If Outside Lands heralds the end of summer, then Noise Pop’s annual festival must be the winter equivalent.
For two weeks in February, venues across the Bay Area become absolutely overrun with dynamite acts from around the world and our own backyard, and this year’s festival is bound to be especially memorable given that it’s the event’s 25th anniversary.
To celebrate the first music festival of the year, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute can’t-miss, women-fronted acts rolling through town. See you out there, ladies.
At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21, at Swedish American Hall. $13-$15; swedishamericanhall.com
On the cover of Front Row Seat to Earth, Natalie Mering — who performs under the moniker Weyes Blood — reclines on a sandy shore clad in a blue silk suit and bathed in golden sunlight. Behind her stretches an ethereal landscape of mountains and sea, resembling the surrealist landscapes of her own dreamlike art-pop. Since 2006, Mering — who sounds like a cross between Nico and Vashti Bunyan — has established herself as a deft songwriter and a stunning vocalist with a penchant for the evocative and effervescent. Whether dissecting love or loss, Mering’s elastic and timeless singing cuts through with startling clarity. The results dazzle.
Saturday, Feb. 25, at Starline Social Club, starlinesocialclub.com
They’re here, they’re fearless, they’re sick of the same old chauvinist bullshit — and they’ve brought glitter. Tacocat, a quartet of Seattle’s finest feminists, mixes modern social activism with delectably sweet pop-punk. Last year’s politically minded Lost Time saw the group roast internet trolls and sing odes to the morning-after pill over punchy, ’90s-inspired guitar riffs. Longtime fans of unnatural hair colors and basic human rights, Tacocat almost always sounds like it’s having a marvelous time. Lucky for us, their insistence on inclusion means everyone’s invited.
At 7:45 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Chapel. $34; thechapelsf.com
We don’t know what it is about Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards, but calling them a “dynamic duo” somehow doesn’t do Deap Vally justice. Champions of badass blues rock since their 2013 debut, Troy and Edwards (who recently became a mother and was back in the studio within months) have truly mastered the art of the reverb-soaked kiss-off. Theirs is a world full of Black Keys-inspired guitar licks, fringe bodysuits, and ferocious bangers that tackle patriarchal norms and contemporary womanhood. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
At 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, at Rickshaw Stop. $15; rickshawstop.com
If you don’t want to take our word for it, take Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s: Last year, the fashion magazine declared Folick the “on-the-rise rocker” who ought to be seated in the front row at every Fashion Week show. Runway politics aside, Folick is an indie-rock shape-shifter whose introspective moments live happily alongside her power-pop songwriting abilities. Having found the sweet spot between understated and indulgent, Folick is stretching out in all directions — and producing some transcendent indie pop and veritable rock bangers in the process. See her now so you can say you saw her way back when.
At 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, at Hemlock Tavern. $15; hemlocktavern.com
Electropop has always been friendlier to non-dudes than, say, heavymetal. And thanks to producers such as Montreal’s Mozart’s Sister, aka Calia Thompson-Hannant, that trend shows no signs of stalling. Frustrated with the slow pace of the collaborative process within her bands, Thompson-Hannant struck out alone in 2011 to write her own version of oddball electronic music. Six years later, she’s a bonafide producer, pals with Grimes, and garnering some serious underground hype. We ‘re not trying to make a case for dropping your band and going solo, but…
At 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, at Great American Music Hall. $20-$22; gamh.com
New York City’s Crying refers to its brand of noise as “bubblegum cyberpunk,” if that’s any indication of how difficult it is to categorize the group’s hyper active guitar pop. Fronted by Elaiza Santos*, the trio puts the past five decades of music into an industrial-strength blender, mixing cheeseball pop bombast circa 1986 with arena-sized metal-by-way-of-glam guitar and upbeat indie songwriting. On debut album Beyond the Fleeting Gales, the combination is infectious and irresistible, fueled by Santos’ unflagging ability to keep it light and fun over every Foreigner-esque lick. Influence soup never tasted so good.
*Elaiza Santos identifies as non-binary.
At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at Bottom of the Hill. $13-$15; bottomofthehill.com
Southern rock has always had a penchant for the morbid side of life, but there’s something especially delicious and dark about Adia Victoria’s take on the genre. Victoria — who describes herself as a “back porch blues swamp cat lady” — first caught the attention of critics and audiences with Beyond the Bloodhounds, her gritty debut album released last year. Suspended somewhere between PJ Harvey and Howl-era Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Victoria sounds like a woman who quit taking shit years ago and found the bruising drums and wicked blues guitar to match. Get with it or get out of the way.
At 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Chapel. $15-$17; thechapelsf.com
Standing out in the perpetually overcrowded L.A. garage-rock scene is no small feat for anyone, but it’s extra impressive when you manage to do it before you get your driver’s license. Led by 16-year-old frontwoman Lydia Night — which, if we’re being honest, is the most rock ’n’ roll name we’ve heard in years — the Regrettes pen rollicking guitar-pop ditties inspired by the Ronettes, the Stooges, and Gloria Steinem. On their major-label debut Feel Your Feelings Fool!, Night makes a habit of writing bubblegum-laced hooks with lyrics that skewer gender roles and celebrate feminine power. In other words, Kurt Cobain was right: The future of rock is definitely female.
THE TOTAL BETTYS
At 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, at Starline Social Club. $13-$15; starlinesocialclub.com
Just because Noise Pop brings a sizable horde of national acts to the Bay Area each year doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of local love to spread around. Among the best of our own are the Total Bettys, a queer-as-hell pop-punk foursome known for getting the most out of their sunshine-y guitars and high-octane drumming. On the group’s most recent EP, Connect With the Couch, frontwoman Maggie Grabmeier gets real about love, singing about wanting to get arrested, tested, and lost in Amoeba together with her crush. Where do we sign up?