Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015
Better than: Staying in while surfing on the now-neutral internet.
Nice to see you again, San Francisco. It's been one whole day since we last hung out together at a live music venue and I missed you, but honestly at this point all these concerts are starting to blur together anyway. This routine seems oddly familiar; after work stopover at Bender's for another Noise Pop happy hour, this time sponsored by Balanced Breakfast. Opting to eat healthy, I crushed a bacon/cheddar/jalapeno burger with the music of Damn Fanatics, Friends Without Benefits, and Bear Lincoln cooking up a storm around the tots. After acting social while sipping on Little Somethin', it was off to Rickshaw Stop again for a musty night of somethin' somethin'.
[jump] Arriving early hoping to catch Oakland's The Younger Lovers, it was sad to hear that they had to cancel their performance. The rest of the show went on as scheduled, and I had some time to lounge on the couches and chat with Amanda Guest and other DJs from BFF.fm, a local radio station that was co-presenting the show. I also met Beat and Ivo, two dudes from Zurich who flew to San Francisco specifically for Noise Pop 2015. Looks like there's hope after all, people.
Cold Beat eventually broke the ice with the jarring intensity of “Rain,” the first song off of their latest release, Over Me. Hannah Lew's melodic vocals shone through like a lighthouse in a hurricane between molasses-thick distortion and Bianca Sparta's crashing drums, while sonic alchemists Kyle King and Jackson Blumgart forged gold from chaos on their squealing guitars. Punchy and raw, their set packed enough voltage to awaken Frankenstein's monster. Hannah was candid with the crowd; “I don't know what Noise Pop exactly all is, really, but I'm really glad that you guys are all out to see a show.” After the show Jackson and Hannah were at the merch table, and we talked for a bit before Hannah lit up a half-smoked joint and passed it to me. I bought a tape; I like this band.
Nude Beach, coming to us from New York in the midst of a West Coast tour, espoused a more traditional rock and roll ethos. Chuck, Jim, Ryan, and Matt served off tasty licks and power-pop chord progressions hot off the grill. Chuck donned a slide during one of the songs for a slithering solo, and the band chopped through a meaty set list with East Coast punctuality. Terse but polite (they announced some songs by saying simply “this is another one,” but did repeatedly thank people for coming out), they spent their time on stage efficiently, hammering out major chord grooves backboned by blues-borrowed good ol' fashioned American rock riffs that would please The Boss. One fan towards the front came forward and requested “Keep It Cool,” but was unable to get his wish because the band “didn't practice that one for this tour.” Sorry dude, you should have just stayed home.
The headliners for the night assembled on stage, plugging in three guitars patched through heavy metal distortion pedals, and Tony Molina asked for more echo in his microphone because “that shit sounds tight.” The West Bay hardcore veteran player from bands like Ovens, Caged Animal, and Violent Change shouted out to the 650 before his band erupted with lava rock that you couldn't help but bang your head to. Most songs followed a similar pattern, starting with a few seconds of triple guitar feedback before a charging into a dissonant but catchy chord progression, followed by tightly choreographed staccato guitar lines and the occasional face-oxidizing solo.
With access to a reservoir of music, and adding material from Dissed and Dismissed, released on Slumberland last year, Molina worked the crowd into a frenzy that boiled over into a decent mosh pit. “Change My Ways” and “Nowhere To Go” were highlights for me, and some deep cuts from his other projects got a few dedicated fans really excited. Bursting at the seams with musical talent and comedic energy, he jabbed at San Francisco music with unapologetic sincerity (West Bay all day, fuck this 415 opportunistic shit) and gentrification (white people get the fuck out of the Mission). After the show I walked out with my new Swiss friends Beat and Ivo, who asked me if he was being serious or not. My advice is to stay neutral on that one.