Ten Years of Noise Pop 2001-2011

NOISE POP CELEBRATES ITS TWENTIETH YEAR. 2012 will be my 11th year in a row.

Noise Pop started in 1993. I lived in San Francisco back in those days. Maybe I attended some of those shows in the mid-1990s. Sometimes you go to a gig and you don't know about the festival surrounding it. I came back to SF at the end of 2000, around the time Kid A came out. I became aware of the festival early in 2001, when I decided to interview the band Call and Response. In those days, it seemed like Noise Pop was a festival featuring shows by John Vanderslice, Creeper Lagoon, and Mark Eitzel, plus a lot of local talent. Over the years I discovered it was more.

Noise Pop SF 2001
could best be remembered by performances by The White Stripes, Blonde Redhead, Bright Eyes, and maybe forgotten bands like Beulah, Pedro The Lion, Girls Against Boys, and Oranger.

I did an interview with:
Call and Response (2001)

And later with:
Stratford 4 (2002)
Blonde Redhead (2004)

Noise Pop SF 2002 was the ten year anniversary. It marked the return of The Fastbacks. It was also the year of Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Big Star, Daniel Johnston, The New Pornographers, and Guided By Voices. I was unaware of many of these indie bands who would go on to bigger successes. Internet buzz was a thing of the future. I do remember the "hot" must-see band of this festival was The Faint. I was at this show and was unimpressed. I did catch an early version of the Detroit band Adult. who I interviewed later. I saw The Faint many times later, I became a fan years later. Also this festival featured the final show of The Moldy Peaches.

I did an interview with:
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (2002)
Azure Ray (2002)

Adult. (2003)

Noise Pop SF 2003 I would describe as "very mellow." At least the shows that I went to were that way. Although it started off with a pre-party with Har Mar Superstar. It was the first time I saw him, and would lead to many interviews later. I saw Stephen Malkmus, Cat Power, The Dirtbombs, The Von Bondies, The Pleased, Smog, Calexico, and more. It was probably memorable for being one of the first shows by Joanna Newsom. I ended up doing the very first interview with her, a few months afterwards, a year before her album came out.

I did an interview with:
Joanna Newsom (2003)
The Von Bondies (2003)

And later with:
The Pleased (2004)
Har Mar Superstar (2004)
The Dirtbombs (2004)

Noise Pop SF 2004 I barely remember. There were a load of hot bands but I can hardly remember any of these shows. I look at the list and see Dillinger Escape Plan, Low, Jolie Holland, Trachtenburg Family, British Sea Power, Ted Leo, Dead Meadow, Super Furry Animals, The Stills, Rilo Kiley, Court and Spark, The Wrens, The Tyde, Devendra Banhart, and Joanna Newsom. On paper that looks like a cool festival, but some reason I was not feeling it. I did a few interviews during this festival.

I did an interview with:
Low (2004)
British Sea Power (2004)

I also interviewed:
Devendra Banhart (2002)
The Stills (2004)
The Unicorns (2004)

Noise Pop SF 2005 I had parted ways with Free Williamsburg. I had moved to LA in November 2004 and wouldn't come back to NYC for five years. I was more organized in 2005 and more into the shows. One of the hot tickets was with Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV. Other bands featured were Ted Leo, Mates of State, Smoosh, The Polyphonic Spree, Tussle, Joanna Newsom (she was peaking out in 2005), Bettie Serveert, Two Gallants, Giant Drag, Rogue Wave, Keren Ann, A Girl Called Eddy, and The Walkmen. I went to the wrong venue and discovered Inara George. This was the first year I was working with Keith Martin of SF Burning. It was like another Free Williamsburg hipster site, but located in San Francisco.

I did an interview with:
A Girl Called Eddy (2005)
Louis XIV (2005)

Also interviews with:
Smoosh (2005)
Giant Drag (2006)
The Walkmen (2002)
The Polyphonic Spree (2003)
Keren Ann (2008)

Noise Pop SF 2006 was a very diverse event. It opened with a show with Flaming Lips. Unfortunately I wasn't in town for it. There were also some great acts like Isis, The Dirtbombs, The Black Lips, Britt Daniel, Rogue Wave, Octopus Project, Nous Non Plus, Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid, The National, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, We Are Scientists, The Grates, Xiu Xiu, Feist, Vetiver, and the first tour by Wolfmother. I did an interview with Isis but the tape didn't work properly. My only documented memory is the interview I did with We Are Scientists. I sure can pick them. I ended up seeing We Are Scientists many times during 2006.

