Noise Pop 2019: Here are the shows you can’t miss

Noise Pop 2019Written by Molly Kish //

Noise Pop //
Bay Area venues – San Francisco & Oakland
February 25th-March 3rd, 2019 //

Noise Pop returns this year for its 27th installment with a lineup that features more than 130 acts spanning 18 Bay Area venues. In addition to the debut of the “Ear Up Global Showcase” this Saturday, March 2nd, NP2019 boasts a brand-new venue located in SF’s Mission District that’s known as the Brava Theater Center.

Attendees can still look forward to plenty of happy hours at Bender’s Bar & Grill as well as special showcases curated by DoTheBay, San Franpsycho, BFF.fm, Sea Witch Productions and Text Me Records. Plus, you can also view the “Noise Pop Festival Photo Retrospective” this Tuesday, February 26th at The Royale to relive some of the best moments in Noise Pop history through the lenses of the Bay Area’s top photographic talent.

Brava Theater Center


Brava Theater Center

The festival’s art this year highlights the Bay Area’s very own Kristin Farr, whose work can be seen on public murals, office building interiors and festival stages in SF and beyond and was even included in the Emmy Award-winning KQED Art School series.

Noise Pop badges and individual tickets to shows are still available and can be purchased here. To help you sort it all out, we have broken down the 2019 lineup and offered our top performances that you won’t want to miss below.


Noise Pop 2019 - Bob Mould

TUESDAY 2/26

  • Men I Trust @ Great American Music Hall

WEDNESDAY 2/27

  • Noise Pop Happy Hour with Coke
  • Baths @ Great American Music Hall
  • The Marías @ The New Parish

THURSDAY 2/28

  • Vetiver and Fruit Bats @ The Chapel
  • DJ Boring & Jacques Greene @ 1015 Folsom

FRIDAY 3/1

  • Saul Williams @ Brava Theater Center
  • Tourist @ Gray Area
  • Vagabond @ Swedish American Hall

SATURDAY 3/2

  • Beirut @ Fox Theater Oakland
  • Bob Mould @ The Fillmore
  • Princess Nokia @ UC Theater
  • VHS Collection @ The Independent

SUNDAY 3/3

  • Partner & Dude York @ Cafe du Nord
  • Daughters @ The Independent

Check out the monthly Noise Pop Podcast series to discover more new music and create your own customized Noise Pop schedule here.

Noise Pop 2019 - Phase 3 lineup

The Postal Service keep the nostalgia fresh with help from Big Freedia and Baths at the Greek

The-Postal-Service

The Postal Service played their third ever Bay Area show at The Greek Theatre Friday (July 26) — the supergroup had previously performed at two tiny clubs, Bottom of the Hill & the Los Gatos Outhouse respectively, in 2003 before their only record Give Up became a massive success. It was a night of nostalgia, yet The Postal Service made everything feel fresh, successfully sucking in the attention of the surprisingly youthful crowd. The audience was engaged throughout the show, a setting and mood that should be partially attributed to the night’s two openers, one that seemed completely out-of-place and another perfect.

Baths is a fast-rising electronic musician (born Will Wiesenfeld) who is touring on his excellent second record, Obsidian. Baths is the ideal opener for The Postal Service — his music is more somber and moody but his digital textures so similar. The crunchy, industrialized beats found in “Worsening” and “Ossuary” sound related to the underlying, limping baseline in The Postal Service song “This Place Is a Prison”. Wiesenfeld and Postal Service digital mastermind Jimmy Tamborello have the same knack for atypical, Nintendo glitch production and therefore are kindred spirits.

Baths

Wiesenfeld’s live show includes another performer to help with button pushing, knob turning and electric guitar. The stage production is decidedly minimalist — both artists face each other while playing muddled, industrialized sounds from MIDI pads stacked on top of the boxed they were originally packaged in. Wiesenfeld plays they keyboard live and nails his passionate, on the brink-of death lyrics with precision. His falsetto was on point & all of the electronic sampling was performed live except for the driving, minimalist beats.

The audience may have been chatting away for much of Baths’ performance, but all it took was some booty, twerkin and the first Sissy Bounce performance The Greek Theatre has witnessed to get everyone on their feet. When looking at the bill for the evening, it was hard to gauge how a Postal Service crowd would react to Big Freedia, the Queen Diva of Bounce. Bounce Music is a rap-based hip hop subgenre from New Orleans, heavy on bass with a NOLA second-line mentality — hence the booty.

Big-Freedia

If ya got it, shake it — bouncing female booty while wearing short shorts or tight spandex is virtually synonymous with Bounce music itself, and Big Freedia understands this historical aspect. The Queen Diva has worked the art of booty bouncing into live production art, as her dancers know how to put on an entertaining show that is exciting and fun to watch.

