Most people I know look at the Noise Pop schedule and decide what to hit based on the list of names they recognize. But the festival, which kicks off this Tuesday, Feb. 25, usually stacks the deck with some cool under the radar events along with the big names. So I asked my buddy Dawson Ludwig, Noise Pop's Marketing Director, to point us toward his picks for lesser known shows and parties going down during the week-long music bender. Here are his suggestions (he slipped in a couple bigger shows in here too, along with little known facts about them):


Matthew Dear has always been one of my favorites and I love the energy of the stuff he releases under the Audion name. The fact that his new Subverticul live show features an A/V spectacle by Vita Motus (the team behind Amon Tobin’s legendary ISAM tour) seals the deal. This one has something for all your senses.

Brothers Hypnotic 

Our film curators brought their a-game to the Noise Pop Film Series, focusing on movies where music is a key component, but ultimately selecting films for their storytelling and craft. Brothers Hypnotic is a really masterful doc that follows the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble; eight brothers from Chicago’s south side whose version of “the family band” is unlike any other. 

Digital Mystikz 

This is one of two shows at 1015 Folsom that we’re really excited about (the other being Scene Unseen). To bring dubstep pioneers Mala and Coki to SF is absolutely thrilling. Having another favorite in Chicago juke pioneer DJ Rashad adds to the excitement as well.

Cold Cave 

One of our big goals with Noise Pop is pairing a big name act with the perfect local openers, like Cold Cave's show at Slim’s with a bunch of really cool SF bands – Painted Palms, Dirty Ghosts, and Happy Fangs, who have been office favorites for a long time now. The chance to shine a spotlight on a bunch of great local bands is also one of the main driving forces behind Noise Pop.

Stones Throw 

We have a huge amount of respect for the Stones Throw label and this show is a celebration of them and everything they’ve done. We’re doing a couple screenings of their documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, and after the first screening at our HQ at The NWBLK, Peanut Butter Wolf, J. Rocc, Jonwayne and Knxwledge are all going to perform. It should be pretty special.

Mother Falcon 

Mother Falcon is a large, fun-loving flock of hyper-gifted musicians and a great band for a venue like The Chapel. And openers Foxtail Brigade and Kan Wakan should bring an electricity to the building that absolutely explodes as the night goes on. This could easily be the most memorable show of the whole festival.

Shabazz Palaces 

It’s hard not to be hyperbolic when talking about the genius of Shabazz Palaces’ Palaceer Lazaro. The guy was a main force behind Digable Planets, one of the most creative hip hop groups of the '90s, and his work now, two decades later with Shabazz Palaces, is mind-blowing. They played Treasure Island Music Festival a couple years ago and it was wonderful. 

Different Fur Happy Hour 

Our happy hours at Benders should be the perfect place to transition from whatever stresses your day held into a night of rad music. Different Fur Studios has a really great lineup planned for Thursday at Benders, with Dude York, A Million Billion Dying Suns, and A-1 with Rawdad all playing. Come by and have a drink with us.

No Age 

These guys are Noise Pop royalty, so it was a no-brainer to bring them back for a couple shows this year, including one at Brick and Mortar with some bands that could easily be future Noise Pop headliners themselves. London’s Cheatahs have fully won us over, and GRMLN and Straight Crimes are both exceptional.

Scene Unseen 

Our sister website, Do415, is deeply embedded in the local scene. They keep tabs on great local promoters, parties, and DJs, and this is their free blowout party that showcases the best of the best. They topped it off with some of our favorite national headliners as well. Majical Cloudz is one of my absolute favorites – Mr. Carmack is in a league of his own as a producer, and Kelela is one of the most exciting voices in R&B.