Update, Feb. 28, 2023: According to a statement from the New Parish, the Junglepussy concert on Feb. 26 ended early because of technical difficulties. Ticketholders can redeem tickets to a future concert at the venue by emailing email@example.com.
Original story, Feb. 27, 2023:
Beloved music festival Noise Pop celebrated its 30th anniversary Feb. 20–26 with headlining sets from Yo La Tengo, Boy Harsher and Duster. A wealth of performances by hip-hop artists, cumbia bands and punk outfits at venues across the Bay Area reminded show-goers that nothing can replace witnessing musical excellence live on stage. The KQED Arts & Culture team hopped around the concerts for a week, and were left with a renewed appreciation for the craft and creativity that abounds in our local live music scene. Here’s what we saw.
A Queer Mosh Pit for COMMANDO
Tuesday night at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill, COMMANDO emerged on stage like a dazzling rock ’n’ roll chimera. The supergroup brought together seven completely different veteran musicians, and their exuberant performance celebrated queerness in all its forms.
Juba Kalamka (formerly of the 2000s hip-hop crew Deep Dickollective) opened the show with “Meatswinga (Morello Muh Mello),” his low voice revving like an engine as the band members thrust their hips towards the audience. As nu-metal guitar by Principal Dammit and Van Jackson-Weaver and Andy Meyerson’s powerful rhythm section set the energy in the room ablaze, Honey Mahogany delivered operatic high notes, and Drew Arriola-Sands detonated screamo growls. Lynnee Breedlove (of revered early-’90s queercore band Tribe8) commanded the mic with a punk swagger, and surprised the audience with a tender spoken-word homage to Prince’s genderfluid self-expression.
COMMANDO sets out to be the queer role models the band members never had growing up, and at Bottom of the Hill that vision came to life. Trans and gender non-conforming teens with Xs on their hands, too young to drink, moshed in the front to lyrics about punching Nazis. And after witnessing seven diverse, skilled musicians owning their personal power on stage, everyone else set off into the night carrying a little piece of COMMANDO’s boldness with them. — Nastia Voynovskaya
ovrkast., Michael Sneed and demahjiae Transmit Love Through Soulful Raps
On Wednesday evening, Oakland artists ovrkast., demahjiae and Michael Sneed electrified Brick and Mortar Music Hall’s small San Francisco stage, connecting heart-to-heart with an eager crowd of hip-hop lovers. As ovrkast. performed his 2020 single “Try Again,” the audience scooted closer while he rapped about feelings of inadequacy and picking himself back up. His voice sounded raw, capturing a desperation that resonated with the crowd as voices chanted along to the hook: “You can’t win, you ain’t shit / Try again, try again / Do it all over, try again.”
Each artist brought a different energy: as Sneed performed his 2019 track “Reinvent,” he mirrored a crescendo of instrumentation — yelling out as he neared the edge of the stage, playing with flow and encouraging the crowd to get loud. demahjiae slowed the pace, sauntering as he rapped songs off of his 2020 project And, Such is Life.