San Francisco’s annual Noise Pop Festival, which has hosted such legendary acts as “Death Cab for Cutie,” “Yo La Tengo,” and “Yoko Ono,” is celebrating its 21st year. Combining indie music, art and film, the festival gives attendees a well-rounded cultural experience unlike any other festival on the West Coast. This year’s weeklong extravaganza is set for Feb. 26 to March 3 and is hosted by a variety of venues across the city, so visitors have a chance to explore the area in a musical romp. Attendees 21 years or older have the option of buying a festival pass, which grants access to all events of their choosing, but event tickets can also be bought individually. Here’s a breakdown of some events that visitors shouldn’t miss:
Music: For fans of…
Moody indie rock: Check out “Ramona Falls,” the Portland-based side project of Menomena member Brent Knopf. He creates lush tunes, rife with dark chords and choppy percussive elements.The lyrical delivery is reminiscent of “Death Cab for Cutie.” February 27 @ the Brick and Mortar. Tickets here. Dance punk: Check out “!!!” (pronounced chk-chk-chk), the Sacramento-based Bay Area favorite. With their funky beats and bass and heavy tunes, audiences are driven to release their inner groove. A must for those who like to dance their hearts out. February 28 @ the Great American Music Hall. Tickets here. Chill electronics: Don’t miss the “XXYYXX,” 17-year-old Tampa-based wunderkind Marcel Everett who released his sophomore album last year. His music, created on homemade synthesizers, combines dreamy soundscapes with hard-hitting beats reminiscent of James Blake. February 28 @ the DNA Lounge. Tickets here. Melodic post-punk: Try “The Thermals,” the Portland-based trio of whom even Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard is a fan. This is probably no coincidence, because their music sounds as if the man himself fronted a grunge band, the clear-cut vocals providing a lovely contrast to the fuzzy instrumentals. March 1 @ the Rickshaw Stop. Tickets here. Jangle-pop: Check out “Jukebox the Ghost,” the New York-based trio who create rambunctious indie rock reminiscent of contemporaries Jack’s Mannequin. They are currently on tour supporting their third full-length album, which features their smart brand of bright pop with some deep introspection. March 2 @ the Rickshaw Stop. Tickets here. Acoustic folk: Be sure to see “Damien Jurado,” the Seattle-based artist who was deemed the “folk boom godfather” by Andrew Matson of the Seattle Times. At times reminiscent of folk contemporary Elliot Smith, but with a more rootsy background, his lush songs demonstrate his strong storytelling vein. March 1 @ The Chapel. Tickets here. For a bit of pop-rock, electro pop, and folk rock all rolled into one show: Check out “Free Energy” with openers “In the Valley Below” and “Miner.” Minneapolis-based “Free Energy,” who just released their second album this year, have a bass-heavy pop charm reminiscent of Phoenix. February 28 @ the Brick and Mortar. Tickets here. Live music-filled happy hours:Don’t miss out on “Francisco the Man with Kitten,” “Monte Mar,” and “Beach Party.” Sponsored by venue The Echo, these LA bands possess undeniable charm in their musical niches: “Francisco the Man” in alt-rock, “Kitten” in electro-pop, “Monte Mar” in alt-pop, and “Beach Party” in garage-pop. February 28 @ Bender’s.
“Turning: A Music Documentary” by Charles Atlas featuring Antony and the Johnsons This film follows the live tour of Antony and the Johnsons and the stories of the 13 women of diverse backgrounds who share their struggles and hope through performance to his mesmerizing music. A Q&A with Director Charles Atlas follows. February 27 @ the Roxie Theater. Tickets here. “Bad Brains: A Band in DC” This film combines rare footage and comic illustrations to trace the history and legacy of one of the most influential punk/reggae bands working today. March 1 @ Artist’s Television Access. Tickets here.
“Noise Pop Culture Club” brings music, art, design and technology together under one roof to highlight the creative spirit and the DIY culture through many hands-on activities and discussions. Some of the scheduled activities include “Radio Silence Comes Alive,” an onstage discussion of music magazine Radio Silence, featuring music performances. A crochet workshop by renowned crochet artist Olek is planned as well as a workshop about a unique approach to film soundtracking by band Califone. March 2 @ Swedish American Music Hall. Tickets here. Visit the Noise Pop website for more information.