Noise Pop //
Bay Area venues – San Francisco & Oakland
February 17th–27th, 2017 //
Over the last 25 years, Noise Pop has gone from being the axis of arts and entertainment in the Bay Area to an iconic celebration of independent culture worldwide. Expanding each year to include a film program, photography retrospectives and live podcasts, the festival continued to cover more new ground this year with the introduction of a day-long event that featured a yoga program, dramatic readings, live performances and a record fair.
Spanning 11 days, Noise Pop 25 drew record crowds, selling out shows and festival badges faster than ever before with several intimate, one-off performances that gave its headliners carte blanche to demo their impending festival sets for this spring and summer. Noise Pop kept the lineup eclectic and fans on their toes; we never truly knew what to expect from the 2017 roster of talent.
In a matter of almost two weeks, The Bam Team frequented many Bay Area venues to catch a number of Noise Pop performances. Find out below which were our favorites, and make sure to tell us which ones were yours in the comments section.
One of the first things Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith said when he came out onstage was, “We’re trying to be the hardest working band in America, and we’re going to prove that to you right now.” Sure, it was a bold statement, but from a band that has set out on a tour playing both its opening and main set, it was also logical. Dawes’ latest release We’re All Gonna Live, a live album follow-up to their 2016 LP We’re All Gonna Die, was a perfect lead-in to an all-out, balls-to-the-walls tour. Some bands you just have to see live to really appreciate, and Dawes is one of those bands. The real showstopper, though, was a surprise guest appearance by Lenny Goldsmith, as the show ended with the crowd finishing out the last verse of “All Your Favorite Bands” a capella to close out a three-hour set. I got the sense that everyone would have gladly taken another three hours, and if there was no curfew at The Fillmore, Dawes probably would have happily played another three hours as well. – Keeley Pedersen
Performing one of the most sold-out Noise Pop shows this year at The Independent, Electric Guest delivered a soulful that covered both of their studio albums as frontman Asa Taccone, the Berkeley native, intermittently took time between songs to give praise to the SF audience. Mentioning how it was a bit of a homecoming for him and that he always enjoyed playing for such responsive audiences and at venues that allowed him to “bring life” to the band’s body of work. Though it was the first show with new touring members of Electric Guest, the crowd welcomed the novice arrangement with open arms. Kicking off the festival with a mid-week groove, the lineup kept audience members dancing and pumped them up for the marathon week ahead. – Molly Kish
Hazel English is not your everyday rocker chick with loud, pungent sounds. She’s smooth, delicate, powerful and poised. She is also a whirlwind with either very loyal fans or those looking to discover her. But it was easy to make out in the crowd at Rickshaw Stop who the true fans were as they swayed to her music, gently singing her songs word for word without overpowering her sense of stride. Whether attendees knew of her before the show or came to discover some new music, she pulled them into her calmness and radiated a ghostly sound. Unveiling both of these qualities, English brought a mid-week breath of fresh air. Feet on the floor and eyes half closed, everyone looked like they were there to liberate themselves with her drifty sound. – Jacqueline Moore
Desert Daze Caravan
After attending Desert Daze last year, it was a sheer delight to see the event and its organizers grow to a point where they could bring a hand-selected group of artists to SF and other West Coast cities. While JJUUJJUU and Froth warmed up the crowd at The Chapel, it wasn’t until Deap Vally began to pummel us with their thick, blues-rock fuzz that the evening started to truly take shape. Who Sold My Generation was a highlight release in 2016 from Night Beats, and on this night, the Seattle upstarts certainly won over more fans as their infectious stage presence, coupled with their weighty take on garage rock, could be akin to acts such as Black Angels and even Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Temples closed the show out, taking the daring route by opening their set with new material from their upcoming sophomore release Volcano. Though the capacity crowd was receptive to the handful of fresh tracks, it was songs such as “A Question Isn’t Answered” that ignited some vicious headbanging. – Kevin Quandt
For their Noise Pop show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall that came in the middle of the work week, Diet Cig put on a hyperactive, energetic performance. The New York indie-rock duo got the sold-out crowd properly pumped up as they blazed through tracks from their forthcoming debut LP after local outfits Shutups, Joyride and Plush kicked off the evening with great sets. – Norm de Veyra
A lineup featuring California-based talent from both the north and south ends came to SF’s Rickshaw Stop for one night during Noise Pop 25. Local act Nyre got things started with their reverberating brand of garage rock echoing throughout the venue, and LA outfit Warbly Jets followed by delivering their catchy alt-rock songs. The Young Wild, meanwhile, amplified the crowd’s enthusiasm with their upbeat, indie-pop tunes. As the evening drew to a close, The Palms took the stage, showcasing their poignant songwriting and frontman Ben Rothbard’s irreproducible voice. – Laura Tsu
