated set of both old and new songs. The crowd starting shouting out requests, to which Matt responded with something along the lines of “this is the problem with being a band that’s been around for a long time – we’ve got a lot of songs.”
Personally, I’ve only been familiar with Jukebox the Ghost‘s 2008 Let Live and Let Ghosts – specifically, the album opener “Good Day,” which has been a staple on my iPod since the album’s release. I really had no idea that the band was not only still active, but apparently very popular with the underage demographic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, nor does it take away from the band’s talents – it’s just something I find interesting and unpredictable. Members of the band took time to sign fans’ LPs as they set up, just before launching into an excellent and intricate set.
March 6, 2013
Review & Photos: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Before the Brave, Kacey Johansing @ GAMH 3/2/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 6, 2013
Noise Pop 2013 – Thao and the Get Down Stay Down @ GAMH 3/2/13 – photo by Nic Buron
San Francisco’s semi-soloist, Kacey Johansing was joined by a quartet of jazz minded players. The arrangements had a dreamlike quality that was rooted in the ground by Johansing’s confident earthen pipes. The arrangement was jazzy but the songwriting felted rooted in folk music. They created a fresh juxtaposition that felt like a natural sonic marriage. There was no gimmick to be found here.
Before the Brave are a relatively new article. With a solid EP under their belt and a strong performance, I think we will be hearing more from this San Francisco quintet. Their sound is that of a dramatic intonation of folk music, the likes of which is currently flourishing. That being said their songwriting and musicianship is more than up to muster. One of their winning qualities was that they were endearingly excited to be on stage. In a city where it often feels like “too cool” rules, their genuineness was like a fresh gulp of oxygen. As their set ended the crowd response was like a flash flood, and they earned it.
Portland’s Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside brought to town a new rough and tumble surf rock sound, which dirtied up the bubblier sound of their first record. Beyond just rocking harder they seemed to have taken on more of an edge in their musical worldview. There was the brassy onstage declaration that all music should be “noise pop, or noisy pop” and the punk howling on the aptly titled new tune “Rockability”. They only played one song from their excellent debut Dirty Radio, which leaves this fan hoping they haven’t totally eschewed their past.
Warning: For those looking to be adorned with the prize for the best set of 2013, you need not apply. It has been called early and the distinction goes to Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.
Thao was backed by an ensemble that at times numbered eight, and was potent almost to the point of exhaustion. I have seen few performers as compelling as Thao, and on this night she was unequaled. Thao has always been an exhilarating presence onstage and has persistently evolved over the years, but this set felt like an exultation of that evolution. She has reached a summit and is toasting her journey.
The highlights were in no short supply. The mercury cracked the glass as Thao and her posse stomped their way through “Squareneck” from the Thao and Mirah record. The titular front woman played the slide guitar less like a country session player and more like a hungry DJ battling their way through a DMC Championship. Thao further whipped the audience into elation while later punctuating a song by rapping two verses of Ludacris’s wildly innuendo ridden 2000 hit “What’s Your Fantasy”.
The big finale was an energetic but deeply emotional rendering of the song “We the Common (For Valerie Bolden)”. Thao briefly talked about working with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, which not only inspired the song, but the whole album. As Thao sang the final words to the song her intonation brought to it a resonant call to action – “Oh how we the common must cry”.
There was so much momentum after the set that they would have needed to drag the capacity crowd out of there kicking and screaming without an encore. The house exploded as the ensemble made it’s way on to the staged. They were joined for the rollicking encore of Learn Better Faster‘s “Body” by Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs). The encore was a dizzy bit of fun, that capped a stirring night. The journey has ended and we’re at the summit looking upon what we left in our wake.
