The local music lover’s guide to Noise Pop Fest 2023
New releases: a heater by Ozer & EaSWay, another hyper-collaborative hip hop album from Qamp, the return of Meg Baird, luxurious India Sky, and heavy metal Blackwülf
Can you believe Noise Pop Festival is about to hit its 30th year? From a one-night-only showcase to a beloved week-long festival celebrating the independent spirit in music (and occasionally art and film, too), Noise Pop is now a definitive fixture of the San Francisco Bay Area arts scene.
This year’s roster still retains that buck-the-system philosophy but also has a strong showing of locals in the larger fonts, either acts that are located here or with more distant Bay Area roots. It’s also diverse in terms of sound with pop, hip hop, jazz, and DJs to dance the night away to.
White Crate exists to bring you the best of the Bay’s vast music landscape, and there are tons of local talent to highlight on this year’s roster. So please enjoy the complete local music lover’s guide to Noise Pop Fest 2023, written by Jody Amable. Then listen to the Spotify playlist! See you at the shows?
IT’S LIKE A HEATWAVE
Anyone who caught last month’s Family Not a Group showcase at the Chapel doesn’t need to hear it from me: Ozer and EaSWay rising to the top of the SF rap game. They know it too, unapologetic about recreating OutKast’s Stankonia album art and referencing Biggie, Kendrick, Ludacris, and other greats throughout their new five-track EP. Except for “Heatwave,” the sexy banging super danceable single dropped last August, Slaponia sees Ozer and EaSWay dialing into slow, groovy beats. It’s great to see them continuing their easy collaboration, riffing off each other along with features by Luvc4 and Serg2x.
Check out the next Family Not a Group function at El Rio on Saturday, February 18, featuring Carlo Guapi, Jenset, Swaggyy B, DJSAY, Tia Nomore, Baghead, Emelle, Afterthought, and Marika Sage.
— Ronny Kerr
COMMUNITY & SPONTANEITY
Marquito and Casey Cope are back with Qamp II, a hyper-collaborative hip hop and R&B album created in three days:
“With no prepared content nor knowledge of the invitee list prior to the gathering, the participants shuffle between two well-equipped studios and conjure a project from scratch – the only limit being their capacity to commune.”
You get Isaiah Mostafa and ASTU pouring out their angelic voices. Pandaraps breathlessly flowing. Artist Named You speaking soft and gentle with musical incandescence. AroMa, crushing heart, lungs pumping out passion. Marika Sage, Cash Campain, Nuxia, Big Soda, Tommy Holmes, Alexa Prus, Bianca Brown, Hokage Simon. And Casey Cope and Marquito tying the thread together with neat bars and wide consciousness throughout. All in all, it’s a fitting tribute to the power of community, creativity, and spontaneity—perfection is nothing, the practice is everything.
— Ronny Kerr
SHIMMERING, MYSTICAL FOLK
It’s hard to believe Meg Baird has anything left in her. Her Bandcamp discography stretches back to 2007—ancient history in the San Francisco scene. Plenty of artists have given up in less time (or worse, moved to LA) but Meg marches on with a voice like a mourning veil and an ear for the gentle and sublime. And that’s to say nothing of her established cred in collaborations with indie folk luminaries like Mary Lattimore and supergroup Heron Oblivion.
Her first new album in seven years, Furling is an unexpectedly upbeat addition to her catalog. Ditching some (keyword: “some”) of the darkness that stalks her previous records, Furling cautiously folds in shimmering, bright sounds on tracks like the softly cycling “Twelve Saints,” and, ironically, “The Saddest Verses,” even approaching a straightforward rock beat on “Will You Follow Me Home?” It is slightly more complex in production than previous releases, and a little less tuneful than we’re used to, but it still continues in that Meg Baird tradition: mystical and transporting with airy vocals used sparingly.
— Jody Amable
Somewhere Over the Mystic Moon ripples some celestial ocean, ready to whisk you away on soft, silky synth pads. Oakland artist India Sky invites us to re-acquaint the soul and body with pleasure, lightness, and luxuriation. A moonlit waterway funnels the listener through colorful galaxies and rippling futurisms. After swirling about in the sacred honey that is India Sky’s vocal timbre, and backed by a distinctively ‘80s ballroom vibe, you finally arrive at “Bottom of the Sea” to remember how to breathe (beneath the deep). The artist can only offer a hand at the waterfront; it’s up to you to decide whether you will not only meet her there, but allow yourself to surrender to the place you call home. Out now on Ratskin Records.
— Elise Mills
ONE FOR THE PSYCHONAUTS
Heavy metal headbangers and sailors of the mind, gather round for Thieves and Liars, the new riffalicious album by Oakland five-piece Blackwülf. Released by San Ramon’s very own Ripple Music, this is the band’s fourth full-length in their 10-year history, and it shows through their meticulous rhythm and tone. The album’s peak may arrive on “Psychonaut / Edge of Light,” a nearly nine-minute sojourn that begins with a rapid romping electric gallop before transitioning through entrancing prayer for guitar and voice and then arriving in a pillowy, acoustic moment of serenity.
For even more excellent psychedelic, stoner, doom, and heavy rock from around the world, check out the rest of the catalog from Ripple Music.
— Ronny Kerr
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[punk] Rip Room, Gumby's Junk, The Snares, Feefawfum — Feb 10 at Peacock Lounge
[club] Qemist, Varsha, Rental VHS B2B Trevern, Blossom — Feb 10 at Underground SF
[latin] Discos Resaca, Mariposas del Alma, Combo Tezeta — Feb 10 at the Chapel
[latin] Lil MC, Squinkla, LOUDA, Luna Advertencia Lirika — Feb 11 at Amado’s
[club] Danilo Plessow aka MCDE, DJ Minx, Boy Harsher — Feb 11 at Public Works
[hip hop] Aroma, Louie Elser, Pallaví aka Fijiana, Gem — Feb 12 at El Rio
[punk] Pardoner, Toner, Hook-Ups — Feb 13 at Bottom of the Hill
[punk] Slutbomb, Choke, George Crustanza, Love Spiral — Feb 15 at Stay Gold Deli
[experimental] Tilt, Briana Marela, Jordan Glenn, Ben Goldberg — Feb 16 at Adobe Books
[indie] Rex, Chime School, The Reds, Pinks & Purples — Feb 16 at Rickshaw Stop
Want even more? Join our Patreon to get access to the full Bay Area concert calendar, featuring specially curated recommendations for upcoming Bay Area shows.