The dancers performed upside-down booty-rocking from handstands, ran the booty train with Freedia as the locomotive and climbed speakers and lighting pillars to shake that ass. It was anything but boring, either making you dance or ask “what the fuck am I watching.” The wild, random featured act was joined by Postal Service leader Ben Gibbard for some booty shakin’ to end the set — it was the final night Big Freedia opened for the headliners on this tour.

The-Postal-Service

Big Freedia ended up prepping the crowd perfectly for The Postal Service, getting everyone’s attention turned toward the stage. The crowd was attentive during The Postal Service set, adding harmonious sing-alongs to the group’s biggest songs. Some of these moments were spontaneous, others were encouraged by the performers. Opening song “The District Sleeps Alone Night” elicited a perfectly blended sing along with the line “I was the one worth leaving” — but show closer “Brand New Colony” ended the night in a most memorable fashion. They ended the concert by encouraging the audience to join them in continuing “Everything Will Change” a cappella — and The Greek Theater patrons obliged Gibbard wholeheartedly. He counted out the four beats in the measure before signaling to the crowd to yell the line, and it was clear the frontman was pleased with the participation after the final notes had been played.

The set was performed tight and cleanly — the foursome is clearly honed in at this point of the tour. The mid-set cover of Beat Happenings song “Our Secret” was a highlight. The track built then segued into atmospheric territory — it was a long song but ended right as it was starting taking off. Gibbard jumped into press row for the set ending “Natural Anthem”, leaving the rest of the group to awkwardly leave the stage for the encore.

The-Postal-Service

Once again, Jenny Lewis is the MVP. She’s so present in the moment while in control of her craft. Gibbard was enthusiastic and might be one of the worst dancers in live music today. But, he owns his stage presence with gusto, and it makes you realize one possible reason why he shifted from electro-pop to more indie-laden fare with Death Cab for Cutie.

At one point, Gibbard sincerely thanked everyone for being there, saying “We know you have many options for your concert dollar. Thank you for not choosing Justin Bieber,” playfully referencing the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z mega-show happening at Candlestick Park across the Bay. While that comparison is weird, frankly, everyone present at The Greek Theater Friday must have had a couple goose-bumpy moments thinking back to a time ten years ago when they first listened to The Postal Service.


SETLIST:
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
We Will Become Silhouettes
Sleeping In
Turn Around
Nothing Better
Recycled Air
Be Still My Heart
Clark Gable
Our Secret (Beat Happening cover)
This Place Is a Prison
There’s Never Enough Time
A Tattered Line of String
Such Great Heights
Natural Anthem

Encore:
(This IS) The Dream of Evan and Chan
Brand New Colony

New Music Tuesday: Laura Marling • Mount Kimbie • Baths • CocoRosie

NMT-Laura-Marling
Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Was An Eagle”
“Saved These Words”
“Where Can I Go”

Album Highlights: Sophisticated 23-year old folk troubadour Laura Marling has a remarkably prodigious output since her first record Alas, I Cannot Swim, which was released in the UK in 2008. Fast-forward to her fourth and best LP in five years Once I Was an Eagle, and it become less and less hyperbolic to declare Marling a virtuoso songwriter, a living legend in the making. The English performer’s distinct vocal range, including the gurgle-tinged Kermit the Frog voice on the baritone introduction of “You Know”, tees up the high notes, making them all the more effective. There are a handful of classics on the sixteen song (!) LP with “I Was An Eagle”, “Master Hunter” & “Where Can I Go?”, but Marling’s biggest success here is creating a cohesive piece that thrives as a whole, not a collection of individual songs. Once I Was An Eagle quickly establishes the illusion of a continuous performance, as Marling doesn’t allow the songs to fully end for the first four tracks, a span of 18 minutes. The tracks transition ever so smoothly to the next song, and Marling proved the first four tracks are meant to be ingested as a suite of songs by creating a breathtaking 18-minute music video to accompany the opening section of this album (view it above). This record doesn’t have too many over-the-top, standout moments – instead it’s steady and successful throughout.

Album Lowlight: A little trimming would have helped with excellent LP – some of the slower ballads like “Little Love Caster” and “Interlude” could have been cut to create a tight, 12 track classic. But hemming and hawing like this is trivial – Once I Was an Eagle is one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year.

Takeaway: At this current pace, Laura Marling seems to be a name that can go to the top of the female singer-songwriter list with Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris & Joni Mitchell. Marling’s vocal stylings can be reminiscent of the three mentioned legends, but Marling’s messages of female empowerment, which could also be viewed as a strong feminist songwriting point of view, is common throughout her short career and even more prominent in Once I Was An Eagle. For example, in the track “I Was An Eagle”, Marling sings “When we were in love, if we were, I was an eagle and you were a dove… I will not be a victim of romance or circumstance…You were a dove and I rose above you and preyed.” In a striking analogous way, Marling reverses traditional gender roles, which is especially effective within the patriarchal world of contemporary music. Themes of regret and love lost dominate the songwriting in a more general sense; at the end of the opening suite in “Breathe”, Marling says “You wanna woman who’ll call your name, it ain’t me babe.” With such strong songwriting, lyrically and instrumentally, it should be noted how good Marling is now, not some time in the future.