Review & Photos: Sonny & the Sunsets, Magic Trick, Cool Ghouls, and Dune Rats @ BOTH 3/2/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 5, 2013
Noise Pop 2013 – Sonny & the Sunsets @ Bottom of the Hill 3/2/13 – photo by Jackie Andrews
I was excited to check out Dune Rats, who came all the way out here from Australia to melt ears with their slacker rock, but a single-tracking BART train from the East Bay made me late. Luckily I was able to catch the last half of their set. Self-described as a “budstep” band, they do a pretty good job of channeling the early 90s aesthetic of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Nirvana, Wayne’s World, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for starters. In other words, they are your new best friends. Seriously, these guys are FUN.
Next up was Cool Ghouls, who create energized 60s-style garage and flower power psychedelia that got the crowd moshing almost instantly. They recently played a show in the cave adjacent to Sutro Baths, so they obviously live up to their name.
Next, Magic Trick took the stage and, after a rocky start (guitars were out of tune which lead to an abrupt stop and a little bickering, followed by guitarist Noelle Cahill flipping Tim Cohen the bird with smile), they settled in with their crescendo-y ballads accompanied by thoughtful, sage-like delivery of vocals and large hand gestures from Cohen.
Sonny & the Sunsets shared drummer James Kim with Magic Trick, so set-up was quick. Sonny Smith greeted the audience and assured the crowd that it was his bandmates and NOT he who had done illicit substances when he was clearly the one who was befuddled and more than a little intoxicated. He was on fire, charmingly interacting with the crowd (“I lost my belt somehow”) and his bandmates, tossing LPs and t-shirts into the crowd, and toward the end of his set requesting that the lights be turned down to play in intimate darkness. They played all of their most rocking songs, including fan favorite and crowd request, “Too Young to Burn.” Definitely the best and most entertaining Sonny & the Sunsets performance I’ve seen yet, FTW.
Review & Photos: Caspian, Native, Boyfrndz, The Dandelion War @ Bottom of the Hill, 3/3/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 5, 2013
Caspian (Photo: Mike G.)
Photo Gallery: Emily Turner
Noise Pop 2013 has come and gone, and it ended on an epically high note. Post-rock mainstays Caspian were towering and majestic, a thing of primal beauty, on Sunday night at Bottom of the Hill, but that being said, supporting act Native was the real story of the night for me, if only because I knew nothing about them going in, and they officially earned my “best new discovery” award for the whole festival.
Oakland’s The Dandelion War opened, and they were the sole local band on the bill. It was an early show, so I missed the first half of their set. I walked in on a hard driving post-rock tune featuring a xylophone. The band’s take on post-rock is pretty standard as far as post-rock goes, except they throw in quite a bit of vocals (for a genre known mostly for instrumentals), maracas, and of course that xylophone (which actually is kind of a post-rock staple—Caspian had one too).
Boyfrndz flew out from their hometown, Austin, just for the show, so they were playing on borrowed gear, which probably contributed to the technical difficulties they experienced early in the set. But once they got it together, they locked into their groove. Their sound leans more toward pure noise rock than the rest of the bands on the bill, but the live loops laid down on almost every song by their guitarist gave their set an experimental vibe. They were also insanely loud. Last time I saw them they were on tour with their own gear, and they were pretty damn loud then too, so I don’t think that was another side effect of playing on someone else’s gear. That’s just how they like it.
Still, Boyfrndz wasn’t the loudest band of the night. I’d say Native takes that title. The band, which hails from Indiana, plays music that is equally influenced by hardcore and post-metal, to my ears. It’s a pretty original formula, and a pretty damn thrilling one, too. It helps that the band has the chops to pull off some wicked rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums, and to lay intricately arranged guitars on top with some extremely tight starts and stops. That’s where the hardcore comes in—abrupt changes not being a common feature of the post-metal genre, which typically moves at a more glacial pace—in addition to the vocals, which were exclusively shouted in a hardcore punk snarl. Apparently Native were playing mostly new material from an album they plan to release in July, and the band told me it’s all darker than their old stuff. It’s a pretty safe bet I’ll be writing about this band again come the summer.