I did an interview with:
We Are Scientists (2006)
Also to be noted:
The Flaming Lips (2000)
The Black Lips (2007)
Xiu Xiu (2005)
Vetiver (2008)

Noise Pop SF 2007 I almost didn't go to. I was broke and I had parted ways with SF Burning. They wrote to me that I was fired. I wrote back to them: "SF Burning without me is like Kiss without the makeup." I put a curse on them. Months later the main writer of SF Burning, Tuula Ala, was in a severe bike accident and broke some bones. SF Burning has done about five interviews in the past four years. Good luck with the regime change and the influx of the new San Francisco centric point of view. My friend Brooke really wanted to go this year because it was the first Roky Erickson show in many years. I had barely any money, but we drove up anyways. Besides Roky Erickson and The Explosives, there was Willy Mason, Sebadoh, No Age, French Kicks, The Donnas, Jolie Holland, St. Vincent, Autolux, The Dandy Warhols, Dead Meadow, Brightblack Morning Light, Clinic, Midlake, Cake, and The Dwarves. I did no interviews at Noise Pop this year, due to bad planning. But Brooke did take some photos, and I met Johnny of Crystal Antlers. I remember that this was the first year with a lot of great day parties.

Roky Erickson (2007)

Related interview:
The Dandy Warhols (2003)

Noise Pop SF 2008 was one of those gap years with a few surprises. I remember going to some of the art shows and the parties at the Diesel Store were great. It was here where I first saw The Morning Benders. Some of the stand out acts were Entrance, The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes, The Dodos, Stellastarr*, The Magnetic Fields, The Mountain Goats, Holy Fuck, A Place To Bury Strangers, White Denim, Helio Sequence, Cursive, Darker My Love, The Gutter Twins, British Sea Power, The Virgins, and She & Him. Again I did no interviews during the festival this year but many of the acts were repeats.

Related interviews:
Stellastarr* (2002)
A Place To Bury Strangers (2009)

Noise Pop SF 2009 was yet another year with no interviews and plenty of parties. Many stand out gigs include Antony and The Johnsons, William Basinski, Sleepy Sun, Kings and Queens, Martha Wainwright, The Fresh and The Onlys, Kool Keith, Maus Haus, St. Vincent, The Morning Benders, Bob Mould, Deerhunter, Girls, No Age, Les Savy Fav, and The Drums. When I see these names I recognize a bunch of now hip indie bands. I remember running up a hill to go see Antony and the Johnsons at Masonic Temple. Afterwards I met a friend at Mezzanine where I caught a little of Deerhunter. We ended up getting a drink with Mark Eitzel. Eitzel was his crazy brilliant self. I ended up catching Mountain Goats, Martha Wainwright, but my favorite show was probably St. Vincent, who I have seen a few times now.

Noise Pop SF 2010 was slightly different. I was working with the band Magic Wands. They had been living in Oakland for a few months. On the first night I ran into Har Mar Superstar. Then I went back over to Oakland to see Plastic Ono Band and Deerhoof at the Fox Oakland, my first Noise Pop gig outside SF. The next night I saw Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger at the Independent. The next night I was supposed to see Citay and Scout Nibblet, but I ended up watching Magic Wands practice in Downtown SF. The next night Magic Wands played with Atlas Sound at the Great American Music Hall. A great show. The next night I saw Soundtrack of our Lives and Nico Vega. This was the first year I went with photographer Angel Ceballos, and I interviewed both bands. There were plenty of good bands playing last year: Harlem, Best Coast, Young Prisms, Free Energy, Weekend, The Mummlers, The Growlers, Four Tet, Mark Kozelek, Magnetic Fields, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and The Watson Twins, but I was too busy to check out many of the bands. But I had a fun time.

The Soundtrack of our Lives
Nico Vega
The Watson Twins

NOISE POP SF 2011 I spent a lot of time with Tamaryn and Nick Zinner. I kept running into the same crowd at every twist and turn. I saw some interesting films about Feist and Devendra Banhart. The best shows were The Black Ryder + The Soft Moon at Cafe du Nord. Best Coast and Wavves was very packed at the Regency Ballroom.

--Alexander Laurence