Noise Pop 2014 kicked off officially on Tuesday evening at the NWBLK with ‘Punk Rock Fancy’ where Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra; street artist, Shepard Fairey; and Husker Du’s Bob Mould, were all rocking the turntables with shared DJ duties.
It was a curious dissonance yet an enticing grouping that was enough to pique the interest of the usual Noise Pop suspects, as well as newbies to the Mission warehouse on a Tuesday night. Plus the event was free though almost 1,000 people RSVP-ed on the Noise Pop site to get in. By 9pm the crowd was relatively thin but given that the party started at 5.30pm, and the other Noise Pop show - Lord Huron at The Fillmore was kicking off at 8pm, festival goers might have moved on. Or they were saving their stamina for another five nights jam-packed with bands such as ‘80s indie darlings, Throwing Muses; current New Jersey favorites, Real Estate; film screenings such as Stones Throw Records excellent documentary, “Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton”, among others.
Inside the NWBLK, past Noise Pop posters hung on the wall, together with an exhibition from Yours Truly featuring photographs and letters - a taster for Saturday's event 'The Days Are Short And The Nights Are Yours'. Catching everyone's attention was a surprising walking, talking art installation featuring two men. One dressed in shorts and a top hat, as the Monopoly board and the other with a giant Property Deed card - together they eschewed the hyper-gentrification going on in the Mission and was telling of current woes.
The gentleman posing as 'The Mission deed' said: “We’re putting the punk back in punk rock even though it’s old school.” Everything about the way they chose to take their protest stand was old school – Monopoly, witty art and craft-type costume your mother could put together for Halloween. But as people hung around reading the deed card, taking photos of it, posting it on Facebook and Twitter, their method proved plenty effective.
Old school was also the order of the evening on the decks as Biafra played a lot of 60s rock which he pulled out from a box filled with classic 45s vinyl records, their sepia-toned inner sleeves still in mint condition. Mould whose old hardcore-punk band, Husker Du is on Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label seemed to cover esoteric alt-rock music.
No stranger to protest Obey giant's Fairey offered the most polished and inspired sets which saw him spin "White Lines" by Grandmaster Flash with Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, “Apache” by The Shadows (you know the one with the awesome 60s surf sound) and “Freak Out” by Le Chic all in one fell swoop. If this was a DJ face-off, Fairey would have won but the party was trending on a happy vibe and all three were having a good time behind the decks.
At times the evening, had the familiar impromptu feel of a house party where people were happy watching the trio, having a drink at the bar or hitting the dance floor in dramatic fashion when a favorite tune was spun.
Kelly Anders who was on the dancefloor with friends has been coming to Noise Pop since 2006. She said: “There is so much going on in a city like San Francisco anyway. But Noise Pop brings a denser collection of music to the city all at once.”
“I’m here because my office is nearby and Jello Biafra is spinning! I love that he is playing his 45’s. And I think it’s great that some one is still using vinyl.”
Anders explained that her work schedule is usually so busy that it does not allow her to buy a Noise Pop badge but she tries to go to individual shows and this year has her heart set on seeing Vetiver.
Aessandra Stella, an Italian who has lived in Los Angeles for 5 years and moved to San Francisco a year ago, was out with his friend, Kelly. Both are newbies to Noise Pop with the latter, keen to catch the Dr Dog show.
Added Stella: “San Francisco is a lot more like Europe you can walk everywhere and the climate is similar. I moved here because I got sick of wearing t-shirts and shorts everyday (laughs). I came here tonight cause I was really interested in seeing Shepard Fairey play. I have always known him as an artist not a music-type. He is quite a good DJ.”
“I just looked on the net to find this event. I haven’t had a chance to look at the full schedule but am hoping to go see more Noise Pop gigs.”
Not surprisingly, General Festival Badges ($150) are now sold out, so unless you can afford to drop some serious money for the Super Fan Badge ($350) you are better off going to see individual shows of acts that haven't sold out. Stay true to Noise Pop's original vision to helping you discover new music or unsung bands by going to see bands that perhaps were not on your radar.
My top picks are Shabazz Palaces at Slim's tonight. It's a hip hop sound with an experimental edge and totally diggable. No wonder as 'Butterfly' from the 'cool like dat' ensemble, Digable Planets makes one half of this duo with multi-instrumentalist and sometimes mistaken for Lil'Wayne, MC Tendai Maraire.
Tomorrow would have to be Kirsten Hersh's fabulous college band from the '80s, Throwing Muses playing at the JCC. The band which was seminal in the indie vein back in its day, was also on the respected 4AD Label. Hits included "Not Too Soon, "Dizzy" and "Bright Yellow Gun". Throwing Muses is back with a brand new album after 20 years - if you are one of the fans who still have their cassettes, I bet you never thought you'd see this folks play live again. Their latest, Purgatory/Paradise is such a back to form album while still being able to exist in the landscape of new music, they should turn over a host of young new fans.
Mark Kozelek who sings sad and sometimes comic but always baritone-low is my pick for Saturday. It is amazing that a talent like his isn't a bigger star. I recently watched "Almost Famous" again to remember Philip Seymour Hoffman's Lester Bangs and was blown away to see Kozelek who is also an actor, start the sing-a-long to "Tiny Dancer" on Doris the Tour Bus. For that alone he is a hero. Kozelek is still a bit of a secret but well, worth shouting about.
Sunday you can spend some down-time and money at the 7X7-sponsored market at The NWBLK and still make it in time to catch Rogue Wave, Trails And Ways, and Wymond Miles at The Chapel.