It's that time of year again—when we celebrate a week of local music in the Bay Area by boasting Noise Pop: the Bay Area's premiere indie music festival. Truly, it's an exciting time to be alive. Bands will influx. Tickets will sell out. The Bay Guardian will do a puff piece-turned-cover story on up-and-coming bands that are on the middle of the marquee list of Noise Pop artists. All those bands will share their newfound exposure on their facebooks, and the wheels of blogocracy will keep turning.
Except, here's the thing about Noise Pop: it's just a week of San Francisco shows. We live in a major metropolitan area with vast appeal and resources, any given week of shows is good, and Noise Pop makes a random week of the year out to be, somehow, a thing. To call this week of shows somehow spectacular (or even, particular), is a bombastic and perplexing tradition that serves little tangible meaning in the Bay Area music scene. It's a waste of energy that distracts—not highlights—from the terrific and unwavering musical draw and appreciation the Bay Area has.
Perhaps the greatest misdemeanor Noise Pop commits is that the so called 'Festival' suffers from a complete deficit of noteworthy headliners. For example, Noise Pop 2013 headliners include:
Toro Y Moi: Don't get me wrong, Toro Y Moi is a great and tremendously relevant band that does a terrific live show, but fall short of being considered the flagship headliner of a music festival, especially considering they've done three Bay Area shows in the last two years.
Body/Head: You run a real gamble paying money to see a Kim Gordon noise project in concert: you might witness one of the most profound and honest pieces of musical performance art in the modern era, or you might see a totally self-indulgent spectacle of humiliation and shame. There is a good chance, actually, that the concert will be both. As cool as it may or may not be, it is a guaranteed salting of our collective wounds that Sonic Youth will probably never get back together, and that children (us) are the real losers in divorce.
Rogue Wave: Playing the Noise Pop Festival in a rare Bay Area live appearance.
Amon Tobin: That's cool. Amon Tobin is cool, except, he's playing a DJ set. Not putting the 'DJ set' in parentheses next to your music festival's feature headliner is kind of like padding your bra in the giant middle school that is San Francisco.
!!! (chk chk chk): !! was the most bloggable band of 2005, immediately before people began to realize the psychedelic jam rock they were listening to was the very same psychedelic jam rock they don't care for very much at all. Almost immediately after their plateau, the band would become largely marginalized by a new influx of electronic bands. A more accurate name for this band today would be '…', which will also be your reaction when you realized you payed $23 to see this band in concert.
Look, no offense to Portland or Los Angeles or New York, but fuck those cities. We live in the greatest city in America. We don't need to create imaginary music festivals to make ourselves cool. Go to foopee.com—a website that outlines every show happening in the Bay Area on any given night, for weeks into the future—and you'll find that every week in San Francisco is a relentless deluge of awesome shows both with big and small bands.
Spend a few dollars to go see some shitty band's first show at Bottom of the Hill. Sell some jorts at Buffalo Exchange so you can get $12 to go support that new venue on Valencia. Don't do it under the guise of a festival, do it because it's a fucking Wednesday. We don't need to waste our time making a big deal about a Thao And The Get Down Stay Down show, pretending it's part of a some big art and culture festival. It isn't. So before you spend $150 on a Noise Pop lift pass that gets you into (some of) the Noise Pop shows, remember: Noise Pop is all in your head.