Seeing Kelis at Noise Pop proved to be something special. Even though it ended up being an early night at 1015 Folsom, it felt like any other late event that I’ve been to there. What was surprising was how many mashups she did with her own songs as DJ Nikki Beatnik and DJ Rashida had the room shaking, literally. Amid magical mashups featuring Migos, Daft Punk and more, the highlight of the night was definitely a remix of Gorillaz feeding into a couple verses and loops of “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” before hearing the James Bond theme song. My biggest question going into the night was why someone would tattoo a portrait of someone else on their body (Kelis was married to Nas, who infamously tattooed her face on his arm). But walking out of 1015, I realized that she had me singing along and pulled in by her energy, dancing like crazy during her entire set. I guess I get it now. – Lisette Worster
For one of its Noise Pop shows, Swedish American Hall played host to 21-year-old Australian native Tash Sultana, best known for her musical multi-tasking, dynamic vocals and her story. At just 17, she slipped into a drug-induced psychosis. From there, she began busking, finding her way back to reality through music. It has been said that Sultana’s ultimate musical goal is to teach herself to “play every instrument ever made,” and the sold-out crowd certainly got a taste of her wide range of instrumental talent as Tash incorporated guitar, trumpet, mandolin and pan flute into her set, beautifully laid over her self-generated beats. This is a one-woman show reminiscent of the most talented street musicians you’ve ever seen — the kind that make you sit and watch for a while, the kind that compels you to throw $20 into their guitar case as you walk by. That raw presence has not left her to this day as she steps onto stages around the country and soaks in praise of her completely engaged audiences. – Hailey Hosler
As one of the strongest Noise Pop bills with Emma Ruth Bundle, This Will Destroy You and Deafhaven, the three acts combined to make for a perfect sequence of post-rock into black metal that few tours are able to accomplish. This Will Destroy You, a band that commands silence as well as it does noise, found the right kind of audience for a Friday night, as fans stood entranced by the constantly inflating and deflating sense of space that their sound occupied. “Dustism”, in particular, made for a breathtaking performance by the five-piece from SF. Following TWDY, Deafheaven kicked the energy into high gear. From New Bermuda track “Baby Blue” to the title track on their 2013 LP Sunbather, the Deafhaven experience live is chaotic and calm, melodic and cacophonous all at once. Led by vocalist/conductor/hype man George Clark, the band has a remarkable ability for creating the loudest, fastest noise and melding it with beautiful guitar melodies and fascinating song compositions. After a week of live music, this night was a real highlight of Noise Pop 25. – Brett Ruffenach
It’s pretty cool to see a musician take the stage alone and draw the kind of intense attention from an audience that Julien Baker can. I can’t recall a time when I’ve seen so few cell phones out and so little chatter in the crowd. After we got warmed up with brief sets from Bobey and Miserable, Baker stepped onstage and immediately had every eye and ear in the room locked on her. Opening with “Blacktop”, Baker’s set was mostly comprised of material from her 2015 release Sprained Ankle, though she peppered in a couple of new tracks from her upcoming album much to the delight of the audience. When someone in the audience shouted “YOU ROCK!!!”, she keenly replied, “Oh good. I’m always nervous that I have lost my punk cred,” which got a good laugh. She claimed that she was nervous to see such a large crowd (which was also confirmed by a friend of mine who spoke with her backstage), but that didn’t stop her from putting on a powerful performance, showcasing her prowess as a guitar player and her range as a vocalist. – Andrew Pohl
NRVS LVRS, a band originating from SF with a powerful sound, turned enough heads to fill up the floor at Bottom of the Hill and were followed by another SF outfit in Hot Flash Heat Wave, maintained their strong sound and keeping fans stoked. AJ Dávila subsequently energized the crowd even more with the help of some members from Crocodiles, the San Diego-based band who headlined the night and kept the good vibes rolling. – Christopher Vigue
Luke and Tess Pretty, the sibling duo behind Tennyson, delivered an electrifying performance at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall for Noise Pop. Opening support came from Qrion, Julia Lewis and Starfari, who brought out rapper Niko Brahman. However, the young Canadian electronic duo absolutely stole the show with their upbeat and bouncy performance. Tess crushed it on the drums while Luke displayed his talents on the keys and synthesizer. Those in attendance were lucky to witness Luke show off his live vocals, which he hasn’t done on previous tour stops due to illness. The performance was chock full of fun samples that fans have come to expect from Tennyson: dripping water, animal noises and the instantly recognizable alarm clock sound on their popular track “Lay-by”. Tennyson truly did not disappoint, delivering one of the most high-energy sets of Noise Pop 25. – Geoff Hong
Matt Pond PA
