Rock and Roll Circus
San Francisco’s music scene is very independently minded. We don’t have the major labels, mainstream mags, and other industry machines that are found in L.A. and New York. Instead, we have a number of industrious music fans turning their nerdom for bands into awesome events. Take Noise Pop, for example. What started as founder Kevin Arnold’s excuse for booking the indie rock bands he likes has turned into an influential organization bringing music all over the city, in the form of underground dinners, band documentaries, pop-up shops and, of course, big concert benders like the February Noise Pop Festival and the October Treasure Island Music Festival (which they coproduce with Another Planet Entertainment).
On the eve of Noise Pop’s twentieth anniversary festival Feb. 21–26, I asked its staffers to send me their favorite memories from the past two decades. And this being a rock ’n’ roll endeavor, I wanted only the hilarious bits, which are listed below.
“Our talent buyer Dan Strachota will send out a list every few days during Noise Pop programming season of the bands he has confirmed. In 2009 the list read something like this:
We Were Promised Jetpacks
Now, as up on new music as I like to be, it’s sometimes impossible to keep up on all of the new bands that come out each month. So when Dan would send this list, all I kept thinking was, ‘Why does he keep telling me that, “We are promised Jetpacks”? Why isn’t the agent confirming for sure, and if it’s not confirmed, only promised, why are they on the confirmed list?’ Needless to say, I finally figured out that We Were Promised Jetpacks was actually the full name of the band – duh.” Stacy Horne, Producer, Noise Pop
“Daniel Johnston was the headliner at Cafe Du Nord one year. He only wanted to play a half an hour set, but his tour manager said that if I asked him very nicely he might be willing to play a little longer. He also advised me that Daniel responded best to people he didn’t know when they approached him quietly and calmly. I walked up to him in the corner of the crowded little room off of the stage (where Azure Ray and a shitload of other people were hanging out). In my most tranquil tone I said, ‘Hey Daniel, I’m Hari from Noise Pop.’ He turned to me and yelled, ‘I am not going to talk to you right now.’ The room went silent. Stunned, I turned and walked away feeling embarrassed for bothering him. Needless to say, we had a half hour headliner that night.” Hari Berrier, Noise Pop staff 2001–2005
“My ultimate Noise Pop moment would have to be after the Big Star show at the Fillmore a few years ago. Somehow we all wound up in [R.E.M. bassist] Mike Mills' limo, and I had the bright idea to have the after party at my apartment, above my neighbor who had just recently started working early mornings, the poor dear. After getting beer in the limo – I don't remember where – we got to my apartment to find a line had formed. And by 3 a.m. I had to kick everyone out when the neighbor threatened to call the cops. Imagine having to kick out Neko Case, John Doe, Mills, Jon and Ken from Posies and Big Star, the Fastbacks, [writer] Ann Powers, most of Noise Pop's staff, and a bunch of other amazing people. As John left, he accidentally broke our food processor, and my wife, Rosemary Pepper, also a Noise Pop alum, said, ‘He was in X. He can break anything he wants.’” Nick Tangborn, curated Noise Pop Film Festival 2005
“Noise Pop in 1999 was pretty epic. I was waiting for some friends at a bar before the Guided By Voices show at Bimbo’s, when a guy walked in and asked if I would buy him a beer. The bartender told the guy to get lost. I looked at him and I said, ‘It’s OK. I'll buy him a beer.’ The man thanked me and asked who I was going to see, and I said Guided By Voices. He looked at me and said, ‘That’s the stupidest name ever. What’s their deal?’ I proceeded to tell him the history of GBV, how there were really two versions of the band (the Tobin Sprout era and the newer version), and how some ‘purists’ weren't fans of their newer work, but to me they could do no wrong. We talked for a bit longer and then I asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was a part-time teacher but now he likened himself a scientist. He took a last swig of his beer, patted me on the back, and said, ‘Enjoy your rock and roll, son.’ It wasn't until he left that some guy came up to me and said, ‘Dude, what were you and Pollard talking about?’ I looked at him and my jaw just dropped. Yup. I had been talking to [Guided By Voices front man] Robert Pollard the whole time and had no fucking idea. Still one of my favorite Noise Pop, not to mention GBV shows, ever.” Parker T. Gibbs, longtime friend of Noise Pop
DAN DEACON HOSPITALITY RIDER
• One (1) pair new socks (any color and any design)
• One (1) pair new underwear (any color and any design)
On Mon, Feb 14, 2011, at 8:05 PM, dan deacon wrote:
hello!i'm just emailing to make sure everything on the rider is good to go. sometimes people don't get socks and underwear and thats a huge fucking bummer for me. i try to travel as light as possible and i'm really counting on those socks and undies. if i'm emailing the wrong people i'm sorry.
My coworker and I traveled across town on the very serious Dan Deacon business and low and behold discovered a specialty socks and underwear store on 24th St. We found just the pair of socks that resembled Dan Deacon himself, in a devil-gladiator-kind-of-way. He was very happy so I was very happy as well.” Julie Zielinski, Associate Producer, Noise Pop