Sunday, March 1, 2015
This was a special week in San Francisco. The Noise Pop Festival took over the city’s finest venues for the past week and a half, and if you were a live music lover, if you were looking to party or if you were just looking to get back in the know of what’s what and who’s who in music today, this was the week to do it. Just as Ben Gibbard and Mark Kozelek ushered in the festival at the newly minted Swedish American Hall, Caribou closed it out with a bang at our most heralded musical shrine, The Fillmore.
[jump] The four-piece band came out in all white and bandleader Dan Snaith, devoid of his usual glasses, donned white jeans and a white shirt as the four quickly jumped into “Our Love,” the title track off of 2014’s splendid album. Snaith and his band were positioned like the four parts of one of those fortune tellers you made out of notebook paper in elementary school, forming a nu-skool drum circle of sorts with synthesizers, a bass and drums … so many drums, in tow. As the opening song ended, the crowd erupted in glee and Snaith, behind a broad smile, was feeling the energy of a crowd that had waited over four years to see Caribou come through S.F. again and graciously said thanks.
Spectral sound and smoke of all kinds filled the room as a spectacular light show began it’s dizzying dance for the night. Thunderous drums and deep bass hits rattled the crowd from the inside into “All I Need.” You could seriously feel the bass rattling your heart as the crowd raucously danced. There were even a couple dancers dressed in full-blown furry costumes, a feat which surely won’t escape internet notoriety.
But through all of the dancing, costumes and jumping, from one of the most genuinely excited crowds I’d seen at a show in San Francisco in years, I couldn’t help but ponder on what it is that Caribou does that set this experience apart? Could it be the sheer impossibility of how many different drum sequences the band presents, both synthesized and instrumental? (Four Tet might be the only other contemporary who can pull this off.)
On a higher level, there’s something about Caribou's music that connects with the listener. Seeing the unique smiles and exuberance on the faces of the crowd kept me thinking that there’s a quality present in Caribou that not every artist has. Everyone just seemed to be themselves within the music; whether they were in a furry costume, or latching arms with friends and jumping in a circle together. And maybe it’s partly due to Snaith’s less than intimidating appearance? He’s on the underside of 5’9”, wears an approachable smile and sports a Mr. Burns haircut. Not the sculpted and model-like look that other electronic musicians carry. His is populist electronica.
With the way he grins, you can tell Snaith loves what he's doing. Coming off of three sold-out gigs in L.A., he was riding the high and the people were feeling it. “Can't Do Without You” was the easy climax of the night and Snaith even busted out a recorder for 2010’s hit, “Odessa.” The lone encore track, was an extended version of “Sun” and the dancing (didn’t know an SF crowd still had it in ‘em) never stopped.
It was a fitting end to the festival. For those who experienced the event as a whole, the friends you made at the beginning, were there with you at the end. You know that connection you make with the people you spend a crazy three-day music festival weekend with? Noise Pop is no different, except it’s spread out over a week and a half. We go about our lives and do our work during the day, only to re-convene in one of the many wonderful musical pockets of the city at night. And we connect. Just like Dan Snaith manages to connect with the crowd like few can.
— The guy behind me before the show started name-dropped every indie rock concert he had been to for the last five years. He came with LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Caribou (of course), and just kept going. If his goal was to make everyone around him jealous, he succeeded. Can’t hate too much though, dude danced with reckless abandon.
—I hadn’t realized how young opening act Koreless is. The Scottish producer/DJ has become a favorite since I discovered him through his collaboration track, “Osea” on SBTRKT’s latest album. It shed new light for me on how SBTRKT’s Aaron Jerome made a conscious effort to seek out young collaborators like Koreless, Denai Moore and Raury (get to know all of them.)
— Dan Snaith is a class act. He stuck around after the show to sign records and posters, shake hands, kiss babies … okay, there were no babies, but you get the idea. Dude was a gentleman and plays the Fillmore again on Monday. Happy Craiglisting!