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Mixtape: SF Popfest 2011 (Episode #249)

By now, you’ve hopefully had a chance to sample some of the many exciting bands partaking in this year’s San Francisco Popfest, which runs from this Wednesday to Sunday. These day-by-day previews highlight some of the many reasons why we’re excited to support this fest.

Wednesday

Acclaimed Australian shoegaze band The Black Ryder co-headlines Wednesday’s Rickshaw Stop show (8pm, $12) with SF’s Blackbird Blackbird, who has been working on new songs that continue to experiment in new sonic directions. As with all of the Popfest shows, get there early: on Wednesday, Mikey from Blackbird Blackbird’s jangly, Brit-influenced band Wolf Feet opens the show.

Blackbird Blackbird – “Euphoria”

Thursday

Dominant Legs‘ only release so far is 2010’s Young at Love and Life, but every visit to that four-song EP gets me psyched for the band’s upcoming full length. At Cafe Du Nord on Thursday (8pm, $12), the SF band’s smart avant-pop will be paired with Sarah Records band Aberdeen, reuniting after 10 years apart. The SoCal twee-pop group was, notably, the only California band to release any music on Sarah before it folded. The Motifs and Sweater Girls open the show.

Aberdeen – Sunny in California by sfpopfest

Friday

Visa troubles have prevented Allo Darlin’ from being at the Rickshaw Stop (8pm, $15) on Friday night, but I don’t want the disappointment to obscure what remains an amazing show. “Teenage Kicks” gets most of the attention, but The Undertones‘ catalog is far deeper; the group’s self-titled debut features an abundance of nervy foot-stompers, and the band eventually went on to explore psychier terrain before the end of their first run. Playing a slate of “35th Anniversary” shows earlier this year, the reunited quintet’s recent output has returned to that classic punk-pop sound. Local jangle-pop heroes The Mantles and Burlington’s The Smittens support.

The Mantles – Raspberry Thighs

Saturday

Over 20 years and 140 releases in, Slumberland Records continues to be a vital champion of new and emerging indie pop, with a number of local bands among the label’s highlights. Many of those groups gather on Saturday at the Rickshaw Stop (5pm, $15), for a smorgasbord of indie music. Brilliant Colors have a new album in the works, and Terry Malts‘ recent 7″ is a noisy pop gem. If the show’s undercard highlights Slumberland’s younger bands, it’s fitting that the night is capped by reunited C86 band 14 Iced Bears, playing their first SF show 25 years after their first release, and Phil Wilson, who first found success with The June Brides but has, more recently, been crafting his own solo power pop.

14 Iced Bears – Miles Away (Peel Session) by sfpopfest

Brilliant Colors – “Never Mine”

Sunday: Daytime

One doesn’t normally need an excuse to hang out in Dolores Park, but a free indie pop concert on Sunday (2pm) definitely doesn’t hurt. Let’s Whisper is a Burlington, Vermont bedroom-pop duo whose first full length came out earlier this year, and the park show is their only Popfest appearance. They’ll be joined by The Motifs, Mark Monnone and several more.

The Motifs РJour De F̻te by sfpopfest

Sunday: Evening

It seems highly unlikely that Eternal Summers, The Beets, Catwalk and Seapony won’t have the Hemlock Tavern‘s back room packed on Sunday night. Eternal Summers have the hooks to rise to the top of the crowded beach-pop arena, but I’m equally curious to see their tourmates The Beets. Between bandleader Juan Wauters’s earnest yelp, and the group’s eccentric jangle-pop and cartoonish art, a Daniel Johnstony vibe abounds. This is a very good thing.

The Beets – Time Brought Age by Addict Music