Photos by Nicole L. Browner
Noise Pop 2013 kicked off with an easy going show at Brick & Mortar on Tuesday night. Although I only caught their last three songs, SF locals Michael Statis brought a catchy rock ‘n roll energy to start the show, banging through their set with enthusiasm.
Will Sprott, formerly of the Mumlers, has a soft but engaging stage presence, and fully embraced the opportunity for his soul/folk infused music to capture the entire audience’s attention, despite its low volume. Sprott was emotive and light-hearted at the same time, smiling on stage and laughing along with his backup band.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Jenny-O didn’t fare as well — the acoustic-only set (her backing band was unable to make the trip up the I-5) bled together too much with the noise of the crowd, and the similarity of the songs (loud, fast strumming with a few chord changes) made the set mostly unremarkable, although I can easily imagine her turning a few heads with a full band offering low-end backup for her strong singing skills.
By 10:40pm, Jason Lytle (formerly of the beloved, and now retired, indie rockers Grandaddy) took the stage. Appearing as only a two-piece band with another guitarist, Lytle’s set was like watching Grandaddy perform on sedatives. He even played a bunch of his former group’s classics (“Now It’s On”, “I’m on Standby”, “El Caminos in the West”), but without their signature guitar distortion and simple drumbeats, the songs become too light and meandering. And with long breaks between songs, repeating keyboard & punk music interludes, and a low energy set, you could feel the eyelids sagging throughout the venue.
But we were comfortable, letting Lytle work through his solo material with gentle strums and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. During his performance of “Young Saints,” from his 2012 LP Dept. of Disappearance, in which he sings, “your ex-girlfriend’s lost pets and dead friends / know they won’t be hanging out with you again / you are gone,” someone in the crowd actually collapsed onto the floor, inducing a panicked reaction from the back of the venue. As it had been throughout the set, it was impossible to tell if he’d gone down from drinking too much, or perhaps from just being really, really sleepy.