In between drinking Budweiser from a giant red bucket and questioning the new indie version of Tawny Kitaen, we managed to bounce all along Market Street for day two of the Noise Pop festivities while blabbering on about shitty housemates and cab driver crushes. You know, the regular.
Tuesday night hosted the first of three free happy hours, courtesy of SF’s Diesel flagship store downtown. While I enjoyed tasty cerveza and local outfit Girls adorned the miniscule stage, I contemplated why there weren’t more free happy hours in the city, and why there were also umbrellas to go with our drinks. Really? Is this Hawaii?
After hometown favorite Omar took reign of the DJ decks and I petted a random puppy that popped out of his owner’s bag, we continued to chill by some pants racks before chatting to Girls’ Christopher outside and talking about the night’s plans. We guzzled a last drink before popping over to The Mountain Goats’ acoustic show at Swedish American Music Hall. I’ve always joked that it was modeled after a high school cafeteria, but the absence of any décor or distinguishing architecture is made up for by the pristine sound the venue produces. Acoustics sound best at this place, and singer John Darnielle’s wry, poetic lyrics nestled quite brilliantly among the crowd. He also produced comedic swipes in between songs that actually were fairly funny: pro-wrestling diatribe, a professed love for Amy Grant, going to Warrant/White Lion shows regularly, and dating: “If I was sleeping with you I wouldn’t tell you to tell me my penis is bigger than it is.” Armed with just a guitar and backed by a lush red curtain, Darnielle’s talent was his selling point. Song “No Children” stood particularly out; “I hope we both die/I hope I cut myself shaving” somehow resonated with me more than I care to admit.
Pizza provided a refuel of energy before heading over to Sleepy Sun at Bottom of the Hill. Opening band Lumerians were just finishing up, who had a near impeccable rhythm section and were shrouded behind sheets of black tulle on stage. Somehow I seemingly stumbled onto another show with a wall of sound, but thankfully I walked away with my eardrums still in tact (I’m looking at you, Deerhunter).
Truthfully though, I did not prepare for the weirdness of Sleepy Sun. Maybe because my beer buzz was wearing off at this point, and maybe that was why I was initially annoyed, but I sorta felt like member Rachael Williams was trying too hard to be sexy. Here was this great prog sound coupled with blues elements and sharp vocals, and yet I was distracted by her shimmying about the stage like it was a dance recital. But then I found out the band was birthed in Santa Cruz and that Williams was responsible for “vocals, haberdashery, and interpretive dancing,” and I was like, “Oh, makes sense.” I just thought she was trying to be an indie Tawny Kitaen and in my head I was going, “Girl, this is not a fucking Whitesnake video. Calm your hips.”
After a while though her dancing actually became adorable (because really, people excited about stuff is pretty cute), and I began to focus on the music. Opener “New Age,” which had a principled percussion line complete with clapping, brought me in, and it was a treat to see how five kids younger than me grasped the idea of San Francisco 60s rock, added some maracas and deep bass, and were able to create a manifesto complete of their own style. Maybe the live show was weird for all the wrong reasons, but the music was spot on, and I was then able to see past the sequined dress. No, really.
The rain started to softly sprinkle in when I departed the show; walking home from my bus stop, I hurriedly tried to quicken my pace as to not damage my photo equipment. “Oh mama, get home soon so you can put on some pants!” a dude on the street chided my way, commenting on my outfit. “Sure thing, dude,” I thought to myself. “But this is gonna happen all over again tomorrow.”