San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival may just be the best kept secret on America’s indie festival circuit. But this year’s loaded lineup may just blow its cover. Indie legends Stephen Malkmus and Bob Mould share the bill with “it” bands like No Age, Ra Ra Riot, and Antony and the Johnsons. If you’re a Noise Pop Newbie looking to make the most of the experience, here are a few tips:
Map it Out:
Think of Noise Pop as the Bay Area’s mini version of South By Southwest. Tons of great bands descend upon San Francisco and play venues across the city. Like SXSW, it can get incredibly difficult to keep the schedule straight. Before you walk out the door, print out Noise Pop’s online schedule. Highlight the bands you really want to see and make a plan.
Bands to See (bigger names):
Stephen Malkmus: Those pining for a Pavement reunion can at least get a solo fix from their ex-frontman. Good to see him back in NoCal.
Ra Ra Riot: With strings, horns, and an electric stage performance, seeing them live is like watching a feel-good version of Arcade Fire. Scroll to the bottom on this page to watch my interview with them at last year’s SXSW.
Martha Wainwright: Persistent comparisons to her brother Rufus undermine her own astounding talent and skill. If you haven’t heard her voice live, do yourself a favor and get to this show.
Bands to See (hidden gems):
Sholi: After opening for Iron and Wine this past fall and signing with Touch and Go, Sholi is poised for a breakout year. Be there as they officially release their new CD at Bottom of the Hill. (P.S. They booked the gig through OurStage’s Marketplace!).
Clues and Harbours: If you want to see the show all the in-the-know critics will be attending, spend Saturday night at The Rickshaw Stop where Clues (featuring former members of The Unicorns and Arcade Fire) will be playing one of their first shows. Don’t miss the roster of impressive openers, including Harbours whom OurStage fans will know for their spacey-pop masterpiece, “Telling Lies.”
Scissors for Lefty: After winning over OurStage fans by releasing a free preview of their EP this past fall, SFL kicks off Thursday night’s festivities with a free happy hour show at Benders. Don’t miss their catchy blend of pop/punk.
Things to Do During the Day:
If you’re visiting San Francisco from out of town, skip the city’s overrun tourist traps (i.e. Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc…) and head to the much hipper Mission District. Get over a hangover with an excellent brunch at The Pork Store Cafe at 16th St. and Valencia (the mango mimosas are delicious). Head south on Valencia (stopping at the abundant thrift stores along the way) until you arrive at the Pirate Supply Store (which actually masks an excellent writing center for kids in the back). Don’t ask, just go. And if you could use a cool treat, Mitchell’s homemade ice cream is worth the wait in the inevitable line out front.
Start Preparing Now:
Figuring out what bands to see can be exhausting and overwhelming. We’ve made your life easier by creating this playlist of all the OurStage artists at Noise Pop. Enjoy!