Noise Pop Branches Into Jazz and Hip-Hop with 2016's Initial Lineup

Vince Staples.

The early lineup for the 2016 Noise Pop Festival is here, and it includes two noticeable deviations from the festival's tried-and-true indie-rock modus operandi: Long Beach rapper Vince Staples and Los Angeles jazzman Kamasi Washington.

For a festival named literally for a specific genre, and whose previous hip-hop bookings were limited to local acts like Lyrics Born or the Coup -- or decidedly experimental artists like Why?, Cex and Kid Koala -- booking Staples represents a welcome move. Likewise for Washington, considering that aside from some avant-garde jazz groups at the short-lived Chicago version of Noise Pop, and jazz drummer Steve Reid appearing with electronic artist Four Tet, the festival hasn't presented jazz.

Kamasi Washington.
Kamasi Washington.

Granted, both Staples and Washington receive coverage on indie-rock sites like Pitchfork, which points to the "genre doesn't exist anymore" nature of music these days. When I asked Noise Pop's Dawson Ludwig about the lineup, he echoed that idea.

"I'm not sure how it happened, maybe the iPod or the internet," Ludwig said, "but it's no longer cool to be devoted to a specific genre; it's cool to like all genres, to be a musical omnivore. This is a dream come true for music nerds like us -- it means we can book a wide range of musical acts and have some confidence that it'll be appreciated and sell well."

The early lineup also includes Astronauts, Etc., Beacon, Cayucas, Escort, Film School, Heartwatch, Natasha Kmeto, the Mountain Goats, Palehound, Parquet Courts, the Cave Singers, the Thermals and Wild Ones. "Early Bird" badges for the festival are on sale Friday, Nov. 20, at 11am for $145, and more artists will be announced in the coming weeks.

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