Words by: Jake Butler
Photos by: Nicole L. Browner

My first show in San Francisco was an all ages show at Bottom of the Hill. Coming back for this afternoon show to close out my own personal Noise Pop experience brought things full circle in a sense. Making the trek from the East Bay was a bit daunting at first, as even with all my magical powers, I couldn’t keep God’s tears at bay (translation: it was dumping rain).

My hesitation almost ruined the day for me, as I barely made it as the last badgeholder to be let in. Whew! The house was packed with everybody having to turn sideways to try and navigate through the crowd.

This was definitely a family affair, with 6 and 7-year-olds sitting atop the edge of the bar. It’s always awesome to see a young kid bobbing their head up and down, rocking out to some good music. There is still hope for future generations.

Belgian boys White Circle Crime Club were the first act I made it in time for. I hadn’t heard anything of them before, so I was very intrigued to hear my first European group at Noise Pop.

It took them a bit to get their synth up and running during setup. I would later find out from Jelle De Cremer that their analog organs were too heavy to ship, and they had just picked this one up from a metalhead in the city the day prior.

As they kicked into their set I couldn’t help but think of Mars Volta’s De-Louse in the Comatorium – the way the synths were stripped down focusing more on rhythm and timbre than tone. The drumming was just monstrous. Heavy, fast, aggressive, intricate – it was all of these things. Jelle told me that they’ve had to ask to him to restrain himself a bit, because he’s been known to lose his lunch after rocking so hard.

They had a moody flavor to their sound, but it wasn’t the black side of emotions. It was more of a grey, wherein words like melancholy and bittersweet lie. White Circle Crime Club put on a great set as I found myself dancing throughout, stopping only to take down a note occasionally.

Then it was time for No Age. I caught Bob Mould running through the crowd, a foreshadowing event if there ever were one.

No Age, with just two members, lay down some pure kick ass punk rock, but then you’ll catch them drifting into sonic experimentation at points. This is dangerous ground, but No Age handles it perfectly. At one point it sounded like they were jumping around with some Middle Eastern rhythms with palm muted strumming, and then effortlessly flowed into some static soundscape background noise, and then resolving into a California pop groove.

No Age was the exclamation point at the end of the sentence that was Noise Pop 2009 for me. I all but forgot about the rain whilst I was losing myself in some great music.

Favorite Moment: Seeing Bob Mould two days in a row, this time taking the stage with No Age. Hells yeah.