~Mike Frash


Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Home Recording”
“You Took Your Time” (feat. King Krule)
“Made to Stray”

Album Highlights: Mount Kimbie has delivered yet another beaming release that screams progression and forward thinking in a populous era for electronic-oriented music. Cold Spring is one beastly departure from an incredible first LP, Crooks & Lovers, shifting ever slightly more to instrumentation over programming, not to mention much more live vocals, primarily handled by fellow British heat-seeker King Krule. This release is also a perfect compliment to all the Boards of Canada buzz generated this week, as much like BoC, Kimbie craft sonic gold in a manner and way of thinking that is all their own. So many nods to a smattering of musical styles are just subtle enough to not compromise the Kimbie sound, but one can’t help but hear elements of Jazzanova, Artful Dodger, James Blake and many more.

Album Lowlight: Very few on my first half dozen listens. King Krule’s unique croon may not pull in first-time listeners with his quintessential cockney, teenage vocal style.

Takeaway: Cerebral music at it’s finest from two truly unique voices in the ever-changing landscape of post-dubstep music, Mount Kimbie won’t really ever fit neatly into a category, or even sub-category, with their ever-changing sonic approach. It really is hard to ignore the fact something special is being produced by Kai Campos and Dominic Maker while still being relatively unknown, especially in the States. The mood shifts and bobs with a whim on Cold Spring and is fully an album to lose yourself in. Pastoral feelings and minor transcendentalism are included, free of charge.

~Kevin Quandt


BathsObsidian

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ossuary”
“No Eyes”
“Miasma Sky”

Album Highlights: Bath’s second album is a well-crafted juxtaposition of beautifully produced pop beats and tragically desperate lyrics. Obsidian highlights the vocal range of Will Wiesenfeld, which fluctuates between a tenor and baritone, whimsically playing off corresponding pitches through call and response structures showcased within the track’s choruses. A generally upbeat album filled with fanciful melodies and intricate BPM layering is presented, so it’s easy to get lost within the enveloping fuzz without paying attention to Weisenfelds’ melancholy verses. Subject matter depicting internal turmoil, anxiety and emotionally devoid casual sex rarely sound so buoyant. Accentuated in poignant tracks such as “No Eyes” and “Ossuary”, Weisenfeld indulges in pitting extremely dark and jaded lyrics against a mostly lighthearted musical soundscape. An idea he’s been entertaining throughout his musical career, Obsidian draws heavy influence from fellow warped songwriter Azeda Booth, whom Weisenfeld was introduced to through friends and previous tour mates Braids.

Album Lowlight: I can’t find much fault with this album beyond issues that may arise out of personal preference or audible favor. It’s beautifully produced, has a great variety of songs and all are equally as engaging and interesting. Even the slower tracks such as “Ironworks”, although somewhat stunting to the flow of Obsidian, are gorgeous in their own right. You could tell that Weisenfeld made a conscious effort to create a playing field that both audiophiles and lyricists could meet on, and he did so in a seemingly effortless fashion. I doubt that this album will get much attention outside of the indie/electronic circles, but it should.

Takeaway: Bath’s sophomore effort is one to be reckoned with, and it should be a testament to not only Wiesenfled’s future success, but it should also be a game changer in the arena of experimental electronic music. Obsidian resonates on two completely stark contrasts, marrying a mainstream genre with a taboo mindset, and he pulls this off triumphantly.

~Molly Kish


CocoRosieTales of a Grass Widow

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“End of Time”
“Gravediggers”
“Far Away”

Album Highlights: Sister duo Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady, known as CocoRosie, are back with their 5th album Tales of a Grass Widow. The sisters’s “freak folk” style remains as evocative as ever in this album that tells tales of death and pain. Perhaps the most striking thing about CocoRosie’s sound is the vocal delivery of “Rosie”. Her voice is striking and subtle, with the kind of ferocity akin to Bjork, a definite highlight of this record.

CocoRosie’s sound is unlike anything else in mainstream music. They combine worldly elements, undoubtedly influenced by their Native American ancestry, with a beat-boxer providing a bulk of the rhythm section.

Album Lowlight: I love the beat-boxer, and think it works remarkably well on this record, but I would love to see what they could do with either a real drummer, or a DJ providing the beats. A beat-boxer can only knock so hard.

Takeaway: CoCoRosie is not well-known to mainstream music lovers, but that could soon change. Their style is unique and powerful and has been turning heads since 2003. The vocal delivery is some of the best I’ve heard in recent years, and that along makes this album a must-listen.

~Kevin Raos