It’s been over three years since Caspian made the trek from their home base in Boston to play San Francisco, and the band seemed as stoked to be back as their fans were to see them. Caspian is one of the main bands that gets name-dropped whenever the topic of post-rock comes up, along with the likes of Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, but their music is decidedly more ambient than those two. It’s so ambient, in fact, that there’s very little in the way of melody, and certainly nothing you’d really call a hook (not that Explosions or Mogwai are at all incorporating pop hooks, but they generally have something a little more catchy going on). Caspian still achieves the mountainous walls of delay and reverb that is a staple of their genre, but they do it in a more subtle, creeping kind of way. One minute it’s all calm and serene, and before you even realize what’s going on, the band is wailing away on some of the most epic, monolithic music you’ve ever heard.
Thanks for lots more fun this year, Noise Pop. ‘Til next time…
March 5, 2013
Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 – photo by Debra Zeller
Friday night’s Noise Pop Festival offered a chance to see a clash of styles within a couple blocks of each other, both in terms of the music played and the venues. First, I caught The Bay Bridged’s Noise Pop Happy Hour at Bender’s featuring Golden Void, Wild Moth, and DSTVV, and then hitched over to another Noise Pop performance from Damien Jurado down the street at The Chapel.
Since the event was organized by The Bay Bridged, it doesn’t feel right to gush and gush about the show at Bender’s, so I’ll keep my recap brief. DSTVV kicked things off by playing so loud their bass amp fell off its speakers, followed by Golden Void’s guitarist rocking so hard his whammy bar fell off. It was an extra-special treat to see the ridiculous guitar solos from Golden Void’s Isaiah Mitchell up close. The bar was packed, LOUD, and filled with cheap happy hour drinks – definitely a great setting for rock.
After some post-show socializing and a bite to eat along the way, a quick walk down 19th Street from Bender’s to The Chapel on Valencia took me to a venue that was about as far from a dive as possible to see performances about as soft and easy going as it gets. The vaulted ceiling and what must be an incredibly expensive sound system was about perfect for the mostly acoustic performances. The only performer that wasn’t entirely solo was opener Emily Jane White, who had a guest on stage splitting duties between synth and drums. It added a little something extra to the melancholy songs I was able to hear, and I really regretted not catching more of her set. White was followed by Peggy Honeywell, who was only accompanied by her acoustic guitar and didn’t seem to capture the interest of the crowd that was continuing to trickle in. Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart had a rather large production for just one person, taking advantage of The Chapel’s high-end video system with an accompanying video mix of various nature scenes, Espinoza himself, and even a rodeo at one point. It was interesting, but it seemed as if most of the crowd was simply waiting for Mr. Jurado.
Jurado finally came on stage with just a stool, a mic, and an acoustic guitar. I was initially disappointed that Jurado wouldn’t be performing with a full band, as he really had some beautiful arrangements on his most recent album, Maraqopa. It didn’t take long for me to forget about the band, though, as Jurado is a solo-acoustic wizard. I’m not familiar with his entire catalog, but he had me (along with the entire sold-out room) hanging on every note he played or sang. There was plenty shushing when he started playing, and shaking drinks at the bar garnered the occasional dirty look from folks in the crowd. Jurado’s face crinkles and strains as he sings, but his delivery seems effortless. From time to time, he’d go into falsetto for some guitar accompaniment, and it almost sounded like a flute.
Jurado’s entire set was outstanding, but a personal highlight for me was his bare-bones, heartbreaking version of “Working Titles” from Maraqopa, where you could hear a pin drop for his almost whispered question of “What’s it like for you in Washington?” It’s difficult to put your finger on what makes a performer like Jurado so enjoyable to watch – he won’t blow you away with his guitar picking or voice, yet he manages to connect with 200-plus people with just a voice and a guitar. Perhaps to take me as far from the start of my night as possible, Jurado closed the evening without amplification for his encore performance of “Cloudy Shoes”. It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful night of Noise Pop.
Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 – photo by Debra Zeller