For those that don’t like the whirling dirvish of humanity that is Outside Lands or the throngs of granola earthies trying to sell you their lumerian crystals at Hardly Strictly, San Francisco offers a more intimate music festval. Noise Pop can be likened to Austin’s South By Southwest and New York’s CMJ Music Marathon, in that, in lieu of erecting four stages in a massive field and hoping for the best, the cities have carefully chosen to curate many separate musical experiences in a variety of different venues, quenching the thirst of multiple musical palates. The 21st annual Noise Pop Music Festival will be going on at 20 different venues in SF between February 26th through March 3rd. Bands of note playing include !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Amon Tobin, Rogue Wave, Starfucker, and The Fresh & Onlys, who graced the the stage at Duffy’s Tavern in late July, 2011.
Toro y Moi with Sinkane at The Independent
March 1st and March 2nd
Toro y Moi can be best described as the danciest, sexiest elevator music in human history, excluding of course, Aerosmith’s “Love in a Elevator” and its corresponding music video. Chazwick Bundick has been spreading his infectious, groovy, moog’d out brand of chill-wave over four albums and three EPs since 2009.
The Sudanese-bred, United States-buttered Sinkane (born Ahmed Gallab) has had his hand in some of the sweetest musical honeypots. He’s been a touring musician for indie freak-funk juggernauts Of Montreal, dancey Polaris Prize-winning Caribou, and Brooklyn-based synth-psychers Yeasayer. In his self-titled album released last year, he ranges from a futuristic Curtis Mayfield to free form jazz. His afro-electro sound is contagious and bound to get any concert goer writhing to the beat. Both bands’ entire discography can be listened to on Spotify.
YACHT at Slim’s
This is by far the best bet of the festival. YACHT is a band, belief system, and business conducted by Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans of Marfa, Texas and Los Angeles, California respectively. These edgy, synthy electro-poppers force you to contemplate the meaning of existence and how you perceive your place in the universe while using their music to make the listener an uncontrollable hip-churning marionette.
The band is also live-scoring a heliocentric short film they made called Falling Into The Sun earlier in the day at the Swedish American Music Hall. The band meticulously curates everything from the light effects to the band merch with their own hands. The Yacht experience is completely immersive; I myself have been pseudo-anointed by the intergalactic preacher Claire L. Evans, herself. Think the Talking Heads combined with the Svedka advertising campaigns of 2033. Check out their amazing music videos on YouTube and their entire catalog on Spotify.
Sonny & The Sunsets at Bottom of the Hill
I was introduced to Sonny & The Sunsets at Outside Lands in 2011 and was immediately captivated. They draw on a wide array of influences to amalgamate a beautifully catchy, fuzzy, poppy sound. You can get a swooning, fuzzed-out 50’s piano ballad followed by a tom tom-backed, light tropical guitar-based softy song about a journey to a planet of women where the term “death by snu snu” is evoked in your mind.
Sonny Smith, the band’s frontman, song arranger, and lyricist, is extremely prolific with his songwriting. In 2010, Sonny invited 100 different artists to illustrate unique record covers for a fictional band with the intention of taking on 100 separate personas and creating a two-sided record. He completed the lofty task and presented the project at Gallery 16 in San Francisco and later at Cinders in Brooklyn. I can’t really peg their sound with a clever quip so I implore you, dear reader, to check them out on – you guessed it – Spotify, where all three of their studio albums are available for your listening pleasure.