The 2011 Noise Pop Festival begins today, taking over a number of SF venues over the next six days for a celebration of the best in independent music. This year’s festival is the nineteenth annual, the sort of number that stands as a remarkable sustained achievement. By now, Noise Pop is a Bay Area indie rock institution, something expected every February, but the festival’s organizers are continuing to push its boundaries too.

Speaking to the continually evolving notion of the Noise Pop sound, Producer Stacy Horne remarked via phone that, “We want to keep it fresh and have exciting new stuff that’s going on,” citing NP 2011 artists like The Stone Foxesand Tamaryn. Both are local to SF and headlining shows this week, and both might be considered outside of the more traditionally indie pop-rock sound associated with the festival’s origins.

Beyond the bounds of rock and roll, too, Noise Pop is also expanding toward other genres and into new types of experiences. “I really like the direction that we’re heading, in presenting outside of our usual comfort zone,” Horne said, noting the increased inclusion of hip hop and electronica acts, including Kid Koala and Aesop Rock. Moreover, the festival has embarked on two significant new endeavors this year. The Pop Up Shop series allowed Noise Pop to work with a number of partners to collaborate “in a really physical way that we hadn’t done in the past.” Additionally, the Noise Pop Culture Club, taking place 2/26 and 2/27 at Public Works, is an “exploration of art and film and their relation to music [that allows attendees] to interact with and do hands-on workshops in all different creative disciplines.”

But for all of the “new” in this year’s Noise Pop, the festival’s core remains its concert series, mixing local bands and out of town acts into some unique performance opportunities. Talent Buyer Dan Strachota described the local music community’s impact on Noise Pop as “huge…One of my favorite things about the festival is finding those great opening bands. People will come out for the headliner, but if they come early, they’ll see something that they haven’t seen before or just discover some great new local band.”

Strachota agreed that, while Noise Pop may have at one point had a singular sound, the festival has expanded to include a wide variety of acts encompassing the broader idea of “good indie music.” To that end, he noted, the “perfect pop songs” of a band like Telekinesis, paired with Versus, The Love Language, and Burnt Ones, offer “a very traditional Noise Pop” outing that should be a “fantastic show.” At the same time, Strachota also highlighted Saturday’s Peanut Butter Wolf/DâM-FunK 45s-only show. “I think that should be just fascinating and one of those one-of-a kind shows that people may talk about for years to come.”

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