Noise, pop — two great tastes in one!

Pub date February 20, 2007
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

FEB. 27


Song scribe extraordinaire Har Mar ripped it up at Thee Parkside a few Noise Pops back, and buzz band Tapes ‘n Tapes made the South by Southwest crowd go nuts (and crawl the wall outside), so you know this is gonna be a blast. Watch for those low-flying groupies of indie comedy fave David Cross too. (Kimberly Chun)

9 p.m. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. Free if you sign up at

FEB. 28


In Northern California we are all familiar with the term hella, typically used to convey abundance. This same definition can be applied to Sacramento’s math rock savants Hella, whose chaotic brew of avant musical equations can be compared to a piano falling down an elevator shaft or the sonic vibrations of a song trapped in a quasar. Once made up solely of guitarist Spenser Seim and drummer Zach Hill, Hella has since morphed into a full band with the addition of guitarist Josh Hill, bassist Carson McWhirter, and vocalist Aaron Ross, making for a more contained noise that verges on the fringes of prog. Opening is London’s Pop Levi, who describes his slithering psych pop as "Prince making out with Bob Dylan in Syd Barrett’s bedroom," and Romy Hoffman, better known as Macromatics, who makes punk-rooted hip-hop and has been known to shout out to Lemony Snicket and Melanie Griffith in the same breath. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

8 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $12. (415) 621-4455


Sure, I remember the first time I heard Josh Ritter, who plays a solo acoustic set as part of Noise Pop. There I was, driving beneath a huddle of midnight pines in the middle of nowhere when a warm drawl lured me off the dirt road and into the airwaves with tales of Patsy Cline’s ghost and girls with wooden-nickel smiles — all delivered with the urgency of a young Bob Dylan and the intimacy of Townes van Zandt. Five years later, the Idaho-bred indie folkie still slays me with the Americana mythology of "Golden Age of Radio," and the storytelling voodoo he has cast ever since makes me wish they’d start giving out the O. Henry Award for songwriting. Ritter could be the first winner. (Todd Lavoie)

7:30 p.m. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF. $15. (415) 861-5016



This Noise Pop show is a warm reminder that all is not lost in contemporary rap music. Yes, it’s still possible for hip-hop to both move your butt and stimulate your mind. Prime examples of this are longtime Oakland political wordsmith Boots Riley and his funk-fueled live band the Coup, who are blessed to be back after a recent tour bus accident. With headliner Quannum MC Lyrics Born, who has proven himself a tireless performer at 150 shows a year, you have a hip-hop concert that’s guaranteed to deliver on all levels. (Billy Jam)

8 p.m. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. $25. (415) 346-6000


Hybridizing jangled guitar treatments and shrill electronics, No Age make ambient basement rock that sounds like the Stooges if Iggy had moved the rest of the band with him to Berlin. For the past year, this LA duo — embodying two-thirds of the short-lived maniacal punk outfit Wives — has wed lo-fi with New York noise. On "Dead Plane," a song featured on the band’s MySpace page, a slow burner of dainty hums builds then takes a backseat to a three-chord commotion of dismantled sounds. Matt and Kim, Erase Errata, and Pant Pants Pants round out this rocktastic happening. (Chris Sabbath)

8 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10. (415) 621-4455


At first glance, Scissors for Lefty remind you of those dudes down the block who your friends keep telling you are going to make it big. The video for their latest single, the new wave "Ghetto Ways," off Underhanded Romance (Pepper Street Music), works in clips from the 1970s horror flick The Dead, the Devil and the Flesh. The result: pure camp, including an impressive dance break by vocalist Bryan Garza. Lest you forget SFL hail from the Bay Area, "Mama Your Boys Will Find a Home" gives a shout-out to the Mission and girls who "breathe new life into checking our voice mail." (Elaine Santore)

8:00 p.m. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. $15. (415) 255-0333



The gears of this much-blogged-about sextet’s musical engine are greased with an all-engaging medley of brash experimental pop and electronic folk. And like kindred spirits Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arcade Fire, the Annuals back up their buzz with a punch of indie rock delight: their 2006 full-length, Big He Me (Ace Fu), has scored a favorable reception from critics and fans alike. Led by singer-songwriter Adam Baker, the Raleigh, N.C., group’s captivating live show promises to be one of the highlights of Noise Pop. Simon Dawes, Pilot Speed, and Ray Barbie and the Mattson 2 also perform. (Sabbath)

