NOISE POP NIGHT 3 :: 03/01/07

Words & Images by: Kayceman

Trainwreck Riders :: Rickshaw Stop :: San Francisco, CA

Trainwreck Riders :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
Wednesday night of Noise Pop featured big names (Sebadoh and Ritter) from out-of-town but Thursday reminded fans why San Francisco is widely regarded as the music capitol of America. Sure, New York kills it and is clearly SF's biggest competition. Austin is great and Chicago does well, but the Bay Area has always had a lil' something special.

Walking into the intimate Rickshaw Stop you could taste the booze flowing through the room. On stage was local rock outfit Poor Bailey. With a screaming frontman that recalled Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), the band worked through some intriguing guitar heavy explorations. Yet another band to mark down and check out a bit more closely. Thanks Noise Pop!

Taking the stage a bit before 11 was SF's Trainwreck Riders. The band's debut, Lonely Road Revival, has been burning up my iPod and after the first few notes I just kept thinking how could it be that this was the first time I've caught the band live?

Trainwreck Riders :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
The powerful quartet features brothers Steve (drums) and Andrew Kerwin (lead guitar), along with Morgan Stickrod (bass), and frontman/guitarist Pete Frauenfelder. These young fellas are beautifully sloppy. Music like this is meant to bleed over the lines and skid out from time to time, but the Riders are also able to slam on the brakes and pull out tight changes and quick, painful guitar notes when needed.

It's got a Johnny-Cash-on-meth meets Drive-By Truckers vibe, both in terms of the content and the delivery. Speaking of the Truckers, it was hard not to think of Hood and Cooley during "Trainwreck Heart," a new song about falling in love with a girl in your family. While there are reference points to other bands, Trainwreck Riders are clearly onto something original.

Trainwreck Riders :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
It was during an emphatic rendition of "In The Wake Of It All" that the name Trainwreck Riders really started to make sense. Slashing around onstage, guitars flying, sweat dripping, there was carnage, metal, pain, and distortion. It sounded like, well, a train wreck, and we loved it. If there was a questionable moment in the set it was when the band's friend Evan came up to play the saw, creating a sound that could only be compared to a UFO hovering. It was cool, but didn't exactly blend with the gut-wrenching rock show.

When music is genuine - with tattered vocals, lonely harmonies, desperate cries and truly great guitar interplay - it's hard not to get caught up in the moment. Looking around the Rickshaw it was clear that Trainwreck Riders had the Noise Pop crowd under their spell. There was some friendly shoving going on up front, a dude was screaming at the top of his lungs, and beer was spilling from cups. I stood there scratching my head, and almost kicking my own ass for waiting till now to catch this local treasure. I'll be riding the Trainwreck again soon.

Words & Images by: Andy Tennille

Roky Erickson, Howlin' Rain, Oranger, Wooden Shjips
Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

Roky Erickson :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
While Noise Pop's unofficial credo has been to shed light on noteworthy bands who don't necessarily swim in the mainstream and offer fans an opportunity to see musicians perform in intimate settings, festival organizers have also done a tremendous job at raising the visibility of the San Francisco music scene and pimping its most alluring exports.

Thursday night's (3/1) festivities drove this point home as more than half the bands playing at venues throughout the city represented homegrown talent. Locals Lyrics Born and The Coup partied down at The Fillmore while across town their East Bay brethren Poor Bailey and The Morning Benders supported San Francisco's Trainwreck Riders co-headlining gig at Rickshaw Stop with Langhorne Slim. Current can't-miss Bay Area disco-rockers Scissors For Lefty tag-teamed with local faves Magic Bullets to open for French Kicks at Slim's. At Bottom of the Hill, Brooklyn blogosphere darlings Matt & Kim headlined a multi-band bill featuring San Francisco's Erase Errata and Oakland's Pants Pants Pants.

Wooden Shjips :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
Nowhere was this synergy between local talent and like-minded imports better personified than at the venerable Great American Music Hall, where psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson made his triumphant return to SF after a more than 20-year absence for a much-anticipated performance with his band, The Explosives. Joining the journey was local psych-rock outfits Wooden Shjips, Howlin' Rain and Oranger.

Despite their absence on the glowing marquee on O'Farrell Street outside the Great American, Wooden Shjips' opening set may have been one of the most highly anticipated performances of the entire festival. Where most bands grow their fanbase playing dingy clubs for beer money, Wooden Shjips have taken an entirely different approach, building demand by not playing at all. Since the band was formed a few years back, frontman and guitarist Ripley Johnson has spent considerable time tweaking the lineup and recording a vinyl-only EP before finally making their debut live performance at Café Du Nord this past January.

Howlin' Rain :: 03.01.07 :: Noise Pop
As was the case with their debut the month before, Shjips' set Thursday night was short in length but not short in mind-expanding ambition. Johnson's whirling guitar odysseys danced and snaked through thick, muddy fields of distortion and dark, menacing rhythms. Nash Whalen provided a potent melodic foil on organ. Like fellow locals Comets on Fire or English space rockers Hawkwind or Spaceman 3, Wooden Shjips' magic is created by a mix of pummeling hypnotic grooves and otherworldly guitar that sounds like Hendrix strung out in a methadone clinic.

Howlin' Rain and Oranger were up next. Where Oranger stuck to tighter pop tunes featuring harmonizing vocals and the always-welcome Theremin, Howlin' Rain's set was more fuzzed-out, Neil Young, country-fied rock than Big Star power-pop. Led by Comets on Fire guitarist/vocalist Ethan Miller, Howlin' Rain's sound is free-wheelin' '70s rock captured magnificently on their self-titled 2006 debut on Birdman Records.

Roky Erickson and the Explosives :: 03.01 :: Noise Pop
The opportunity to see Erickson revisit his groundbreaking garage-blues explorations with 13th Floor Elevators, and later with the Aliens, drew disciples from Howlin' Rain, Oranger and Wooden Shjips to the venue's cramped sidestage, anxiously hoping for a glimpse of their psychedelic hero. Erickson arrived to a sea of frenzied, thunderous applause that was met by an excited grin from the near-60-year-old counterculture icon. The band adroitly breezed through Erickson classics including "Creature With the Atom Brain," "Don't Shake Me, Lucifer," "I Walked With a Zombie," "Two-Headed Dog," "You're Gonna Miss Me," and a fantastic reading of Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me."

Though he seemed a bit distant - offering only a blank "thank you" after each song and a slightly more verbose "thank you very much" to close the night – Erickson's passion for music appeared undiminished after years of drug abuse, purported alien abductions, horrid poverty, and a variety of mental and physical health ailments. It was a joy to see and a refreshing end to an evening of mind-expanding rock in the Psychedelic City by the Bay.

Continue reading for coverage of Noise Pop night two with Sebadoh and Josh Ritter...

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