Popfest kicks off tonight at the Rickshaw Stop, with a headlining performance from Merrill Garbus’s tUnE-yArDs. Garbus’ album BiRd-BrAiNs was one of last year’s highlights, fusing a home-recording feel to winding, smart pop. Supporting are local indie pop bands Eux Autres and Social Studies, and Knight School, an NYC duo whose second full length is out on local label Make A Mess Records.
On Friday, things move over to Bottom of the Hill for a homecoming performance from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Redwood City-born Owen Ashworth is touring with a full band, befitting the more organic sounds on last year’s Vs. Children. He’ll be playing alongside Antarctica Takes It!, which formed in Santa Cruz and recently released their second album, Constellations, following a successful Kickstarter fundraising drive. Nodzzz and English Singles also perform.
Saturday afternoon, The Orange Peels top a Popfest show at the Hotel Utah. The Sunnyvale band’s fourth album, 2020, came out late last year. Peels leader Allen Clapp also produced the latest album by show opener The Corner Laughers. Brooklyn’s Dream Diary and Sweden’s Leaving Mornington Crescent round out the show.
Later that night at the Rickshaw Stop, All Girl Summer Fun Band play a rare Bay Area show. Of late, the Portland trio’s members have been more involved in graphic design and apparel than music (save Kathy Foster, also of The Thermals), but the band’s sure to deliver their name-brand fun rock. They’re ably paired with one of the Bay Area’s most ridiculously entertaining live bands, Still Flyin’. Will the Rickshaw stage be able to contain however many band members SF brings to the show? Will you be able to resist dancing to their super-enthusiastic pop? The answers to both are probably no. Cars Can Be Blue, The Art Museums and BOAT also play Saturday night.
Thankfully, this rain should end well before Sunday, where there will be an afternoon show at Dolores Park. That’s good news for Math and Physics Club, a jangly pop band from Seattle who is release its first album in three years next Tuesday. Sibling folk-pop duo Watercolor Paintings craft sweet songs from harp and ukulele sounds. teamAWESOME!, The Hairs, Normandie Wilson, and Girl Band will also be performing.
Popfest concludes with a diverse bill of out-of-towners at the Rickshaw Stop, hailing from distant places like Finland, Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Cats on Fire are the Finnish act, whose new record, Dealing in Antiques, collects rare songs, alternate takes, and a cover of “Your Woman” done in the band’s inimitable jangle pop style. My Teenage Stride, The Tyde, Math and Physics Club, and Devon Williams help close out the festival that night.