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Noise Pop 2008

It’s Poppin’

In just a few days Noise Pop will takeover many of San Francisco’s venues for six days of music, along with art exhibits, film screenings and even a comedy show. The annual festival, which celebrates its 16th anniversary this year, started as a concert at SF’s now defunct Kennel Club in 1993 before expanding to include multiple days, other arts and performances from upcoming bands (The White Stripes, Feist, Modest Mouse) that later went on to have widespread mainstream success.

Highlights this year include:

The Walkmen, 2.27 at The Independent: This New York band is hyphy (it says so right on their myspace page), which automatically makes them down with the Yay Area, right? But it’s not hyphy in the bass-slapping Mistah F.A.B. sense that you are used to. Think of Dick Dale playing guitar after a pint of syzurp with some jangly piano and horn jabs here and there. Although the lyrics are still pretty gangsta: “Break out the bottles when I go; I’ll dig a hole for all your friends.”

Pop’Art, various days and venues: Noise Pop’s first venture into the art world was a success last year so organizers decided to give it a little more thump this year with expanded offerings. The festival includes an exhibit of photographs of indie-icon Elliott Smith by Autumn de Wilde, who was friends with Smith and took photos of him for several years before his death in 2003. The showing includes rare photos, along with limited-edition prints for sale, according to organizers. The festival also includes a group show with art by Yoko Ono, Wesley Wills and punk-rock Polaroid photographer Jim Jocoy.

Chicago Movie Night(s), 2.29 and 3.1 at ATA: Chi-Town is getting some love this year with two films that document Windy City icons. Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides, chronicles the Chicagoan who was signed to SF-based Alternative Tentacles before his death in 2003. Willis rose to underground-superstar status with sparse Casio-fueled tunes with often-obscure lyrics and public displays of affection with his fans that came in the form of headbutts. Alternative Tentacles founder and Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra and director Chris Bagley will participate in a Q&A session after each screening. You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984 features live footage of Chicago punk pioneers Naked Raygun, Effigies, Strike Under, Articles of Faith and several other groups. The film follows several other punk-rock documentaries in recent years with at least one colorful line from a pundit who described a local club’s demise: “It had kind of a strange ending to the club because they found this guy dead in the club with a mike stand stuck up his ass.”

The Virgins, 3.1 at Mezzanine: Channeling funky, Rock-the-Casbah basslines and dirty falsetto hooks, The Virgins are your surest bet for a sweaty dance party this year.

She & Him, 3.2 at Great American Music Hall: Here’s the back story as told by Merge Records, which releases the group’s debut LP Volume 1 this month: She (Zooey Deschanel) met Him (M. Ward) when the two paired up to record a Linda Thompson song for a movie soundtrack. He liked Her style; She sent Him some demos that She recorded at home; She & Him decided to put out a record that features nods to the old-school analog recordings Dusty Springfield, Linda Ronstadt and The Zombies. Sound interesting? Good luck finding a ticket. The March 2nd show sold out well in advance.

Noise Pop runs February 26th - March 2nd.
For more information, visit http://noisepop.com/2008