San Francisco’s yearly Noise Pop Music Festival always seems to feature a billionty bands. The more familiar acts include some of your favorite acts like R&B icon Raphael Saadiq, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Benjamin Gibbard, breezy garage duo Best Coast and post-rockers Duster. But the majority of the lineup—luckily—is filled with acts that will be new to most people.
So what’s the casual concertgoer to do?
Never fear! RIFF is here with a rundown of some of the acts we’re most looking forward to seeing this year. These 11 acts have been especially kind to our ears over the past few years.
Washed Out (6 p.m. DJ set) at California Academy Of Sciences — Feb. 20. $14-$58.
Ernest Green may be best known for writing the song that was used as the opening to “Portlandia,” but the quality of his repertoire goes far beyond “Feel It All Around.” Even though his Noise Pop show will be just a DJ set, Washed Out can certainly be counted on to deliver oodles of kaleidoscopic chillwave.
Bas at 1015 Folsom — Feb. 27 — with Falcons. $15-$25.
Sudanese-American rapper Bas is great at constructing soulful hip-hop collections, and has even been collaborating with heavy hitters like J. Cole lately. His show would certainly include a night filled with technical prowess, inspired wordplay and plenty of good vibes.
Bag Raiders at The Independent — Feb. 28 — with Nasaya. $23-$25.
OK, so you’ve heard the song “Shooting Stars”—that’s a pretty good one. But have you heard the zippy piano in “Castles in the Air?” What about those nu-disco harmonies on “Sunlight?” Those bubbly synths on “Medicine?” The cathartic build-up of “Lightning?” No? Well, you should probably make it to this Bag Raiders show.
Lower Dens at Rickshaw Stop — Feb. 28 — with Ami Dang. $20-$22.
Lower Dens can be hard to pin down, as their existence is both shadowy and nebulous, but the sounds they create can often transcend. Sure, at first they might sound like just another glossy synth-pop band, but after hearing enough of their songs unfurl, one may realize they have an extra depth of darkness to them that can be worth discovering.
Jennylee and TT at Bottom Of The Hill — Feb. 25 — with Kills Birds and Sour Windows. $20-$22.
While the psychedelic dream-pop band Warpaint is between albums, two of the four band members will be still be at Noise Pope. Bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg released a solo album in 2015, and she’s now touring with guitarist Theresa Wayman (TT). While we may be unsure of exactly what they’re bringing to the Bay, odds are good that the experience they conjure up will be exquisite.
Imperial Teen and Torres at The Chapel — Feb. 29 — with Seablite. $18-$20.
Don’t be fooled by the name; Imperial Teen is a band with the chops of a band composed of adults. Their brand of indie rock incorporates multiple genres, but it doesn’t matter if they’re playing garage rock, synth-pop or even sounding like a marching band; their show is bound to stay interesting.
Torres has been out here making intriguing art pop for a few minutes now, but her new album, Silver Tongue, was just released and it’s her best one yet. It’s thoughtful, heartfelt and detailed, and it’s unlikely her show will be anything different.
Best Coast and Mannequin Pussy at The Regency Ballroom — Feb. 29. $25-$30.
Bethany Cosentino battled much self-doubt and writer’s block in the years since releasing 2015’s California Nights, but the fans’ wait has been worth it as Best Coast is set to release Always Tomorrow on Friday. Our review, which runs Tuesday, is glowing. And Bay Area fans will be among the first to hear new songs like “Everything Has Changed,” “For The First Time” and “True.”
Mannequin Pussy has been coming up lately off the strength of its new album, Patience. Frontwoman Marisa Dabice leads her indie rock outfit with earnest and powerful vocals that lend themselves to a show with plenty of style and energy. Additionally, the way she alternates between quiet, intimate moments and loud and raucous ones will likely lead to an increase in serotonin across all spectrums.
Injury Reserve at The New Parish — Feb. 24 — with Tony Velour and Haviah Mighty. $20-$24.
Looking for some high energy experimental hip-hop? Injury Reserve has your number. The trio has been generating a lot of buzz with the unconventional techniques it’s weaponized on its first, self-titled album. If you’re not afraid of hearing something out of left field, Injury Reserve’s show will likely be one of the most explosive experiences of the festival.