You’ve been busy with those work deadlines and ugly sweater office parties, and suddenly you’ve missed your window to do the Christmas shopping. Even those on your ‘Nice’ list are lacking something for under the Christmas tree. Well you could get them tickets to the first music festival to kick off 2016. The Bay Area’s premiere independent music festival Noise Pop 2016 will be held on Feb 19 to 28 in venues across the city. It features a diverse roster of hot acts and up-and-coming bands including New York garage rockers, Parquet Courts; the Emily Haines-led Metric; Long Beach rapper, Vince Staples; enigmatic singer-songwriter Bill Callahan; and jazz saxophonist, Kamasi Washington.
The folks at Noise Pop have pushed the boundaries a little further with this year’s line-up but can always be trusted with introducing the best of the pop avant guard. For example, rapper Vince Staples is the kind of rap auteur we need in these times of civil unrest – ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Trayvon Martin’ and the ‘Charleston Church massacre’. He raps about drugs but never to glorify it, in fact he often shows up rappers who do glorify the pimpin’ lifestyle of hoes, drugs and gang violence. His stance provides much-needed insight and political commentary through themes of gang violence and the politics of being a young black man. He is not only refreshing but vital.
Parquet Court’s members may not be New York natives but their urgent punk rock puts strong lyrics with a social edge at its core, then wraps their buzz-saw guitars around it. It is in the punk tradition of iconic NYC acts such as Lou Reed and Television. Eschewing today’s mainstream preoccupation with releasing singles, the DIY band prefer well thought-out albums where they do the artwork and sleeve covers themselves. Last year they even when so far as to release two excellent ones in the same year – Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea. The latter albeit was pegged to Parkay Quarts. And their latest LP, Monastic Living is mostly instrumental but this band have no problems finding warm moshpit-worthy bodies for their shows.
An altogether different affair is Canadian Carly Rep Jensen of “Call Me Baby” fame. That single sold 18 million copies – how much of that was thanks to Cookie Monster we don’t know but her new video, “I Really Like You” features Hollywood heavyweight, Tom Hanks. The jury is out as to how good Hanks is at lip-synching. Yet the rest of the co-writers on her recently released third album Emotion is as stellar as Hanks star on the Walk of Fame. It features the notoriously private but headline-grabbing Sia Furler; Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij; and producer du jour for Beyonce, Hiam and Sky Ferreira – Ariel Rechtshaid. Obviously a whole load of people did call her! And you can decide for yourself the weight of her indie chops.
Electronica favorites such as LA-based Gems and Brooklyn-based Beacon bring their welcomed strand of dark wave to San Francisco. While local bands such as Heartwatch and Painted Palms also get the spotlight with the former headlining their own show ahead of their debut album release. Other acts worth catching are the scuzz-laden and quirkily titled, Ringo Deathstarr; John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats; and the recently reformed, American Football whose 1999 album has a cult following despite the band breaking up before its release.
A hot ticket is Kamasi Washington – also a collaborator on Kendrick Lamar’s highly successful To Pimp A Butterfly, the jazz composer has set sail on his own course with his jazz trio albums aptly titled The Epic. It’s no hip-hop but a straight forward homage to the likes of jazz legends such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. His early show at The Independent has already sold out but tickets for a second show at 10pm are still available.
Long time Bay Area hardcore favorites, Drive Like Jehu have also sold out their show. The only way to get into these sold out affairs is to have a Badge. It costs $375 for a Super fan badge and $175 for a General Fan badge. For tickets and more details to the individual shows, please visit www.noisepop.com or click here.