9 p.m. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. $10. (415) 861-5016


A dreamlike fusion of languid atmospherics and apocalyptic noise, Autolux’s futuristic dark pop is fit for a fembot. The LA trio is composed of bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Greg Edwards, and drummer Carla Azar, whose pounding percussion echoes with an ominous clamor. On songs such as "Turnstile Blues," from Future Perfect (DMZ/Epic, 2004), austere vocals, lush musical landscapes, and fuzzed-out, droning guitars inspire comparisons to the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, the moodiness of Slowdive, and the artful dissonance of Sonic Youth. Their sound may borrow from distortion-heavy bands of the past, but Autolux appear to be ushering in their own version of sonic modernism. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. $14. (415) 771-1421


The Dandy Warhols: you either hate to love them or love to hate them. But regardless of their arrogant pomp, overt cheekiness, and swaggering vocalist Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s pretentious double-hyphenated name, this foursome still comes through with catchy, pop-laced psychedelia that successfully blurs the boundaries between the underground and the mainstream. The Dandys — who made a splash with their 1997 single "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" and later garnered attention as the sell-out antagonists to the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s incorrigible madcap Anton Newcombe in the 2004 documentary DiG! — continue to find commercial success while staying true to their original sound. This show’s openers include the Bay’s Elephone and Oakland’s Audrye Sessions, whose sweeping, romantic indie rock lullabies will thaw even the most jaded heart. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. $30. (415) 625-8880


What hath Vashti wrought? Here they come round the mountain, like Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the credit sequence for Little House on the Prairie — yes, indeedy, the fair maidens with granny hankies of acoustic stringed Americana seem to be multiplying endlessly or cloning themselves through antique alchemical methods such as MySpace. Yet many deliver the goods — and I don’t just mean personally sewn CD packaging; I mean singing and songwriting. Such is definitely the case with the palindromically named Alela Diane, who hails from Joanna Newsom country — Nevada City — but favors guitar over harp and resuscitates Karen Dalton’s quaver with less affectation than Newsom. Humming through teeth, tying tongues in knots, and finding flatlands within mouths, Diane has a definite flair for oral imagery and aural spells: "My Brambles" vividly invokes a favorite word or pet cat, while "The Rifle" and "Lady Divine" flirt with danger instead of falling prey to it à la Marissa Nadler’s eerie murder ballads. (Diane’s handsome friend Rubio Falcor also has a way with a song, if his MySpace cabin is anything to go by.) Along with Zach Rogue and Thao Nguyen, Diane will open for Vic Chesnutt, who is dusting off his shelves and ghetto bells for a few California shows. (Johnny Ray Huston)

7:30 p.m. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF. $15. (415) 861-5016



Followed by a trail of critical acclaim inundated with joint-smoking references and marijuana puns, Dead Meadow are frequently and unfairly categorized as drugged-induced hard rock. Instead the Washington, DC, group possesses a genius far surpassing the clownish gimmickry of unsophisticated stoner jams. As musically intricate and ethereal as they are untamable and beastly, Dead Meadow take inspiration from rock greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin but inhabit a unique and mystical domain where early incarnations of metal coexist with swirling, murky psychedelia — the perfect soundtrack for a druid ritual or black magic spell casting. Starlight Desperation and Spindrift open. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. $12–$14. (415) 861-5016


Chicago’s Ponys are making dangerous music. You know, the kind of stuff you don’t want your little sister listening to for fear that she might become seduced by the unduutf8g rhythms, or worse, that she’d fall for the shaggy-haired drummer. This tough-as-nails garage quartet is the sonic kick in the pants that music fans have been craving. Saddled with thundering guitars and ferocious bass lines, the Ponys bring grit and musical malevolence to a famously frenetic live show. Even better, Jered Gummere’s sneering vocals evoke Richard Hell’s, lending an old-school flavor to a feral yet infectious racket composed of equal parts DIY primordial punk, dirty psych à la Blue Cheer, and Love’s irreverent melodicism. Lemon Sun, the Gris Gris, and Rum Diary open. (Kaufman)

9:30 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10–$12. (415) 621-4455


If you own a television, you might already know the Spinto Band — or at least their song "Oh Mandy," which provided the soundtrack to a Sears commercial. But don’t hold that against this quirky, energetic group from Delaware. While you’re dancing to their melodic, happy, and bouncy brand of indie rock, you’ll forget all about sweaters and washing machines. Also on the lineup: Dios Malos, who offer catchy and experimental SoCal suburban indie pop; the Changes, who make romantic, earnest pop that made them one of Paste‘s bands to watch; and the Old-Fashioned Way, who produce danceable indie with a sense of humor straight outta the Tenderloin. (Molly Freedenberg)

9 p.m. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. $12. (415) 861-2011

For more Noise Pop picks, check out next week’s Guardian.

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