Much of the negative commentary we heard about this year's Noise Pop festival ran along one of two narratives. The main criticism was that the 21st edition of the local indie music festival disappointed with a lack of strong national headliners. The big-type lineup of Toro y Moi, !!!, Starfucker, and a DJ set from Amon Tobin, people said, didn't stand out from the excellent variety of shows during a standard springtime week in San Francisco.
Christopher Victorio Local group Maus Haus playing the Noise Pop closing party on Sunday, March 3, at 1772 Market.
The other criticism, which tended to come from more diehard types and even a few local musicians playing this year, viewed Noise Pop as indie-lite: The festival for casual showgoers, who prefer safer, NPR-approved acts like Thao Nguyen or STRFKR over more adventurous, difficult music.
There's some truth to both of these arguments. But ironically, by failing to book some of the major headliners of previous years and lining up lesser-known acts instead, Noise Pop helped diffuse the latter criticism and bolstered its reputation as a host of local talent.