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The Big Takeover Issue #93
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My Alternative to Noise Pop 2006

3 April 2006

This year, San Francisco’s Noise Pop festival was pushed back to the last week of March (and first few days of April). I don’t know what the rationale was for this move, but unfortunately it coincided with the most monsoon-like March weather the Bay Area has known in years. In a break from my busy schedule, I had a free night on Thursday, March 30th, and was considering checking out at least one of the shows. I wanted to see my friend and San Francisco-resident MARK EITZEL, who was playing at The Independent, but since Mark wasn’t the headliner, I thought that I could catch his set and then still have time to head over to Bimbo’s and check out another local band, ROGUE WAVE.

As I was contemplating this plan of action, I received a phone call from JAMES FENWICK HOLMES, who plays guitar and trumpet in my band as well as in San Jose’s THE MUMBLERS. James had been planning to see THE DIRTY PROJECTORS play at Noise Pop, but since he had just seen them play at The Ivy Room, he decided he was going to stay in, and invited me over to hang out, rap, and jam with him and his roommates ERIC CARLSON, who plays in Oakland-based THE FITS and with LEYNA NOEL, and REID DAVIS, who plays with THE DEAD HENSONS, a Muppets cover band that has been getting a lot of attention in this city that so loves groups with a gimmick. Not that that’s all they are; they’re pretty funky in that Schoolhouse Rock kind of way. After a short while, GEOFFREY DYER, who plays with the country-band SWEETBRIAR and is currently living out of his car, appeared, and next thing I knew, the night had turned into one of those jam-sessions that goes on until four in the morning.

In addition to jamming, these young musicians put on albums, mostly by older or dead musicians, and, as we listened to the music, got into passionate arguments about who our favorites were. At one point, for instance, Eric wanted to put a JOE COCKER album. Now, I am someone who is just so over Cocker (as well as his unwitting imitators such as EDDIE VEDDER), so I suggested LEON RUSSELL instead. Luckily, Eric had the early ASYLUM CHOIR albums, one of which features the amazing song “Straight Brother.”

This may not seem like much of an alternative to Noise Pop to you, but for me, it was exactly what the doctor ordered, [DR. JOHN, perhaps? -ed.] especially as I’m in the middle of a rather grueling rehearsing and recording schedule, a situation in which there’s always a danger of losing an appreciation of the fun aspects of making music.

I do not mean this as a slight in any way to the organizers of Noise Pop 2006. I enjoyed playing Noise Pop 2002 as a member of HUDSON BELL, when we had the pleasure of opening for (SMOG), and I would have applied to play it this year were it not for the fact that I was recovering from my injury when the deadline came up, and wasn’t so sure about the future of my band at the time.

But sometimes, you just need to be reminded of what made you want to be a musician in the first place, and, frankly, Noise Pop isn’t really that different from an average week of music in San Francisco, with its mixture of local bands and national acts. Sure, there are more “happy hours” with allegedly more opportunities to schmooze, but you have to be in the right mood for that, and, as we all know, moods are not known for appearing on schedule. There will always be shows to go out to; this time, I chose to the show that brought me back in.