Live: Tapes N Tapes Date: Tuesday, February 27 Opener: Har Mar Superstar, Extra Action Marching Band, DJ David Cross Better than: your average Tuesday night without an open bar Rating: two out of five bananas
Industry insiders and indie scenesters followed their primary rule of "don't act excited" during the opening night of the 15th Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco Tuesday, denying headliners Tapes N Tapes an encore while politely golf-clapping with one hand clutching a free Heineken. The underwhelming evening stayed afloat thanks to the open VIP bar, the Extra Action Marching Band, and other great performances. But let's face it - it's frickin' Tuesday and we all have to work the next day.
Comprising 110 bands over 6 days at more than a dozen venues, San Francisco's Noise Pop Festival is arguably the biggest Northern California music event, even though it's 10 times smaller than Austin's South By Southwest. Tuesday's show at the Mezzanine kicked off the event thanks to Doc Martens, who sponsored the FREEDM Night - meaning free entrance to web-savvy applicants, a 90-minute open bar, and hundreds of pounds of free posters, t-shirts, eMusic gift cards and ice cream.
Highlights included Midwestern indie quartet Tapes N Tapes performing all the good songs off their 2005 debut The Loon, including "Just Drums" and "Manitoba" which had maybe 10 percent of the crowd dancing, and ended with no encore.
Equally denied, Oakland's Extra Action Marching Band ushered in Noise properly with a blasting, 25-person person brass and dance ensemble that worked its way through the crowd. Lots of pounding drums and trumpets and g-strings and pom-poms made Mezzanine feel like a Mardi Gras parade, except for the goddam audience, who seemed drugged with lithium. If some small town hall in Santa Cruz got a chance to party hard with Extra Action, they would've torn the fucking place apart.
Similarly, party-hungry inland crowds would also riot if they saw Minneapolis' Har Mar Superstar do his thing, but he would be the target. There's nothing quite like this balding, beer-gut-laden white dude crooning "Sexy/Back"-style dance pop while flashing his man boobs. His sincerity made up for his vulgarity. And anyone willing to strip down to their tightey-whiteys in front of the meanest crowd in North American has two swinging brass ones that go clang-clang when he dances. "Fuck you for not applauding that," Har Mar said after a particularly exposing ass-dance. Fuck you, indeed.
PS: Comedian David Cross DJ'd a set, but no one danced or even stepped within 10 meters of his turntable for fear of some searing burn about being a hipster. Touche, Mr. Cross and your invisible moat of heckling.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Previous experience: Tapes N Tapes' The Loon; Public Enemy at Mezzanine Personal bias: Pro-The Loon; Pro-bands with brass and nudity; anti-ennui Random quote of the night: "I should be a billionare." -Har Mar Superstar
VIDEO OUT: Oakland's epic Extra Action Marching Band
Har Mar Titty Flash
Tapes N Tapes do "Manitoba"
Today we spotlight not a song, not an artist, but an entire compilation of music by local youth. The Future Builders are four East Bay teens who have banded together to raise money and awareness for humanitarian and environmental organizations worldwide. Their mission is channelled through local music: In addition to producing this CD, the Future Builders have organized benefit concerts in Oakland for more than a year. Impressively, ten of One Note at a Time's thirteen tracks were recorded by fifteen-year-old Zeke Nierenberg in his bedroom studio. Nierenberg also produced the entire CD, with assistance from Nathan Brietling and fellow Future Builders Adam Becker (fifteen), Hannah Kopp-Yates (sixteen), and Andrew Miller (fifteen). The collection includes songs from Panda, Duct Tape Mafia, Stop the Malarky, and 5606. All proceeds from the $10 compilation go to Sustainable Harvest International, which assists farmers in planting sustainable, rainforest-restoring crops.
Victor Sila of SF-based funk group Sila and the Afrofunk Experience told the Express today through email that he was involved in a triple-rollover car accident in the wilds of Kenya during the middle of the night on January 29. Sila, who was in the country to visit family, was riding in the vehicle with his sister and a couple friends when its front two tires burst, causing it to roll three times before resting upside down near the edge of a cliff. The passengers suffered only minor injuries. Further details about the cause of the burst tires or the speed at which the car was traveling are unknown at this time. Sila did report that he was the only one not wearing a seatbelt.
Sila went on to explain that he and the other passengers hung upside down in the car "for what seemed like an eternity fearing for our lives" -- not only because of the accident, but also because of stories he'd heard about criminals in Kenya staging accidents such as this in order to rob the victims as they lie helpless. He also worried that "ordinary people" may seize the opportunity to rob Sila and his family and friends.
According to Sila, numerous cars drove by without stopping, while a few drivers paused to ask questions without offering any assistance. Finally, a British man who came across the upturned vehicle stopped and helped to open its back door. He stayed at the scene until police arrived. The car was totalled, and police were shocked that injuries had not been more severe.
