Noise Pop 2012: A Handy Guide to Our Complete Coverage

Categories: Noise Pop 2012

Christopher Victorio
Party's over... 'till next year.

Well, kids, it's over. Noise Pop's 20th anniversary has come and gone, leaving lots of sold-out shows, earsplitting climaxes, elated Tweets, credit-limit-busting cab fares, and wicked hangovers in its path. As we try to get this ringing out of our ears, let us bid farewell to this year's festival by rounding up the rather large number of posts and stories we here at SF Weekly and All Shook Down produced about Noise Pop 2012. Here they are below, organized by type and date, so you can relive the magic (or at least what we said about it). So read on! And with that, Noise Pop, we'll see you back here next year.

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Live Review, 2/25/12: Atlas Sound's Bradford Cox Encounters His Younger Self at Bimbo's

Christopher Victorio
Atlas Sound's Bradford Cox at Bimbo's on Saturday.

Atlas Sound
Electric Flower
Seventeen Evergreen
Frank Broyles
Feb. 25, 2012
Bimbo's 365 Club

Better than: Honestly, I've never seen anything like this.

Tonight, and likely at all other Atlas Sound sets, some clever dude shouts at Bradford Cox before the first chord of his set:

"Play something sincere, Bradford!"

Cox probably gets this all the time. Maybe not this exact phrasing, but certainly the concept. He is the quintessential, quizzical modern songwriter. His work is as densely layered in personal and societal themes as it is in harmonic vocal tracks or bass and guitar loops. (This is the case no matter if he's performing as Atlas Sound or with Deerhunter.)

There's a chilling silence in the crowd when Cox sings tracks like "Parallax." He performs without much, if any, interaction in between songs. His eyes are closed when he approaches the mic. If not, they look down at his instrument. Nine songs into a perfectly enjoyable set at Bimbo's on Saturday, this was the story being written in my head: An "intimate" evening where Cox wowed the crowd with his "soundscapes" and everyone was gripped by the "emotion" on stage.

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Live Review, 2/25/12: Archers of Loaf Struggle to Find Momentum at Great American

Archers sign final.jpg

Archers of Loaf
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012
Great American Music Hall

Better than:
Never seeing Archers of Loaf at all.

For Archers of Loaf fans who have loved the North Carolina quartet since 1993's stunning Icky Mettle album, tonight is a very big deal indeed. The group broke up in 1998 and reformed out of the blue last year, and for some of us, tonight is the first opportunity we've had to see a band we've loved for nearly two decades. As such, expectations are high -- but Archers of Loaf would do a lot to screw this up. 

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Live Review, 2/24/12: Jolie Holland Channels a Haunting Past at the Swedish

All photos by the author
Jolie Holland with Keith Cary (l)

Jolie Holland
Will Sprott
Emily Jane White
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Swedish American Hall

Better than: Every show I've been to in the last 12 months.

Among those who work there, it's common knowledge that the Swedish American Hall is haunted. This is according to violinist Carey Lamprecht, who played there on Friday night with headliner Jolie Holland and opener Emily Jane White. Haunted or not, the Swedish was the best setting for Friday's four-hour Noise Pop show, featuring four performers (White, DRMS, Will Sprott, and Holland) whose differences in style are bound by a deeply personal approach to musical storytelling. Each finds ways to grab ahold of the smallest, rarest bits of emotional experience and craft lasting songs out of these fleeting moments.

Lamprecht told the audience about the hall being haunted apropos of the book she and Holland are collaborating on: a collection of true ghost stories, first-person accounts that Holland has been amassing for seventeen years. This sideline could not be more fitting for Holland, whose work embraces so many of the more spectral and mysterious aspects of American musical history. If you want, you can hear in many of her songs an encyclopedic re-organization of the American musical canon (and any number of sub-canons), echoing with rhythms, instrumentation, and ideas from across the centuries. On Friday, Holland mentioned Townes van Zandt, Boots Riley, Ray Davies, and two Native American performers among her influences; haunted as she is by musicians past and present, major and minor, it's no surprise that a ghost story anthology is in her future.

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Live Review, 2/24/12: Bob Mould Blasts Through Copper Blue at Bottom of the Hill

Iann Ivy
Bob Mould at Bottom of the Hill on Friday

Bob Mould
Fake Your Own Death
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Bottom of the Hill

Better than: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the best-selling album of 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All.

On a night that was all about reliving memories, Bob Mould made sure to plant a ringing in the ear of his audience that it won't soon forget. The fact that there was a guy stationed at the door handing out earplugs offered up an early warning that this wasn't going to be your typical rock show.

