Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 - photo by Debra Zeller
Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 - photo by Debra Zeller

Friday night's Noise Pop Festival offered a chance to see a clash of styles within a couple blocks of each other, both in terms of the music played and the venues. First, I caught The Bay Bridged's Noise Pop Happy Hour at Bender's featuring Golden Void, Wild Moth, and DSTVV, and then hitched over to another Noise Pop performance from Damien Jurado down the street at The Chapel.

Since the event was organized by The Bay Bridged, it doesn't feel right to gush and gush about the show at Bender's, so I'll keep my recap brief. DSTVV kicked things off by playing so loud their bass amp fell off its speakers, followed by Golden Void's guitarist rocking so hard his whammy bar fell off. It was an extra-special treat to see the ridiculous guitar solos from Golden Void's Isaiah Mitchell up close. The bar was packed, LOUD, and filled with cheap happy hour drinks - definitely a great setting for rock.

After some post-show socializing and a bite to eat along the way, a quick walk down 19th Street from Bender's to The Chapel on Valencia took me to a venue that was about as far from a dive as possible to see performances about as soft and easy going as it gets. The vaulted ceiling and what must be an incredibly expensive sound system was about perfect for the mostly acoustic performances. The only performer that wasn't entirely solo was opener Emily Jane White, who had a guest on stage splitting duties between synth and drums. It added a little something extra to the melancholy songs I was able to hear, and I really regretted not catching more of her set. White was followed by Peggy Honeywell, who was only accompanied by her acoustic guitar and didn't seem to capture the interest of the crowd that was continuing to trickle in. Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart had a rather large production for just one person, taking advantage of The Chapel's high-end video system with an accompanying video mix of various nature scenes, Espinoza himself, and even a rodeo at one point. It was interesting, but it seemed as if most of the crowd was simply waiting for Mr. Jurado.

Jurado finally came on stage with just a stool, a mic, and an acoustic guitar. I was initially disappointed that Jurado wouldn't be performing with a full band, as he really had some beautiful arrangements on his most recent album, Maraqopa. It didn't take long for me to forget about the band, though, as Jurado is a solo-acoustic wizard. I'm not familiar with his entire catalog, but he had me (along with the entire sold-out room) hanging on every note he played or sang. There was plenty shushing when he started playing, and shaking drinks at the bar garnered the occasional dirty look from folks in the crowd. Jurado's face crinkles and strains as he sings, but his delivery seems effortless. From time to time, he'd go into falsetto for some guitar accompaniment, and it almost sounded like a flute.

Jurado's entire set was outstanding, but a personal highlight for me was his bare-bones, heartbreaking version of "Working Titles" from Maraqopa, where you could hear a pin drop for his almost whispered question of "What's it like for you in Washington?" It's difficult to put your finger on what makes a performer like Jurado so enjoyable to watch – he won't blow you away with his guitar picking or voice, yet he manages to connect with 200-plus people with just a voice and a guitar. Perhaps to take me as far from the start of my night as possible, Jurado closed the evening without amplification for his encore performance of "Cloudy Shoes". It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful night of Noise Pop.

Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 - photo by Debra Zeller
Noise Pop 2013: Damien Jurado @ The Chapel 3/1/13 - photo by Debra Zeller

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