Noise Pop has rolled out the first phase of its musical lineup for the weeklong 2018 Noise Pop Festival early this year, an offering that makes up for the cancellation and impending relocation of its Treasure Island Music Festival — which usually takes place in mid-October.
The Noise Pop Festival, which kicks off its 26th iteration on Feb. 19, announced its headliners. Its top billing acts, including the likes of Oakland’s Tune-Yards and San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, are among the brightest luminaries for the Bay Area’s independent music scene.
Other noteworthy Bay Area-based performers listed on the festival marquee include Jay Som, Geographer, WHY? and Magik*Magik Orchestra, the latter of which is pairing up with the like-minded chamber-pop group San Fermin for a rare collaborative show.
Noise Pop has dabbled in hip-hop, jazz, R&B and metal in recent years; the likes of Vince Staples, BADBADNOTGOOD, clipping. and Kelis blessed the festival's silver anniversary last year. But for its 2018 edition, they seem to be harkening not just to their Bay Area roots, but to their status as the Bay's pre-eminent gatekeepers of indie music.
It was an intentional move, says Noise Pop general manager Dawson Ludwig.
"The Noise Pop aesthetic is rooted in the early '90s college rock sound and bands like Superchunk will always be a staple," Ludwig said. "But as indie has expanded to mean anything and everything that has an ineffable aesthetic, we’ve booked more acts that are both indicative of the diversity of the current community and some stalwart indie acts that are true to the classic Noise Pop lineup, which started off with Husker Du and Jawbreaker."
That said, they've only announced two dozen acts out of the full lineup thus far; the rest is yet to be released. Ludwig expects the next three phases, which will be rolled out through January of next year, to feature acts across genre lines.
Noise Pop's initial announcement boasts heavy-hitting indie acts such as Rostam, Girlpool, Superchunk and Japanese Breakfast (whose second Noise Pop Fest show in as many years comes at the heels of her stellar Soft Sounds from Another Planet), alongside more unexpected fare like eclectic Chicano performer Cuco and post-hardcore outfit Enter Shikari.
But of this year’s out-of-towners, the Brooklyn-based outfit Real Estate might be the act that elicits the most media attention. Real Estate fired founding guitarist Matt Mondanile prior to the release of its 2016 album In Mind after allegations of "his unacceptable treatment of women" came to their attention, the band confirmed in a statement to Pitchfork.
"We decided that it was handled in a way on the band’s part that was separate from Matt," says Ludwig. Real Estate's Noise Pop gig at the Fox Theater on Feb. 24, the penultimate day of the festival, will go on.
Historically, tickets for the festival's individual concerts at venues of various sizes throughout San Francisco and the East Bay, are sold concurrently with all-access passes to the larger festival. Ninety percent of shows, in effect, sell out before the festival begins.
This year, however, there is an emphasis on framing Noise Pop Festival as a full festival experience.
"If you look at it through the wrong lens, it can feel just like a set of shows," Ludwig said. "But we want to make it a more refined experience for badgeholders. We want to make it feel like an all-out takeover of the city; the festival experience is the number one priority this year."
Noise Pop is introducing an inventory system, which grants attendees the ability to hop around shows more effectively. Concertgoers can check their likelihood of getting into any given show on the Noise Pop app, and place themselves on a wait list.
Another change is that this year, badges for the upcoming Noise Pop Fest will grant access to the festival’s entire slate of film screenings. In previous years, badgeholders were required to purchase individual passes separately.
Early-bird badges to the festival are already sold out. Badges during this first phase will cost $175. With Phase 2, badge prices will rise again to an unspecified cost.
For what it’s worth, general admission badges for this year’s 25th annual Noise Pop Fest, which was their most-attended iteration to date, cost $175. These badges, Noise Pop notes in a statement, sold out. A limited number of premium “super fan badges,” which cost $399, are still available.