Of course, fans knew that Friday was going to be a particularly special night back when they bought tickets. (That is, those who were lucky enough to grab some of the gone-in-a-flash tickets, an issue that was exacerbated when Noise Pop posted erroneous on-sale information last month.) To say that the energy inside the venue was palpable would be an understatement: In addition to the poster, T-shirt, and bumper sticker commemorating the fact that Mould would be playing Sugar's 1992 debut, Copper Blue, in its entirety, and overheard conversations about flying into town just to see the show, there was a unique restlessness in the audience, most members of which were double the age of the average rock-show attendee.

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Live Review, 2/23/12: Thao Nguyen Brings Out the Badass at Bottom of the Hill

John Vanderslice at Bottom of the Hill last night

Thao Nguyen
John Vanderslice
Bird by Snow
Garrett Pierce
Thursday, Feb. 24, 2012
Bottom of the Hill

Better than: Every live performance Thao has given to date.

If anything is left standing at Bottom of the Hill after last night's Noise Pop festival show, it is certainly by the good graces of powerhouse indie songstress Thao Nguyen. With a new band and edgier demeanor, Nguyen decimated last night's lineup with a magnificent power.

The show was destined to make waves when it sold out a week prior to performance, in no small way influenced by the ingénue's work outside of her band. Nguyen is known for lobbying government officials on behalf of musicians, and works to benefit domestic violence shelters and sexual abuse counseling services.

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Live Review, 2/23/12: Big Black Delta Delivers Maximalist Sounds for a Minimal Crowd at Rickshaw Stop

Big Black Delta at Rickshaw Stop last night.

Big Black Delta
New Diplomat
Feb. 23, 2012
Rickshaw Stop / Popscene SF

Better than: Blown speakers.

A slate of marquee shows filled San Francisco venues Thursday night, with Built to Spill, Sleigh Bells, Budos Band, and locals Thao and John Vanderslice selling out their respective venues. But never fear, Noise Pop nerds, because each day of the festival brings an embarrassment of musical riches. While many San Franciscans patronized the bigger names, some probably mortgaging themselves into Stubhub tickets, one of San Francisco's best-loved club nights hosted Big Black Delta, an up-and-coming Los Angeles talent taken with big beats and buzzsaw hooks.

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Live Review, 2/23/12: Locals Fidlar and Shannon and the Clams Steal the Soft Pack's Thunder at Cafe Du Nord

Shannon and the Clams at Cafe Du Nord last night.
The Soft Pack
Shannon and the Clams
Surf Club
Thursday, Feb. 24th, 2012
Café Du Nord

Better than: The homeless drum circle down the block, by far.

If the purpose of Noise Pop is to showcase lesser-known groups in addition to quality headliners, then the inclusion of Fidlar as an opener at last night's Noise Pop event at Café Du Nord was a glorious success. They dispensed a potent strain of raving garage-punk with deft execution and earnest vitality very early in the evening. Rarely pausing between songs, the surprisingly young band played with unhinged exuberance that was not once hindered by non-professionalism or any of the faults commonly diminishing new bands' performances.

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Live Review, 2/23/12: Two Gallants and White Cloud Get Dreamy and Sad at Edinburgh Castle

Erin Browner
Two Gallants at Edinburgh Castle last night.

Two Gallants
White Cloud
Greg Ashley
Feb. 24, 2012
The Edinburgh Castle

Better than: Taking a catnap after daytime drinking in the park.

A night of Noise Pop at the cozy Edinburgh Castle put the audience in waves of sleep-like cycles, leaving spectators in a dreamy state. The first one-man band, Greg Ashley, sang us to sleep. Then the foot-tapping beats of White Cloud woke us up, gently laid us down for a nap, and shook us with happiness, upping the anticipation for headliner Two Gallants, a San Francisco duo with a friendship older than Noise Pop itself.

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Live Review, 2/22/12: Young Prisms and Melted Toys Shine Through Their Blemishes at Cafe Du Nord

Young Prisms shot for SF Weekly by Amanda Lopez

Young Prisms
Melted Toys
Tambo Rays
Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2012
Cafe Du Nord

Better than: You could do.

A good vinyl record -- one that is capable of shifting moods and raising spirits -- isn't always glossy or housed in a crisp paper sleeve. A good vinyl record may be warped, its cover stained and falling apart, and its flaws producing a hiss-and-pop-filled listen. But we enjoy imperfection in vinyl because it often means the music has character and depth.

Last night's show at Cafe Du Nord, part of San Francisco's Noise Pop festival, was a similar situation. In this hipster haven, surrounded, no doubt, by hordes of vinyl aficionados, the blemishes of this all-San Franciscan showcase fruited new musical directions.

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