Noise Pop Festival: Top Picks From The Nest

February 13. 2012 | By Mayumi Okamoto

The 20th Anniversary year of San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival is right around the corner with official music festivities kicking off on Tuesday, February 21st at various venues throughout this great city. With so many acts in attendance this year there is naturally a wide array of genres represented in the lineup to appeal to almost everyone, even the self-proclaimed snob with the most eclectic musical sensibilities. You may want to take advantage of Noise Pop’s custom schedule to create your own personal lineup for the week to stay organized. While sold-out shows for The Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, and SF locals Two Gallants will undoubtedly be major draws to this year’s festival, the Noise Pop lineup boasts some impressive talent that you may or may not know about. Check out our list of recommended festival picks and bonus tips:

Thursday, February 16, 2012:
Kick the 20th Anniversary off right this Thursday, February 16th at the California Academy of Sciences with NightLife, the weekly event at the museum featuring jellyfish, rain forest exhibits, and a special musical performance this week by Brooklyn-based electro-pop band, Class Actress. TIP: This week’s NightLife at the CAS falls on the cusp of both SF Beer Week and the Noise Pop Festival (bonus tip: we’re giving away tickets HERE). Local brews, awe inspiring exhibits, and Class Actress? Sign us up. Tickets are $12 for this 21+ event, 6:00 PM.

February 21, 2012:
Fans of The Hold Steady should not miss frontman Craig Finn‘s solo performance at Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday, February 21st. Finn recently released his solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes on January 24th. Sad Baby Wolf, Mount Moriah, and Ash Reiter will support. Tickets are $15 for this all ages event, 7:00 PM.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012:
What’s better than a Happy Hour after a long day? How about a FREE Happy Hour hosted by us, The Owl Mag, and our good friends at Audyssey, featuring performances by two on-the-rise Bay Area bands, Picture Atlantic and Coast Jumper as well as Los Angeles buzz-band The Soft Swells on Wednesday, February 22nd. TIP: You can download a copy of Coast Jumper’s latest album Grand Opening here. Happy Hour starts at 5:00 PM at Bender’s Bar located on South Van Ness between 19th and 20th. Did we mention that this event is FREE?

Immediately following the Audyssey/The Owl Mag Happy Hour, take a five-minute cab from Bender’s Bar to Great American Music Hall for another event hosted by yours truly. We are very proud and beyond ecstatic to host an evening with Cursive, Ume, Virgin Islands, and Taxes. are $19 in advance, $21 at the door for this all ages event, 7:00 PM. TIP: Enter HERE to win a FREE pair of tickets to the show on us.

If you want to venture down to Divisadero Street, we also highly recommend popping into The Independent on February 22nd to check out co-headlining bands Papercuts and Sonny and the Sunsets. We love Jason Robert Quever’s lo-fi aesthetic on Papercuts‘ 2011 release Fading Parade and Sonny and the Sunsets‘ 1960s influenced album Hit After Hit, bringing audiences exactly what they promise. are $15 for this 21+ event, 7:30 PM.

Thursday, February 23, 2012:
Thao Nguyen and John Vanderslice are paired together to co-headline what promises to be a magical evening at Bottom of the Hill. This is not the first time Nguyen and Vanderslice are co-headlining a show together. Almost two years ago, the pair also shared the bill for Regional Bias. This time around, Garrett Pierce and Bird by Snow will support. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door for this 21+ event, 7:00 PM.

If you’re looking to step up the danceability level a little bit, seek out SF locals Dirty Ghosts at Brick and Mortar, also on Thursday, February 23rd. There’s no better time to catch Dirty Ghosts in San Francisco. The band’s debut album Metal Moon will release just two days prior on Last Gang Records. Bare Wires, Chapter 24, and Chains of Love will join them at Brick and Mortar. TIP: Listen to and download “Ropes That Way,” the first single off of Metal Moon. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door for this 21+ event, 8:00 PM.

Friday, February 24, 2012:
We hope you are decisive because there are some tough decisions to make on Friday, February 24th. Let’s look at two of our recommendations which fall completely on the opposite sides of the musical spectrum.

Head on over to Mezzanine wearing comfortable clothes and footwear and prepare to get sweaty as you groove to Ida No and Johnny Jewel, better known as Glass Candy. While we’ve heard rumblings of the band’s less than stellar performance at last year’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles, we are willing to give them another go because we love electro beats produced by mastermind Johnny Jewel. In addition, the Jewel-produced Chromatics will support along with Portland’s Soft Metals, who we’ve heard so much about. TIP: Stream Johnny Jewel’s two-and-a-half-hour long film score Symmetry: Themes for an Imaginary Film. Tickets are $19 for this 21+ event, 8:00 PM.

If mellow soulful folk is what you seek, then Swedish American Hall is where you want to be. If you missed last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, then you missed the lovely Jolie Holland, the Houston-based songstress who draws frequent comparisons to Billie Holiday with her unique blend of folk and jazz vocals. Holland will team up with Will Sprott, frontman for The Mumlers, for a night showcasing both of their solid songwriting abilities. Dreams and Emily Jane White join the bill for the evening. are $16.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door for this 21+ event, 7:00 PM.

Saturday, February 25, 2012:
Our last pick of the festival is a band whose name was tossed around on our Best of 2011 List. Florida-bred Surfer Blood is definitely a band you should get to know. Their debut album Astro Coast released in early 2010 to critical acclaim with music bloggers praising the band’s solid guitar work and melodies that are just to bloody catchy. Surfer Blood quickly followed up Astro Coast with Tarot Classics a short six-song EP in 2011. The Lonely Forest, Cate Le Bon, and The She’s will open. This show is sold out, though as much as we hate going through third-party ticket outlets, we did notice that there are tickets available for this show on Stubhub. Surfer Blood is just that good. TIP: If you are attending this show, look for The Owl Mag‘s bossman and bosslady and say hello! The show is 21+, 7:30PM.

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