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Noise Pop Tip Sheet 

Noise Pop Festival; Pound-SF club opening

Wednesday, Feb 21 2001
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Slanted and unenchanted Watching a music fan get excited about the Noise Pop Festival is akin to spotting a pedestrian wearing shorts in May: You can tell he's new to town. As Noise Pop enters its ninth year, it grows further away from its original intent -- a showcase for local and noisy pop bands -- and more toward a nebulous publicity party. Sure, there are good bands scheduled to perform, but as Jane's Addiction once said, nothing's shocking (anymore). Thirteen of this year's 64 bands played during last year's festival, while several -- Oranger, Fastbacks, Carlos -- have appeared so frequently they feel like relatives you're forced to visit during the holidays. Even some of the national acts, such as New York's Blonde Redhead, come through town so often they should be given honorary rolling blackout warning cards. (Am I the only one who thinks rolling blackouts sound really cool?)

I'm not trying to say that adding a wider variety of bands to Noise Pop is a bad thing: If someone goes to a show to hear the psych-pop of Oranger and gets turned on to the lounge-rock of Persephone's Bees, that's terrific. But so often these festivals draw the worst kind of attendee: the guy whose former frat brothers failed to turn him on to anything cooler than R.E.M. Henceforth, he looks to this officially sanctioned event ("I saw it written about in the Chronicle!") for instruction and ends up perplexed by an act like the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up. Luckily, it's not as bad as the San Francisco International Film Festival, where elderly ladies from St. John's Wood chat about their pearls and fall asleep halfway through the screenings. At least at Noise Pop, everyone's awake.

If you do want to go to the six-day event, here are a few suggestions on how to recapture the excitement of that January night in 1993 when Kevin Arnold got five of his favorite bands to play the Kennel Club:

1) Get freaky. Wear all orange when seeing the Orange Peels or Oranger, doff white stripes for the White Stripes, expose part of your legs for the Shins, hang Joni Mitchell's 1974 album around your neck when going to hear the Court & Spark.

2) Go to the early shows. Nothing tips your concert equilibrium more than watching bands wake up in the middle of their guitar solos. And afterward, you can actually go out and do something constructive, like make snow angels in the Oakland hills.

3) See a local act that you've never heard of before. Some of the best moments from past festivals have come when a nascent band suddenly finds itself onstage in front of hundreds of people. I recommend checking out the Church Steps' synthesis of singer/ songwriter pop and electronica (Friday, March 2, at Cafe Du Nord) and the Papercuts' mellow folk-rock (Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Bottom of the Hill).

4) Before quiet bands perform, stand at the club door and apply strips of duct tape to patrons' mouths. Poke straws through the tape for drinking.

5) Chug cheap beer and get rowdy. The release party for the latest issue of Devil in the Woods magazine (Thursday, March 1) features inexpensive libations and the local debut of ex-Pavement player Scott Kannberg's new band, Preston School of Industry. Please do not call out for old Pavement tunes or "Free Bird." Help make this a pleasant experience for all.

Smell the love Club closings these days are like a pig rolling in shit: It doesn't smell very good, but it seems to happen a lot. So it was rather shocking to witness a club opening in San Francisco two weeks ago. Pound-SF, a 450-person venue located far from the offended ears of loft dwellers at Pier 96, is the latest venture from Tony Carracci, owner of the Cat Club. Booked by Insipid Productions honcho A.J. Cardinal, the space will present live bands throughout the week and a once-a-month U.K. DJ night. "It's going to be the rock club in town," publicist Heather Cordes says, doing her job to perfection.

So far, however, early bookings suggest the club is aiming less toward the "cutting edge" and more toward Konocti Harbor, what with back-to-back shows by over-the-hill grunge rocker Jerry Cantrell (ex-Alice in Chains) and way-over-the-hill metal group L.A. Guns. Still, any club that puts together a bill featuring former Chicago streetperson and current medicated schizophrenic Wesley Willis and amusingly misanthropic Scottish new wave/garage band Country Teasers (Monday, Feb. 26) is doing something right. If nothing else, Pound-SF's calendar has enough bitchin' font types to keep a graffiti-on-the-math-book-scrawling seventh-grader happy. For more info call 826-9202.

Error Several readers have mentioned that it is Chevy, not Ford, that uses Bob Seger's "Like a Rock" as a theme for its truck commercials ("That's Advertainment," Pop Philosophy, Feb. 7). We're very sorry for this error, especially since it means we have to mention the nausea-inducing tune twice.

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Dan Strachota

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