San Franciscans are known for their discerning tastes -- especially in terms of music and food. On August 4, 2012, Noise Pop and Finger on the Pulse satiated this voracious appetite for culture, bringing indie eats and beats together at Noisette, their inaugural food and music event.
Across time and cultures, food and music have always been an integral part of social gatherings and celebrations. And as Darin Bresnitz, co-founder of Finger on the Pulse points out, events like Noisette all come down to having a good time with a good plate of food while celebrating art and creativity. Noisette was equal parts stylish potluck and intimate concert with dishes from ten local chefs and an eclectic sampling of indie music including The Dodos, Pillowfight, Craft Spells, and Taken by Trees. At the Mission District's Public Works venue, guests were invited to rock out to the music at the main stage with a Speakeasy IPA in hand, ascend to the second floor for a crowded mix of food tables and lively conversation or venture outside for a butchering demonstration and a backyard barbecue feel. Appealing to a wide variety of tastes, it's no wonder the event sold out.
Darin Bresnitz, Finger on the Pulse; photo: Adrienne Blaine
Since moving to San Francisco six years ago, Noise Pop's producer, Stacey Horne, has noticed a distinct rise in food culture, particularly in its relation to music events. In the past, mediocre food was commonplace at music festivals, but with the chance to sample foods from restaurants like Monk's Kettle, The Abbot's Cellar, Commonwealth, Flour + Water, Bar Crudo, and Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, among many others, Noisette organizers went above and beyond to provide attendees with a gourmet experience. Today, the concert-going demographic is changing as more urban youths become aware of food culture and make it a bigger part of their lives.
Noisette at Public Works; photo: Adrienne Blaine
To find out more about this trend, I talked to 21-year-old food blogger Elizabeth Herring, who studies visual art, with an emphasis in food and environmental studies, at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She ties the rise of food culture to increasing environmental awareness, which has forced us to think about where our food comes from. This green theme was clearly present at Noisette, with chefs who emphasized local and organic ingredients, numerous recycling stations for plates and forks and a zipcar table promoting car sharing in the city.
Photo: Mike Rosati
Photo: Adrienne Blaine
Craft Spells at Noisette; Photo: Adrienne Blaine
In recent years, books like Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Food Matters by Mark Bittman have all been notable New York Times bestsellers. Clearly food awareness is beginning to hit the mainstream, yet the same connoisseur who shuns fast food also most likely still refuses to listen to Top 40 radio. As Herring jokes -- stereotypically speaking -- most Justin Bieber fans are not farmers' market regulars (see Noise Pop's Indie-Approved Pop podcast for refutation).
With this in mind, it may not be such a stretch of the imagination to think that people who enjoy the same restaurants probably have the same taste in music. In fact, the twin brothers behind Finger on the Pulse draw this comparison every week on their food and music podcast Snacky Tunes.
However, talking about food and music is not as easy as the Bresnitz twins make it seem. I asked each chef at Noisette to describe their food as a musical genre and was surprised to find that most compared their dishes to improvisational jazz or world music rather than the indie genres I would have guessed. And when I asked The Dodos how they would describe their music in culinary terms, they were hard pressed to come up with a definitive answer. These findings lead me to believe that there is no need to force a comparison between so-called rock star chefs and gourmet guitarists, because the connection between food and music is most easily understood by the consumer.
Eating food and listening to music are sensory experiences that transcend trends and find their roots in common human experience. Noisette ushers in a new era of entertainment where no single sense is privileged over another and each taste is curated for a truly unforgettable event.