"Surviving an accident like that has taught me a valuable lesson: kindness and generosity to your fellow man/woman is good karma," wrote Sila at the end of his email. "Life is short, live it up and dance." Words of wisdom from a lucky man who was recently featured on the cover of the San Francisco Examiner. Also: Probably best to avoid driving through the wilds of Kenya in the middle of the night.
If you happen to be tuned into the final broadcast of Bay Area radio station 95.7 Max FM it's, um, sort of apocalyptic. Apparently they've wired a Speak N' Spell into the console, and it's counting down the seconds until 7:50 am Thursday morning, when Max FM goes off the air and is replaced by a new station that will be, according to the station's final message on its Web site, "fun, energetic, Bay Area focused and unlike any other station in the area." That's a little mysterious, considering that Bonneville International, the radio network that owns Max FM, also owns the decidedly non-energetic classical music station KDFC (tag line: "an oasis of calm") as well as that purveyor of dentist-office music, KOIT. Even weirder, between the digital announcements of how much time is left, the countdown voice says something random like, "Are those Bugle Boy jeans you're wearing?" or "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line." Aw Max FM, we hardly knew ye, but now we'll sort of miss you, given the way you've turned your own reformatting into a creepy, DJ-less, robotic death march. Anyway, T minus 17 hours, 11 minutes, 46 seconds, and counting.
The Express' loyal cadre of monkeys at typewriters can do more than just produce articles and blog posts. They can also crunch numbers. With minimal prodding from their benevolent masters, they recently produced a useful analysis of Noise Pop 2007's lineup in terms of which artists have played the festival in past years and precisely how many times. A breakdown of their findings follows after the jump.
Out of a total of 111 artists on this year's schedule, 38 have played in past years (dating back to the festival's debut in 1993). That's a healthy 34 percent; in simpler terms, one-third of this year's performers have played Noise Pop before, while a full two-thirds are brand[new to the festival. Of the 38 repeats, most have played only once before, and more than half are local acts (designated below by an asterisk). Go here to see the complete Noise Pop schedule.
And now for the cold, hard numbers produced by our simian comrades.
Number of past appearances at Noise Pop festivals among 2007 participants, in descending order:
5 John Vanderslice*
4 David Dondero*
3 Zach Rogue (including w/ Rogue Wave)* The Rum Diary*
2 Aqueduct The Donnas* Earlimart Elephone* Erase Errata* Minipop* Trainwreck Riders*
1 Audrye Sessions* Black Fiction The Botticellis* Brightblack Morning Light Etienne de Rocher* Dead Meadow Ester Drang Jolie Holland* Honeycut* Damien Jurado Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Willy Mason Midlake Midnight Movies Money Mark Alexi Murdoch The New Amsterdams The New Trust* Pants Pants Pants* Push To Talk* Scissors for Lefty* Scrabbel* Send For Help* Starlight Desperation Street To Nowhere* The Submarines
*Bay Area acts.
Al Gore announces climate change concerts that include Snoop Dogg, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Embattled Britney goes bald and gets a tattoo .
Oakland female DJ's attempt to change the perspective of women in hip-hop.
Chris Cornell bolts from Audioslave.
Oakland DJ Fresh teaches middle school kids how to DJ battle.
Berkeley's Rock and Roll Kids make country hillbilly music for city kids.
Feature on what the recent arrest by the RIAA of Atlanta DJ's caught making underground mix CDs means for the music industry.
10 Ways to fix the Music Biz. A step-by-step guide on how to fix the music industry, according to, um, Spin?
NOISEPOP PICKS Here's the deal. Noisepop is going down in history as your most ultimate six-day weekend in human existence. The big downer is that your buzz will undoubtedly be killed by the plethora of snooty attitudes thanks be to the local population abound of whom are commonly referred to as the Pretentious Art Fucks. South Park wasn't lying, San Francisco does have the highest smug levels in the nation, and it's not just hybrid car owners. So make the best of your time. You won't go two seconds without being surrounded by kids dressed like Russian spies, so you might as well bang your head as hard you can. Right, player?
Wednesday 2/28 Don't act like you didn't tape every episode of 120 Minutes back in the day, watching while crossing your fingers for anything dealing with Lou Barlow. Sebadoh is going to rock, and you know it. Besides, tickets for Rage Against the Machine at Coachella are all sold out, and you have to relive the 90s at least once this year. 8 PM at Great American Music Hall, $18, $20. All ages.
Thursday 3/1 Life will be sparse with beats and rhymes at this year's Noisepop, so get your fix from the Bay Area's own Lyrics Born, performing with The Coup. It's been nearly two years since his last offering, but odds are LB will still win you over with funky-soul beats and gravely vocals that never felt so smooth. Not to mention Boots and The Coup seem to be recovering quite nicely from their recent accident, and should get you sufficiently wet for Lyrics Born. 8 PM at the Fillmore, $25. All ages.