It’s funny when one single person or band can have control over an entire crowd. And This is exactly what Matt Pond PA did so perfectly. Not only have I never experienced a band play six rather slow, soft songs in a row while keeping the crowd at a hush, but have full awareness of each breath, stroke of a cello or pluck of a guitar. He delivered such intensity that you could actually see it in the eyes of crowd members. People were there for Matt Pond PA, and it was so evident in the way the audience danced, sang and laughed along with his entire set. This crowd knew him, and if they didn’t, they were a fan by the end of the night. ‘Specks’ was the crowd’s absolute favorite song of the night. The energy was high and bodies were moving! – Jacqueline Moore
The Family Crest
There may be few things that are more enjoyable than a good ol’ fashioned, foot-stomping dance party on a Saturday night. Those who made it to the Swedish American Hall for The Family Crest’s headlining show were in for a treat. The SF seven-piece kept the energy and spirits high as the crowd enthusiastically roared its approval during an hour-long set. Even though it felt short, the band delivered a fun and loose performance. – Norm de Veyra
If you weren’t present for The Frights’ show at The Chapel, you were certainly missing out. Four indie bands played for an eclectic group of fans that ranged from the grungiest of teens to the hippest of dads. SF’s Dinosaurs opened the show and were followed by The Regrettes from SoCal. The Garden, hailing from Orange County, kept things going with a strange blend of what fans call “vada vada,” and the drummer took the opportunity to front flip twice into the crowd of ecstatic kids. To complete the night, The Frights hit the stage, performing a good number of their pop-rock songs and even taking the time to bust out a sick cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. Safe to say, the show had something for everyone during what was a great night for celebrating music and genre diversity. – Courtney Blodgett
The Radio Dept.
Tickets to see Swedish band The Radio Dept. at Noise Pop sold out swiftly once their first U.S. tour since 2011 was announced last year, which also included the release of their follow-up to 2010’s Clinging to a Scheme. Their show at The Independent showcased plenty of new songs from Running Out of Love along with their beloved back catalog. Playing precisely, their set flowed organically with fully robust sentiment. With SF-based bands Future Shapes and The Bilinda Butchers opening things up in addition to the spunky duo that is Germans, it was a night to remember. – Laura Tsu
As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. Their setlist covered some older tracks but mostly focused on their latest album IV, including a dizzying rendition of “Lavender”, a track that was made in collaboration with electronic producer Kaytranada. Throughout the set, it was clear that the audience shared just as much enthusiasm as the band did in sharing an evening at the storied SF venue as one member in the crowd earnestly yelled, “Hey, you’re doing a great job!” in between songs — and a great job they did. As I grabbed my apple and poster on the way out, it reminded me why we should be so thankful for nights like these at The Fillmore. – Brett Ruffenach
The Hip Replacements
The Mother Hips are one of those acts who have been a Bay Area staple, having shared their indie-folk tunes for 27 years since forming in 1990. Due to an ongoing injury, frontman Tim Bluhm was unable to perform, so to switch things up, Greg Loiacono, John Hofer and Scott Thunes invited Bob Reed (Overwhelming Colorfast, Oranger), Johnny Irion and Dave Zirbel (San Geronimo) to join them. They played a mixture of songs by The Mother Hips and The Replacements, calling themselves The Hip Replacements on this night, which also featured an opening set from Scary Little Friends, the psychedelic-rock trio comprised of Chris Jones, Jon Payne and Charlie Knote. Since they formed in early 2013, the band has been recognized by KQED Arts and The Deli Magazine SF. – Karen Goldman
The anticipation and excitement was high at the Great American Music Hall for the return of Denver indie-pop outfit Tennis. Just weeks before the release of the husband-and-wife duo’s fourth LP, the sold-out crowd was offered a glimpse of what is to come as Alaina Moore and Patrick Wiley performed the newest singles from their forthcoming Yours Conditionally. Also, props must go to twin-brother duo The Mattson 2. The late addition to the Noise Pop lineup made the most of their time by delivering a wildly entertaining and raucous set just prior to Tennis taking the stage. – Norm de Veyra
This was by the best performance I saw at Noise Pop. The crowd was so excited before Radical Face even walked onstage, and my jaw was left wide open by the end. The band knew how to build up each song and slow them down in just seconds. The entire show felt like a cinematic adventure, as if lyrics were unneeded and all that the crowd wanted was the beautiful sounds they were making. Conversations about suicide, domestic abuse, loneliness and depression were some of the issues discussed in between songs, which made this show truly remarkable because the band was able to share so much with us. But they also counteracted these serious issues with jokes and laughter. You could tell that Radical Face are a brotherhood. Needless to say, everyone in the audience left The Fillmore with a radiance on their face and I know that I wasn’t the only one leaving with a warm feeling inside. – Jacqueline Moore