A festival in name only, Noise Pop is really just an excuse (albeit a great one) to see a diverse collection of musicians, with the only real link being the event’s bubbly-lettered logo. A scrappy counterweight to the corporate festivals that specialize in expensive ticket prices and high-prestige names, this year’s Noise Pop is headlined by anti-establishment acts like Ty Segall and Vince Staples, and takes places in small, scattered venues, not sprawling, anonymous fields.
In addition to booking big-name acts, Noise Pop does an admirable job of filling slots with local bands, either in headlining positions or in supporting roles for nationally-recognized bands. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year’s festival is the largest edition yet, with dozens of Bay Area groups included in the lineup.
Here’s a look at a few notable local acts:
Rogue Wave: A reliable fixture at Noise Pop for years, Rogue Wave (helmed by Oakland-to-San-Rafael musician Zach Rogue) makes the kind of shimmering, emotionally resonant tunes that dominated the indie rock scene in the early 2000s. Rogue Wave never quite penetrated the cultural zeitgeist like their peers Death Cab for Cutie or The Shins, but the outfit continues to produce jangly, melodic pop nuggets. Skilled masters of tastefully appropriating the past, Rogue Wave took their love for homage a step further on their latest album, Cover Me, with a set of cover tunes from ‘80s rock mainstays. They’ll play those covers and more for their Noise Pop show at Rickshaw Stop on Feb. 24.
Shannon and the Clams: Shannon Shaw, lead singer for Shannon and the Clams, is an irresistible force, leading her ‘60s doo-wop/garage group with a sultry swagger that’s impossible to deny. Schooled on the sounds of Burger Records bands and goth-punks like the Gories, Shannon and the Clams are like an alternate version of Carrie, one in which the blood-soaked teenager picks up a guitar and shreds instead of blasting everyone with her crazy psychic powers. The Oakland trio will open up for fellow scuzz-rocker and former S.F. resident Ty Segall at The Fox Theater on Feb. 27, a potent combo that will make for a particularly raucous night.
The Bilinda Butchers: If you know anything about My Bloody Valentine, then it should come as no surprise that The Bilinda Butchers specialize in making layered, anthemic dream-pop songs. Named after the guitarist of the legendary shoegaze band, The Bilinda Butchers’ songs lack some of My Bloody Valentine’s abrasive edge, but their soaring, ambitious creations leave listeners with the same woozy, intoxicated feeling. A regular presence on the local music scene, the group will be opening for The Radio Dept. at the Independent on Feb. 25.
Hot Flash Heat Wave: Much to the annoyance of locals, the exodus of bands from San Francisco has been exasperatingly over-covered in recent years, so it’s always nice to see a band like Hot Flash Heat Wave still flying their banner within the city walls. With three lead vocalists, this quartet from the Excelsior can shift from brooding, Interpol-inspired numbers to buoyant, Belle and Sebastian odes and then back to squawking, no-frills garage-rock. Always a go-to opening act for top-flight bands coming to town, HFHW will be in the middle of the bill for the Crocodiles’ show at Bottom of the Hill on Feb. 23 (a gig that also includes fellow locals NRVS LVRS.)
Hazel English: Originally from Australia, this up-and-coming singer-songwriter writes blissful, gauzy tunes perfect for driving through sun-dappled country roads. English’s penchant for aching, nostalgia-laden music is quickly making the Oakland resident a known figure in the music world. Her debut EP Never Going Home (produced by fellow Oakland musician and stylistic contemporary Jackson Phillips of Day Wave), showcased her considerable talents and garnered praise from national publications. She’ll headline a show at the Rickshaw Stop on Feb. 21. Local acts like Maggie Y/O, Tanukichan, and Elsa y Elmar will support.
Qrion: The EDM craze that briefly overwhelmed music festivals and intoxicated teenagers everywhere has been widely derided as a fleeting fad, which is sad in that it discredits its musical forebears from the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) genre. Qrion, a Bay Area-via-Japan producer, is a descendant of great IDM acts like Boards of Canada and Fennesz, making hypnotic, understated dance music that has a trance-like effect on listeners. A recent arrival to the region, Qrion will be making one of her fledgling live appearances when she performs on the opening bill for Tennyson at Brick and Mortar on Feb. 23.
The Mother Hips: Carrying in the tradition of nomadic frontiersmen like Johnny Cash while adding elements of desert-rock bands such as Calexico, The Mother Hips are the perfect soundtrack for down-on-their-luck dudes just trying to make due. The San Francisco band has been around forever, rotating between traditional rock and alt-country sounds throughout their 27-year career. They’ll headline a Feb. 24 show at the New Parish under the name The Hip Replacements, because guitarist/vocalist Tim Bluhm is still recovering from an injury that occurred in December.
Nyre: San Francisco is the birthplace of psychedelic music, with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane providing the template for trippy, ambling guitar freakouts. Carrying on in this lineage is Nyre, a local rock group deeply indebted to the spacy jams of Tame Impala. The group’s exploratory, cosmic tunes are perfect for smoking spliffs and contemplating the meaning of life (or where to get your next slice of pizza.) They’re among several bands opening for The Palms at Rickshaw Stop on Feb. 22.