The Fresh & Only's @ Brick and Mortar Music Hall - 2/26/14 - photo by Jon Ching (Noise Pop 2014)
Photos by Jon Ching

As the storm gripped the city, San Francisco’s Brick and Mortar served as a kind of musical haven to escape the pounding rain outside. For Noise Pop’s second evening of the week, the lineup featured a strong array of indie folk and psych rock; performances would include Luke Sweeney, Sandy’s, Cool Ghouls, and the Fresh & Onlys.

The first to take the stage was the Bay Area’s Luke Sweeney, whose 2013 Ether/Or is best known for its inspiration to Sweeney’s musical spirit animal: Elliot Smith. However, despite these past comparisons between Sweeney and Smith, the evening’s performance from Sweeney & Co. entered territories that felt more fleshed out and put together than any kind of bedroom folk. With a full band to back up Sweeney, the group weaved in and out of songs that were solid, to say the very least.

Second to take the stage was local act Sandy’s, whose performance was by far the most surprisingly pleasant of the night. Having never heard of the band before tonight, the music of Sandy’s left quite the impression on your reviewer.

In between songs the vocalist announced that the group was going to play new songs, but that all these songs were probably new to the crowd. There were a few chuckles, and it was true – however, despite the crowd most likely being drawn in by the name of Noise Pop and the well-curated lineups, it was obvious that whether or not you were a long time Sandy’s fan, the audience enjoyed the musical dreamscape they agreed to take us on.

The set was full of breezy, California pop – the music of Sandy’s is best suited for when you’re taking a long road trip down to dreamy landscapes such as Big Sur. Also notable is their cover of “Wipeout” which they performed towards the end of their set, which as far as covers go is always an excellent choice.

Third to go on was San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls whose Americana, garage rock-inspired music has taken a hold of the San Francisco music scene. Quickly moving to become one of our most celebrated local acts, the band’s performance was, as always, impressive.

Having witnessed Cool Ghouls in the past, they occasionally include a wind section that features horns and a saxophone. Unfortunately, tonight did not include that section and admittedly it felt as if something was missing.

Finally, San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys took the stage; immediately a fog machine kicked up and the group entered into all time favorites such as “Waterfall” and “Until the End of Time” from their 2010 release Play It Strange.

Having returned to San Francisco after spending the past year in Arizona, it was satisfying to see the full Fresh & Onlys line-up back together again. It was the most quintessential and suiting way to bring an end to the night as one of San Francisco’s most beloved bands reunited for a local performance.