Noise Pop has always seemed kinda appealing from afar. It's like Dudes isn't San Francisco the home of Free Love or whatever? Was that only a long time ago? WHO KNOWS! Either way, the musical landscape is sorta different these days so we got some reporting from the field by Noah Blumberg aka Quarby of the SF based blog Sneakmove, and photos by Mike Senese. Also, we snapped a couple pictures of our daily happy hour, hosted with the help of Diesel and featuring complimentary beverages from Bass and Black Swan Wine to accompany tunes by Two Gallants and The Virgins among a whole bunch more. Check out Blumberg's recap after the jump, and scroll down to the bottom for a couple snaps from our happy hour.
I've been to Bottom of the Hill more than any other venue. It's the best place in the bay area to see good bands that aren't huge yet. I didn't know quite what to expect on the way to this show, though. I told Photo Mike maybe it'd be a bunch of dudes in lace-up moccasin boots. How wrong I was! It was more of a festival crowd with curious newcomers looking to find their new favorite band.
It was packed, but we made it near the stage next to the 40 other people taking pictures and video footage. Before Fleet Foxes came on I had the unfortunate experience of standing next to an extremely drunk couple vigorously licking the insides of each other's mouths. They stumbled away just as the Sub Pop signees took the stage. Their set was definitely the highlight of the evening. I can't remember ever hearing vocal harmonies quite so beautiful outside of a choral recital. It was really astounding. I kept trying to place little parts that reminded me of other bands: Panda Bear or maybe Iron and Wine or early My Morning Jacket. Or maybe even America, Fleetwood Mac, and Simon and Garfunkel. Incidentally, the bass player looks like a larger and more masculine version of Paul Simon. Plus, he makes the same faces when he sings.
Blitzen Trapper look like they’re fronted by psychotic version of the cast of Happy Days. From stage left it was Richie, the Fonz, and Ralph Malph. They're a very entertaining bunch—jumping from stoney country party tunes to ac/dc math rock. They completely ripped it up, and the stop/start parts in some of their louder songs let you rock just long enough while still keeping you off kilter.
Every time I go to Mighty I trip over this one small step down to the dancefloor. It's always dark and disorienting there like the hold of an old ship—all underground with big wood beams. The newish set-up in there is pretty elaborate. There are about 6 huge LCD TVs around the stage showing anonymous imagery on loop. Close-ups of lips, clouds of smoke, old school video games. The stage is tiny. Trackademicks and crew couldn't really all fit up there.
Before Wale came out, a spontaneous dance circle broke out to the left of the stage. There were a couple breakers at the center of things doing head stands and all types of floorwork. He ran through a bunch of his more well-known songs like "Good Girls" and "Nike Boots", but the crowd really responded to "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.". Not surprising I guess. With Nick Catchdubs on the decks, Wale took us on a tour of east, west, and southern rap styles. They played some of their favorite records, making sure to give extra props to the south for having so much club appeal. He's right too. There's something special about the double time hi-hat. It lets you nod your head at 150bpm but you still look cool because the rest of you is moving at 75bpm.
Tonight I'm back at Mighty for MSTRKRFT. The dude outside the club in a tux with a top hat was the highlight for sure. The place was pretty much packed, about half the crowd was dancing to Lazaro Casanova's set, the kick drum only stopping for the occasional obligatory ascending filtered loop buildup. I'm not talking shit though, it was expertly executed. Lazaro came out to wave goodbye and thank the audience as his set was ending. The crowd LOVED him and reached out to grab his hand. He waved goodbye, one hand clutching a bottle of Crown Royal. A thirsty young lady asked for some, he was all too happy to oblige.
There were all types of warm filmy vintage footage moving and repeating to the music. We went around to look at the video set up and noticed it was being run by our pal Greg from On the Fly films. I'm ignorant of such things, but it was pretty amazing to see him manually throwing video and images in time to Sleazmore's set. Greg gave us the heads up about the forthcoming confetti canon that was going to go off as MSTRKRFT started. We scrambled to get in position. The Toronto twosome got up there and began things with a soul loop. It was so different than what had been going on that everyone perked up. Then BAM! The confetti cannon shot gold, white, and silver stuff everywhere, the beat kicked in, and everyone went nuts. The set began pretty tame by MSTRKRFT standards, but eventually moved to the more hard-edged, distorted tracks I associate with them. It was hot and everyone pretty much got what they came for.
—Quarby of Sneakmove