Friday, 3/2 Sorry, TV on the Radio, The Arcade Fire or Interpol couldn't be here. But hey, go check out Autolux. They're definitely on the junior varsity indie rock team, but that means they're getting better. Don't end up like the time you gave up on Blonde Redhead before Misery is a Butterfly. Keep hope alive! 9 PM at the Independent, $12, $14. 21+
Saturday, 3/3 You'd gladly trade in this entire festival for a few good hours with Radiohead. Do the next best thing and check out one of their favorite bands, Clinic. Smoke a bowl beforehand, then bug out and wonder if Ade Blackburn got his jaw wired shut like Kanye. 9 PM at the Independent, $17. 21+.
Sunday, 3/4 If you want some thorough entertainment, see if The Dwarves pull some old school crazy shit, or just go laugh at jokes rife with puppy cunnilingus, gay retards, and an awkward white girl impersonating Alicia Keys. The Comedians of Comedy could quite possibly be the high point of your Noisepop experience. The indie elitists can't be jerks at a comedy show, can they? 2 shows, 6 PM and 9 PM at the Independent, $24. 21+. --Oscar Pascual
People who buy greater Los Angeles' Cold War Kids also buy the Shins, Yo La Tengo, and TV on the Radio. They also bought all the tickets to this week's show at the Great American Music Hall, goddammit. These Spin Artists of the Year demanded all of $15 for their four-star guitar-and-hooks formula, and the market has responded. The Cold War Kids' latest, Robbers and Cowards , continues to move units by pleasing folks who like Sonic Youth, Bloc Party, and at least the theory behind the Strokes. Try to get in at the door by saying you're from Fullerton. Tonight at 8 p.m., $15 (sold out). MusicHallSF.com.
Fortune rarely offers us the opportunity to watch dozens of middle-aged yuppies boogying down to soul hits like "Shotgun" and "Do the Boomerang" in their sensible shoes, especially at 10 p.m. on a Monday night. Yet, all bets were off when jazz clarinetist Don Byron descended on Yoshi's last Monday with his new funk group, which formed in 2005 as a tribute to Motown legend Junior Walker. Byron says he formed the group as an homage to the R&B horn sections that formed a soundtrack for his childhood. In order to properly capture the spirit of Junior Walker, the bandleader traded in his clarinet for a brassy tenor sax.
Clapping hands and saying "yeah" throughout, the audience members ramped up their frenetic, birdlike gestures whenever Hammond B-3 organist George Colligan took the spotlight. Colligan, who supposedly moonlights as a trumpeter, took the old standards that Byron revisits on his latest album, Do the Boomerang (named for Walker's 1965 #10 R&B hit) and completely wrecked them. Coupled with singer Dean Bowman, whose primal ooh-loo-loos and unctuous falsetto brought the dancers to a state of evident bliss (represented in movements that looked like they were designed to colonize as much space as possible), Colligan brought the house down. But for a couple exceptionally funky drum fills (albeit with a closed high hat) from Will Calhoun, his solos were by far the zenith of Byron's performance. This fact was not lost on Byron, who seemed to be in the habit of cutting his organist off a few bars early -- and not without a hint of schadenfreude.
Though Bloody Heads' old MySpace slogan "Hella Bloody" probably piqued a lot of people's interest, it apparently brought bad publicity to the local rock outfit, who've since changed the epithet to "We just wanna have a good time." Yeah, it's a little cloying. Still, the new slogan befits this folksy indie group, whose singer Caleb Nichols and drummer Josh Barnhart met in a junior high PE class and hooked up with the New England Conservatory students Giacomo Merega and Jameson Swanagon more than a decade later.
Admittedly, these guys are strange bedfellows -- a pair of self-proclaimed "garage-band rats" and a pair of microtonal theory scholars -- and they've got a strange, convoluted recording process, to boot: When the group set out to make its 2006 EP Bill Collector, Arcadia-based singer Nichols recorded the tracks in Oakland, then mailed them to Boston for bassist Merega and guitarist Swanagon to add their parts. Despite such peculiarities, Bloody Heads' music sounds remarkably tidy and trim.
For the Bloody Heads, "having a good time" apparently means finding unsavory ways to merchandize themselves. Nichols, who also sings in the group Port O'Brien along with Barnhart, says that when both bands were still in their prokaryotic phase, they released something called the Bloody O'Brien's Box. Said box consisted of two albums, a recording of the two groups' live sets, a patch, a button, and a grisly (we hope) creation myth detailing the origins of the Bloody O'Briens. Though the box is no longer available, Nichols says they're contemplating a Bloody Bundle -- they'd tie it together in twine. Click here to hear Bloody Heads streaming live.