Noise Pop announced the first wave of its 2016 lineup yesterday, and even though no big headliners have been announced yet, you can still go ahead and color us effectively excited about this first slate. Noise Pop Fest isn't just something you must hit up, but also one of the year's most vibrant events in the local music scene. Here's why:
Now in its 24th year running, February's Noise Pop Fest has always been an intimate festival where you can see artists playing before they get huge. I'm talking shit like Modest Mouse and The White Stripes at Great American Music Hall, The Shins at Bottom of The Hill, and Grimes at Rickshaw Stop. All of these were Noise Pop Fest shows in years past. Even at last year's fest, Ben Gibbard played an intimate solo set at the brand new Swedish American Hall.
[jump] Noise Pop is like our own little SXSW, taking over SF and Oakland clubs for 10 days. There's shows, happy hours, and even cool music films. My favorite part though, is if you go to a bunch of the shows, you run into the same people at a lot of them. I met some of my best friends at last year's event. While the big headliners haven't been announced yet, the first wave has some acts to get pumped about. Here's our early highlights:
If you haven't listened to the Oakland band's debut LP, Mind Out Wandering, make it your first order of business. Anthony Ferraro's project is an escapist journey into lush keys, spinning guitars and the confluence of all that is great about Oakland's emerging indie scene.
at The Independent – Tuesday, Feb. 23
I'm a massive fan of anything on the Ghostly International label. Few labels can achieve the consistent production of music + art quite like them and Beacon is a fine example of that. 2013's The Ways We Separate is a beautifully atmospheric avant-garde electronica album that doesn't sacrifice accessibility for the sake of experimentation. They'll have their 2nd LP in tow, Escapements, which comes out Feb. 2 on Ghostly, of course.
Beacon is at Bottom of The Hill (w/ Natasha Kmeto), Friday, Feb. 26
See, this is why I avoided the shitshow at Bill Graham this past Sunday. Vince opened up for Danny Brown, Tyler The Creator and A$AP Rocky. And while that's a badass slate of rappers. I'm more interested in seeing Vince headline a show where he plays cuts off his brilliant debut double album, Summertime '06. It's seriously one of the most interesting hip-hop releases of the year. I'm curious as to why Vince is slated to play the 600-person Social Hall SF, instead of a bigger house like the Regency or Warfield. I feel like I know 600 friends alone who would kill to see this dude headline a show in SF. But hey, that's part of Noise Pop's allure: the exclusivity you feel at some of these shows.
Vince Staples is at Social Hall SF – Friday, Feb. 26.
LA saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington gained mainstream recognition on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. Not only did Washington play the sax, but he was a primary figure in the album's arrangements. Later this year, he dropped his incredibly ambitious triple album, The Epic, on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. Washington is crucial to the re-emergence of jazz in the mainstream and an intimate performance at The Independent sounds like a mind-bending affair.
Kamasi Washington is at The Independent, Thursday, Febr. 25
SF Bands – Heartwatch and the return of Film School
Noise Pop does a great job of having a comeback band play every year and SF's shoegazy rockers Film School — who's run began in the late '90s and totally kick-ass — will make a return to the stage in their hometown for the first time in almost 2 years. Heartwatch has been one of the more consistent local products who've kept pushing themselves further ahead in the game. This year's Faultlines EP sees them exploring a pop rock sound that's mindful to the city from which it was born and is just a lot of fucking fun. Here's hoping for more local bands in the final Noise Pop lineup announcement next month. MOAR!
Heartwatch is at The Independent – Wednesday, Febr. 24
Film School is at Bottom of The Hill – Saturday, Feb. 27
Noise Pop Festival
Various venues, SF & Oakland