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Wizard Apprentice performs at Noise Pop 2019 with Baths on Feb. 27 at Great American Music Hall.  Wizard Apprentice
Wizard Apprentice performs at Noise Pop 2019 with Baths on Feb. 27 at Great American Music Hall.  (Wizard Apprentice)

10 Bay Area Artists Not to Miss at Noise Pop 2019

10 Bay Area Artists Not to Miss at Noise Pop 2019

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Noise Pop has been around since 1993, when the festival debuted as a $5 indie rock show at the Kennel Club (now the Independent). These days, the week-long, homegrown music showcase features dozens of artists working in a variety of genres, including rap, pop and electronic, and takes place at various venues on both sides of the Bay.

The festival kicks off on Feb. 25 and goes through March 3, with multiple shows happening each night. Beyond well-known acts like Beirut, Princess Nokia, Bob Mould and Yuna, we’ve rounded up 10 stellar Bay Area artists not to miss this year.


Performing with Miserable, Same Girls and Super Unison.
Feb. 26, Bottom of the Hill. Details here

Pllush emerged from the same fertile indie rock scene that produced standout Bay Area bands like Jay Som and Pardoner. Their 2018 album, Stranger to the Pain (Father/Daughter Records), moves seamlessly from punchy garage-pop jam “Ortega” to gauzy shoegaze track “Big Train” and downcast post-punk meditation “Restart.” With lyrics about love and heartbreak, delicate harmonies that hit during maximal emotional catharsis and gritty instrumentation worthy of a mosh pit, Pllush’s unpolished, earnest approach has rendered them a band to watch this year.



Wizard Apprentice

Performing with Baths, Briana Marela and There’s Talk.
Feb. 27, Great American Music Hall. Details here

You know all the embarrassing feelings of jealousy, insecurity and self-doubt that usually stay between you and your diary or therapist? Wizard Apprentice brings them into the light where listeners can acknowledge them, observe them and then finally let them go. The artist’s 2018 album, I Am Invisible (Ratskin Records), is a collection of bedroom electronic tracks that are compositionally sparse, yet incredibly rich in their storytelling. Wizard Apprentice’s tracks drop all pretenses and cut straight to the heart of heavy emotional processing.


Rose Droll

Performing with Caroline Rose and Superet.
Feb. 28, The Independent. Details here

Versatile multi-instrumentalist Rose Droll can do a lot with a little, as evinced by her 2018 album Your Dog (Father/Daughter Records). She mostly composed it in her room on acoustic guitar (and later added piano, glockenspiel and cello in the studio), and cobbled together a unique style of beat-driven folk instrumentation and throaty singing that often lapses into spoken word. Your Dog made KQED Arts’ Best Bay Area Albums of 2018 list on the strength of its inventive approach.



Performing with Uffie, MPHD and Starfari.
March 1, The Independent. Details here

Oakland pop duo vverewolf sound like they were raised on a diet of sugary cereal and Kesha, and they proudly rep their love for bubblegum pop in their work. The sparkling, synth-heavy tracks on their latest EP, Ugh!, feel like injections of Unicorn Frappuccino straight into the blood stream. Still, there’s an emotional poignancy beneath the saccharine surface, especially on “The Other Side,” a frank, confessional track about depression and substance abuse.


Tia Nomore and Queens D.Light

Performing with Princess Nokia.
March 2, UC Theatre. Details here

Tia NoMore and Queens D.Light are two of the most dynamic voices in the Bay Area rap scene, and they couldn’t be more different. Queens’ dreamy meditations on sex and spirituality are what you want to bump when you’re lighting incense and painting or reading in your room (the perfect vibe for Pisces season, which is now upon us). Tia Nomore, on the other hand, delivers fiery tomboy raps in English and sometimes Japanese, and her penchant for beats with heavy slap recall the likes of Bay Area staples like Mac Dre and Mac Mall.


Lara Sarkissian

Performing with Yves Tumor and Watkins/Peacock.
March 2, The Chapel. Details here

Lara Sarkissian is one half of Club Chai, the forward-thinking Oakland party and label that carved out a lane for experimental club music that caters to people who are queer, trans, immigrant, of color—or just appreciate beats that defy genres and borders. On her latest EP, Disruption, Sarkissian draws from Armenian mythology, transporting it thousands of years into the future through heavily percussive tracks abuzz with textured synths.



Performing with Ben Morrison of the Brothers Comatose, Andrew St. James and Television Spies.
March 2, Bottom of the Hill. Details here

Who but Trebuchet’s Elliott Whitehurst could write a fluttering, ethereal folk album about calling off his wedding the night before it was supposed to happen? Throughout Trebuchet’s Volte-Face (which made our Best Bay Area Albums of 2017 list), Whitehurst meditates on a love that he “watched over-ripen” and ultimately chooses to walk away instead of living to please someone else. The resulting record makes poetry from a convoluted situation, with harmonies and string arrangements galore. (However, I’m still waiting for his ex’s version of Lemonade.)



Performing with Crumb, Video Age and Idhaz & Rose Cherami.
March 2, Starline Social Club. Details here

Oakland hip-hop duo FR333’s live shows might start with some ritualistic sage burning and end in a twerk-off, but the core of the performance is always about getting in touch with one’s inner confidence. Raw, vulnerable and sexy, FR333’s work empowers and inspires by looking inward and excavating the emotional depths of spiritual growth and sexuality. Vocalist MADlines (who recently wrote a KQED Arts essay about self-love and leaving a toxic relationship) captivates with evocative metaphors and raspy inflections, while producer and multi-instrumentalist XOA’s intricate beatmaking creates a luxurious, velvety backdrop.


The Total Bettys

Performing with Partner, Dude York and Blushh.
March 3, Cafe du Nord. Details here

Breaking up in the queer world means you’ll probably still run into your ex on the patio at El Rio, and that they might remain friends with half of your friends. The Total Bettys have the balm for this particular type of heartache, which they hit on the nose with their tightly composed pop punk album This is Paradise. With charged-up guitar riffs, a sturdy rhythm section and Maggie Grabmeier’s crestfallen vocals, the Total Bettys feel your angst and channel it on 11.

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