Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Bring The Noise
Last week, I made a vague, arm-waving attempt to round up the various outdoor festivals taking place around North America this year (and since it went up, a few dates have been updated and one fest has been cancelled) and consciously avoided including their mutli-day, club-hopping, running water-friendly brethren.
That’s because aside from the obvious big ones – SxSW and CMJ – they tend to be smaller or more regional events and thus largely off the radar of anyone who doesn’t live in the vicinity. On top of that, they’re also more likely to be industry hack-scummy rather than corporate sponsorship-scummy (though certainly not exclusively so) though there are happy exceptions. Pop Montreal has been a fine example of an in-city festival that can be very fan- and artist-friendly and one that I’ve had the pleasure to both attend and by putting on a show last year, participate in.
And next month, as part of The Hot Freaks music blogger collective, I’m excited to be a sponsor/partner/friend to the Noise Pop festival running from February 26 to March 2 in San Francisco. Celebrating its 16th year, Noise Pop has generally marked the start of the festival season with many bands kicking off tours of the west/southwestern US there en route to SxSW a couple of weeks later. Though they may not boast the same overall quantity of acts as some fests, the level of quality is always high and this year’s no different with the centrepieces being a two-night stand from The Magnetic Fields and three shows from The Mountain Goats, as well as the first live show from She & Him and appearances from such acts British Sea Power, The Walkmen, The Gutter Twins and A Place To Bury Strangers (who ably represent the “noise” part of the equation) and Minipop, Tilly & The Wall and The Rosebuds to handle the “pop”.
On top of this, there are film and art components which will include a screening of director Vincent Moon’s film about The National (from whence these performances come), A Skin, A Night, an art installation from Yoko Ono and an exhibition of rare Elliott Smith photographs from Autumn de Wilde’s book on the late singer. Sadly, I’m only going to be able to attend a couple days of the affair – stupid real life getting in the way of my fun – but am really looking forward not only to seeing as many of the performances as I can, but to visit San Francisco again – I haven’t been there in some sixteen years, which is really far too long.
And in perfect timing with this, we have the new video from The Mountain Goats’ forthcoming Heretic Pride, out February 19. As you can see in the wonderful clip, which allows you to sing along without having to follow the bouncing ball, the Goats are now officially a three-piece with Superchunk stickman Jon Wurster in the fold. But those fearing that this will upset the delicate Goats balance need not worry – Heretic Pride is no rock monolith, though relative to Get Lonely it’s decidedly more lively and the drums are part of that. No, to my ears the arrangements are bigger in exactly the right places and right amounts and the record marks the next logical step in the evolution of the Mountain Goats sound, since Tallahassee, at least.
The Von Pip Musical Express lands an interview with Miki Berenyi, formerly of Lush, and is told (again) to not hold one’s breath for a reunion. They also talk to a few of her recent and rare collaborators.
Bradley’s Almanac is offering up live recordings of the all-star benefit concert for Callum Robbins, son of Jawbox’s J. Robbins. Head over for the recordings and full details on the reasons for the benefit and ways to donate.