What’s the best music venue in San Francisco? Ask this question in a crowd of concert junkies, and everyone will have a different answer. Then mention Swedish American Hall to them, and you’ll probably hear something like “Oh that place was so great!” And it was, it is, and will continue to be, as the fine folks at Noise Pop have taken over events curation there, and will be bringing their taste to what was always the most tasteful place for music in the entire city. This is like a euphoria of tastefulness. And last night’s kickoff event with Ben Gibbard and Zach Rogue was just the beginning.
What’s always been significant about the Swedish American Hall was the lack of volume. Full bands aren’t allowed to play there at full volume, so we’re always treated to the quieter side of things. Ben Gibbard, performing with a broken wrist, was accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar (played my Mark Kozelek!) only. When Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females performed as Noun on Saturday during the Lance Bangs film screening event, it was just she and her guitar. This is the venue where you’ll say your favorite music stripped fown to its essentials. It’s mostly seated, has perfect acoustics, and now even comes with a well stocked bar.
Unfortunately, you’ll find that most events there — Thao, Jim Adkins, Grouper, and James Vincent McMorrow — are sold out. Don’t give up, though. Many Noise Pop events will have tickets at the door as space is always held for badge holders. Showing up at the door early with a finger in the air is a tried and true trick. If you’re not desperate to see these acts, though, I’m happy to suggest my favorite non-sold-out option for every remaining night of this week’s festival.
Tuesday, February 24
I cannot promise a Reggie Watts appearance. In fact, there is no rumor of one at all. Really, none. Don’t ask me on Wednesday where Reggie Watts was for this show, because he’s not going to be there.
Wednesday, February 25
Stoner rock played by yeti. Not at all high concept!
Thursday, February 26
The video I’ll post below is 20% of the running time of Tony Molina’s Dissed and Dismissed, an album that I put on my personal list of the best albums of 2014, even though it comes in at an all-too-brief 11 minutes. Also get there in time to see Cold Beat, who sound like Belinda Carlisle fronting some people who used to be in a Factory Records cover band. (Honestly, with the state of the music industry, they probably still are.)
Friday, February 27
Pretty exciting when the last schedule update of the entire festival includes your current favorite local band, isn’t it? I always want to give this band fashion advice (don’t dress like Mumford & Sons so you can avoid the comparisons!), but I would never give them musical advice. They’re perfect.
Smoke Season provides main support, and I’ve just had an excellent few minutes of Googling to discover an excellent band with way too few mentions.
Saturday, February 28
Arguably the headline act of the entire festival (their name is at the top of the poster), The New Pornographers just put out the best album of their career, played a joyous set at Treasure Island Music Festival last October, and now return for the victory lap, albeit without any mention of Neko Case joining them. So long as Dan Bejar is there to sing “War on the East Coast,” all will be good. Make sure also to see How to Dress Well record an episode of the Song Exploder podcast Saturday afternoon, back at the Swedish American Hall I talked about so much. It’s free with RSVP.
Sunday, March 1
Beyond explanation. This has the potential to a very, very special evening.
Thanks to Paige Parsons for the photo from Swedish American Hall