Noise Pop 2011 — My Notes and Ramblings

by Gordon Elgart on March 1, 2011

Kid Koala capped off my Friday evening, and I wasn't drunk. He really was wearing a koala suit. (Kid Koala action photos by David Price.)

What you might be thinking is, “why does he get to write all of his Noise Pop comments in one post when everyone else did full reviews of each night they went?” From an excuse standpoint, I’ll just say that I’ve been so busy editing posts, resizing & captioning photos, and redesigning the website, I decided to give myself a little slack. (Editor’s privilege?) But really, this all started because of Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, two things happened. One, I went to the Dan Deacon show at Rickshaw Stop. Two, I read Perry’s review of Dan Deacon at the Independent on the previous night. I sent the following email:

The post is up. Great job! Seriously, makes anything I could write about last night feel pointless.

Now, we didn’t agree on Ed Schrader, even though we had similar notes. (Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop) He loved him; I did not. Regardless, I invite you to read his post to get an idea of why you shouldn’t ever miss a Dan Deacon show.

He started the show without his shirt on. Only one person gets to do that, and his name is Iggy Pop. All others should wait a few songs.

Also on Wednesday’s bill were Sister Crayon, a really promising Sacramento band that is about 80% of the way to being great. I hate saying that bands should find an image that matches their music, but Sister Crayon needs to find an image that matches their music.

Wednesday’s opener was Lily Taylor, who does the always impressive live-looping of her keyboards and vocals to create her pretty songs. What’s tough about performing as a live looper is that although it has a high degree of difficulty, it only works to impress when you make it obvious that this is the case. So the performance was missing that extra oomph it needed to spark the night.

The sweet looped sounds of Lily Taylor

Then there was Friday night, when I had a badge, a jonesing for some Kid Koala at 12:30, and no idea what to do before then. I put out a request on Twitter and Facebook, and got back “Birds & Batteries.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them, so I wasn’t too excited, but a friend I hadn’t seen in a while was going to see The Concretes, and I like Rickshaw enough. I also got an invite for karaoke at The Mint, but during Noise Pop? No thanks.

So there I was at Rickshaw seeing Psychic Friend open the show with what would be great songs in another setting. The speakers were turned up way too loud at this point, and the keyboard was distorted beyond belief. Sugary pop should be played at reasonable volumes to be enjoyed; this was a bit much. The songs were good, and when the lead singer stopped playing keyboard and started dancing, the energy in the room increased palpably.

This Psychic Friend plays his admittedly good songs a bit too loudly.

Next up were Magic Bullets, and talk about bands I’ve seen a lot! So I went to the Mint to visit my friends, and maybe sing a song, but the place was so darned crowded, we ended up drinking sake in the attached sushi bar before I headed back to catch Birds & Batteries. And when I arrived, I saw what could likely be their best set ever. The crowd was noisy and dancing, and the band sounded great!  Great job!

While nervously looking at my watch, I waited for The Concretes to start. Having never been to Mighty, I was worried about parking and lines and getting inside for Kid Koala’s set. So after 4 songs of The Concretes (a band I always confuse with The Brunettes — don’t ask why), I was off to Mighty.

Parking was too easy and there was no line to speak of, so I got inside in time to be offered Fernet shots by the Fernet girls (although I was going to be PAYING for these shots) and turning them down because I hate the stuff. Effective sponsorship, though, what with me mentioning them here. I got my usual dancing drink, vodka tonic (with lemon not lime), and got busy.

DJ Swayzee finished up his set and then Kid Koala walked out, koala suit and all, threw the Macbooks off the stage, and started spinning three turntables at once, with actual records. A camera placed above head showed all his little tape marks on the records, and some people in the back were clearly here to watch the television because they just stared straight ahead, looking at KK’s technique. I stuck to dancing.

Reach up! Reach high!

And for the first half hour, the energy was great. It all led up to an amazing song from Yo Gabba Gabba! that got the whole crowd (well, the dancing part of the crowd) to reach their hands way up in the air over and over again. Awesome! It was kinda like this …

And then, just as quickly, the balloon popped as he started playing slower material, and jamming with Jem, and doing some dubsteppy stuff. It was a dance music buzzkill for me, and after his tribute to his mom (he plays her favorite song), it was time to go.

On Saturday, a much quieter, differently dressed Kid Koala played "Music to Draw To." And he did.

Saturday, I checked out the Noise Pop Culture Club at Public Works. This was an event full of talks, performances and workshops, lasting the whole weekend. You could get lost in the rooms, listening to Kid Koala play while you drew pictures using the supplied artists’ tools. You could, but I can’t draw worth a damn, so instead I snapped a couple of pictures, listened to some talks about rock posters and books, heard John Wesley Harding sing, and took off, only to be greeted by one of my favorite strangers in the world, the Ice Cream Man. And with a free ice cream sandwich, my personal Noise Pop adventure was over.

And I’m going to end my brief comments on Noise Pop by repeating something said elsewhere on the site. See Dan Deacon.

Dan Deacon bathed in light, and the close up warmth of his happy fans.



Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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