A Weed Smoker’s Pairing Guide to Noise Pop 2020

Make your festival experience burn a little brighter this year.

For nearly 30 years, the fine folks at Noise Pop have treated San Francisco to an annual celebration of indie music, art, and film each winter. Featuring eclectic lineups actually worthy of the adjective, Noise Pop lineups have consistently brought together the best from all corners of the music world, be it pop darling Carly Rae Jepsen, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, or living legends like Yoko Ono.

What unites them all, of course, are the Bay Area crowds who will flock to venues throughout the city (and beyond) from Feb. 24 to March 1 this year to celebrate all that is weird, wonderful, and vibrant in the realms of music and beyond. Along the way, cannabis has almost certainly served as an unofficial sponsor to many of Noise Pop’s most memorable moments. Given the festival’s host city, it’s safe to assume that marijuana and music have much shared history in the annals of Noise Pop — albeit mostly in the shadows.

However, in the wake of adult-use sales hitting San Francisco in 2018, cannabis happy hours at approved consumption sites and events sponsored by weed companies (but featuring no weed) have been woven into the fabric of local festivals. That said, we’ve still yet to reach the point where one can legally buy and consume cannabis at a concert venue. Though it’s tempting to imagine what the official cannabis menu might look like at a Best Coast show, for instance, that glorious day won’t arrive unless state rules prohibiting the sales of alcohol and cannabis under one roof change.

In hopes of bridging the gap, here are a few cannabis pairing suggestions for four of the most anticipated shows happening at Noise Pop this year.

Helado Negro

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. Great American Music Hall

Cannabis Pairing: Acapulco Gold

With Helado Negro, musician Roberto Carlos Lange taps into his Ecuadorean heritage, South Florida roots, and current life in Brooklyn to create experimental works of electronic pop that emphasize his proud Latin identity and never fail to bring the heat. If you want to bring a party that honors the artist famous for dropping “Young, Latin & Proud” in 2015, grab some Acapulco Gold. Originating in Mexico, this strain is the most well-known variety of cannabis to hail from south of the border. In terms of experience, the strain “has been likened to dinner at a five-star restaurant” according to the experts over at Leafly, so treat yourself to a memorable night of booming bass and beautiful bud.

Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie)

Friday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m. August Hall

Cannabis Pairing: Jack Herer

Over the course of his career, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard has worked with a ton of incredible musicians. Although Gibbard himself is not known for his love of the leaf, his frequent collaborator Jenny Lewis (The Postal Service) has a close family tie with iconic cannabis activist Jack Herer. When Gibbard arrives in San Francisco for this special solo show, it thus feels fitting to set the mood with some of Herer’s namesake strain: a sativa-dominant hybrid known for promoting feelings of bliss and joy. Given the Death Cab discography can get a little mopey, a joint of Jack Herer should strike the perfect counterbalance to a night of pensive feels.

Raphael Saadiq

Friday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. Fox Theater, Oakland

Cannabis Pairing: Girl Scout Cookies

Before Raphael Saadiq was an in-demand producer and solo artist, he was making everyone take notice as a member of the multi-platinum group Tony! Toni! Toné! To properly honor the Oakland native, it’s only fitting we turn to a strain that’s native to the Bay Area: Girl Scout Cookies. An indica-dominant hybrid, this sweet-smelling cross between OG Kush and Durban Poison is beloved both for its flavor and the cerebral high it provides. Also known as GSC or Cookies (copyright law can be a real bitch), this strain is definitely a solid way to honor a local R&B legend regardless of what you call it.

Best Coast

Saturday, Feb. 29, 8 p.m. Regency Ballroom

Cannabis Pairing: Rockstar

Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino has made no secret of her love for cannabis, telling Rolling Stone in 2012 that she “used to smoke weed all day” in efforts to treat her anxiety. While she may not be keeping up that pace anymore, the fiery surf-rock Cosentino and her bandmate Bobb Bruno create would be a welcome addition to any self-respecting stoner’s jukebox. One way to ensure you’re grooving at the appropriate speed is to smoke some Rockstar. This strain — a cross been Rockbud and Sensi Star — is a “potent indica-dominant hybrid that delivers strong effects without debilitating sedation” (Leafly), making it a great choice for getting cosmic (but not catatonic) with Best Coast. 

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