Now in its 22nd year as San Francisco's roving celebration of independent music and culture, the 2014 edition of the annual Noise Pop Festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday, March 2, with a closing night show at the NEWBLK in the Mission. With nearly two dozen venues and even more shows, films, and events to attend, it's a lot. And how. To make it easier, here's a helpful crash course:
First of all, even if you're not planning a whirlwind tour of San Francisco music venues this week, you should do yourself a favor and stop by the aforementioned Noise Pop HQ for a slew of free events, happy hours, and film screenings this week. To wit: Friday's Funcheap Happy Hour features a skeeball tournament, and noted electropop producer Jimmy Tamborello (he of The Postal Service and Dntel) plays Saturday night after a DJ set from Ladytron.
Wednesday gives you a couple of options to check out local indie rock: The Papercuts (who will finally issue a follow up to 2011's excellent Fading Parade this year) will play The Chapel with new labelmates Vetiver, the Donkeys, and EDJ. Meanwhile, across the Mission, San Francisco's own the Fresh & Onlys will take the stage at Brick & Mortar Music Hall with Cool Ghouls, Sandy's, and Luke Sweeney. If you're interests veer more towards the electronic, there are still tickets to Matthew Dear's new project Audion Live: Subverticul at the Regency Ballroom.
For cheap rockabilly types, Thursday's happy hour at Bender's features Dude York, A Million Billion Dying Suns, and more in that tiny, ramshackle venue. For a different sort of party atmosphere, self-aware party-poppers the Limousines headline DNA Lounge on a bill that includes the Hundred Days and Taxes. Attendees who still remember the early days of the festival will head to see Bob Mould (of Husker Du) doing a special set highlighting 25 years since his solo album Workbook with Zach Rogue (of Rogue Wave) and Jon Ginoli supporting.
Friday brings another packed evening, but my picks are dream-pop outfit Real Estate at the Independent, L.A. art punks No Age at Bottom of the Hill, and local all-girl garage pop band the She's opening for (appropriately enough) the Soft White Sixties at the Chapel. Honorable alternatives can be found in Majical Cloudz at 1015 Folsom, Bleached at Rickshaw Stop or Sonny & the Sunsets at the Hemlock. (Bonus: a "Women Who Rock" photography show at San Franpsycho on Divisadero.)
On Saturday, you'll need a badge to catch Real Estate's sold-out second night at the Independent, but for those who miss No Age on Friday — they're doing a second night at Brick & Mortar. Noted folk pop outfit Dr. Dog gets the big billing at the Warfield, and there are still tickets to see personal favorite Mikal Cronin play the Chapel on Valencia. For an even more intimate concert, Mark Kozelek, whose excellent album Benji was just released to critical acclaim under his Sun Kil Moon moniker, will be doing one of those "an evening with..." events that promises to cover a range of the singer-songwriter's expansive oeuvre.
Sunday, at last, is a time to decompress with a drink and the Sunday Market back at the Noise Pop HQ. Stick around after for the closing night party with Machinedrum or bail for the Rogue Wave with Trails and Ways at the Chapel.
There are still Super Fan Badges available for $350 if you care to drop some coin and plan to cram a lot into your week, but a better bet at this point is to look for individual tickets.