Kids on a Crime Spree - SF Popfest 2012 - photo by Jackie Andrews
Video by Claude Cardenas

SF Popfest returned for a fourth year and packed 13 bands and 10 DJs into two venues for a memorable Memorial Day Weekend. Below, check out a ton of videos, photos and highlights from one of our favorite annual events.

I arrived late to the first night at The Hemlock and was bummed that I missed the opener, Sacramento’s Desario, which features drummer Jim Rivas of Rocketship and Holiday Flyer. I was even more bummed that I missed them after watching this video:

LA’s Black Elephant represented the darker side of the pop spectrum and put on a really great show. Their songs have this slight Plastic Bertrand “Ca Plane Pour Moi” feel to them that beg for a dance floor, and if my pint wasn’t as full, I’d have cut a rug. According to

Seattle’s BOAT channeled Pavement and rightly so love The Clean. Here they are playing an original number followed by a cover of “Tally Ho!”:

A highlight of the evening was Seapony’s cover of one of my favorite songs of all time, “Emma’s House” by The Field Mice. Skip to the three minute mark if you’re anxious, then rewind to the beginning since this Seattle band’s song “So Low” is also pretty great:

Day two at the Knockout was a long one with five bands separated with DJ sets by the Shine On people. Cruel Summer got the ball rolling with their shoegaze-y jangles and played a couple of new songs. Here’s “Skinwalker”:

Dead Angle is the latest and less syrupy incarnation of members of The Tartans, and who recently put out a split 7-inch with Terry Malts on Loglady. Their spazzy chainsaw pop cut some of the sugar from the festival quite nicely:

I love Oakland-based Manatee. Although Slumberland tries to create this air of mystery around them, I think it’s pretty common knowledge to Bay Area pop music lovers that the guitarist is “Papa Slumber” himself and ex-Black Tambourine Mike Schulman. The band is super fun and makes really great pop music, even though their shows can be a hot mess — was anyone at the Vitus last December when they got shut down? That was awesome.

Stockton’s Surf Club had sound problems which made the vocals unfortunately muddy and completely unlike how they are supposed to, so I’ve decided to share their February 2012 Young Love EP instead (no mention of any upcoming SF dates yet, but hopefully that will change.):

Kids on a Crime Spree also had sound issues, but it somehow worked. Throughout the set, Mario Hernandez’ bass would go in and out and then blurt loud, random crunches, but this noisy pop music lover kinda liked it — and who could really tell under all that fuzz anyway? It would have been nice to hear guitarist Bill Evans’ back-up vocals had his mic worked, but overall it was a really good show:

The third evening of Popfest returned to The Hemlock. Outerhope travelled all the way from the Philippines and opened the evening with their sweeping and atmospheric Enya-esque (not a dis — that first album rules) melodies. Live it is less so, but pretty nonetheless. Here is a sweet guitar and piano ballad from the duo/siblings:

Allen Clapp and Jill Pries from The Orange Peels — which formed out of Allen Clapp’s then fictional Allen Clapp and his Orchestra back in the 90s — have recently made Allen Clapp and his Orchestra a reality, playing old and new material. The band sites St. Christopher as an influence, which sums up their sound pretty well:

SF locals The Bilinda Butchers, who take their name from Bilinda Butcher from My Bloody Valentine and who people love to label chillwave, call their sound nostalgia pop. Their first full-length is due out this month and this is from is from the new record:

Wrapping up Popfest was San Diego’s TV Girl, who make lo-fi sample heavy pop music, but sound very different live without all of the electronic treatments:

SF Popfest – Day 1:

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