A Guide to Noise Pop

A concise yet comprehensive list of stellar live music from San Francisco's annual Noise Pop Festival.

Because Noise Pop, a large music and film event that takes place at various venues throughout San Francisco and the East Bay from February 19 through 28, is packed with film screenings and concerts featuring local and national acts, it’s best to create a game plan to take advantage of the many events taking place throughout the week. Unlike other local festivals, such as Outside Lands and Treasure Island, where attendees commit to a day or weekend’s worth of shows, at Noise Pop, the lack of structure makes it possible to curate your own experience. To help you navigate the festival, we’ve put together a list of live music you shouldn’t miss at this year’s edition.

Diane Coffee, Hazel English, Be Calm Honcho, and Dick Stusso

Tues., Feb. 23, 7 p.m. Brick & Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco). $15.

Diane Coffee is the solo project of garage-pop duo Foxygen’s drummer, Shaun Fleming, whose sensual brand of his indie and soul fusion has attracted new listeners and Foxygen fans alike. The show will also include Oakland’s electro-pop singer and Day Wave’s protégé Hazel English. Day Wave’s Jackson Phillips recently produced her single, “Never Going Home,” which is an endearingly simple, modern lullaby. The San Francisco soul ensemble Be Calm Honcho will yank the lineup out of its chillwave vibe with its soulful, high-energy take on Americana. Dick Stusso’s fuzzed-out, lo-fi country folk songs also showcase a novel take on traditional sounds.

Ringo Deathstarr, Bed., Plush, and Crush

Wed., Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco, CA). $12.

The infamous Austin neo-psych rock band Ringo Deathstarr, which has a reputation for putting on unpredictable live shows, headlines Wednesday’s show at Bottom of the Hill. Because its performances can be so beautifully wild, this should be one of Noise Pop’s more spontaneous concerts. Bed., whose sparse rock songs are reminiscent of early Nineties alt-rock outfits such as The Lemonheads, will perform along with the noisy garage-pop band Crush from Oakland. Plush, which shares the bill, is a San Francisco shoegaze band known for its potent yet washed-out, reverb-laden rock ballads.

The Thermals, So Pitted, Cruel Summer, and Partybaby

Thur., Feb. 25, 8 p.m. Brick & Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco) $16.

Thursday’s headliners at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, The Thermals, just released its single, “My Heart Went Cold,” a punchy, pop-punk breakup anthem. Even if you haven’t heard the other bands on the lineup, The Thermals’ set should be reason enough to catch this show. So Pitted is a punk band that uses feedback as instrumentation in its abrasive compositions. In contrast, Cruel Summer evokes Jesus and Mary Chain with its chime-y, lyrical love songs. Partybaby is an interesting fusion of thrash and punk rock.

Wax Idols, Dinosaurs, and Carletta Sue Kay

Sat., Feb. 27, 8 p.m. The Knockout (3223 Mission St., San Francisco). $15.

Saturday’s show at The Knockout presents a rare opportunity to catch The Wax Idols in a small, intimate venue. Wax Idols is an all-female, self-proclaimed “sad-core” band that splits its time between Oakland and Los Angeles. It showboats a bit of mysterious bravado while blasting listeners with its complex, wall-of-sound-style instrumentation. The show will also include San Francisco based surf-punk band Dinosaurs and the soulful, cross-dressing crooner Carletta Sue Kay (which is the alter ego of singer-songwriter Randy Walker). Kay has been praised in The New York Times for her epic and powerful stage presence, as well as her work with The Magnetic Fields.

American Tragic by Wax Idols

DIIV, Dirty Ghosts, Creative Adult, and Fine Points

Sun., Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m. The Independent (628 Divisidero St., San Francisco). $22.

DIIV, one of the more well-known acts at Noise Pop this year, will close out the festival with its show on Sunday at The Independent. The band just released a new album, #IsTheIsAre, which frontman Zachary Cole Smith wrote from rehab. The emotional new release should yield a poignant live show. The lineup also features several notable Bay Area bands. The high-energy, dance-rock group Dirty Ghosts will perform along with the gritty, post-hardcore band Creative Adult and surf rock outfit Fine Points.


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