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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 91 - 03/06/04

Noise Pop 2004
24.-29.02.2004, San Francisco, CA, USA

Okay, so I'm growing my hair out. I've been shaving my head for about 5 years now, so this is a pretty big deal for me. Started not buzzing it every week in December, and wearing a hat a lot since then. So some of you might not have noticed. I'm looking to get back to the shag I once had. Think that I look best in that cut, though I'm a little biased cuz, well, I'm me aren't I?

This week the bands and films of Noise Pop 2004 had me wishing I had started with the growing out in September so that I could've been shaking my bangs to the beats of the bands. As it was, I just disturbed my cowlick enough to give me a decidedly old school Joan Jett kinda thingy.

Of course none of this has anything to do with all of the great music I heard over the course of San Francisco's week long indie showcase, but then neither did the Music Law Summit that I attended at Hastings School of Law really.

Peer2Peer and file-sharing have shown us something pretty interesting methinks: namely, that the only reason the labels have been here all along was (Was) to get the artists' music out to the people, since they really couldn't do it on their own to a large extent. Well, now we've got something (you're in the warehouse right now actually) that can do it easier and cheaper for the artist and the listener. The crux is to find out how to get the bands fairly compensated for their music they produce.

Then the labels can go away and music can approach the purity of spirit and creativity that it once embodied without the vultures telling them what's for dinner tonight. That rainy day they just seemed to be acting all deprived and hungry.

That said, I had a grand old time. The thing with Noise Pop and, indeed all festivals to a certain extent, is that I feel like I'm always missing something or, at least, having to make a difficult choice over two (or more) simultaneous events.

This year was no exception. In one night, British Sea Power, Super Furry Animals, Papa M, Neko Case, Stills, Stradford 4, and countless others were all playing in no less than 8 venues. Well, this year I was gonna do it. Do the impossible - go to all of them and see how many of my favorite songs I got to hear and how I was gonna tear my way away from a great show to see a bit of another.

On my bike, traversing crazy hills and traffic, I tackled this city like I was the FCC and the venues were 12 year old kids downloading Sean Paul songs. Gotcha.

This is what it looked like:
6:00 British Sea Power (Amoeba Records)
7:00 Two Gallants (Cafe Du Nord)
8:00 The Red Thread (Bimbo's 365 Club)
8:30 Bonfire Madigan (Bimbo's 365 Club)
9:30 On The Speakers (The Independent)
10:30 Stradford 4 (The Independent)
11:00 Super Furry Animals (Fillmore)
12:30 Stills (The Independent)

Whew.

I had planned on catching the last of British Sea Power at Bottom Of The Hill to close out my evening. After all, the boys only did an acoustic set at the record store and it paled in comparison to the live stuff I heard on the BBC - which rocked. I mean, I like the record. But only one of those songs that day seemed seaworthy. And it took an old wooden recorder to do that.

And yet, The Super Furries wouldn't let me go. I walked in The Fillmore just as "Rings Around The World" was starting and I couldn't. Could not. Tear myself away. What can I say? They make me grin and weave. And bob and giggle. So I stayed. And when I finally realized that it was time to get back on my Azuki 10-speed and head home, they were just launching into "The Man Don't Give A Fuck".

But I had to be at the bakery at 5:00 AM. In the A - M as my grandma used to say. Still, The Independent was on the way home, so I stopped. The door guy shook his head and laughed, knowing full well what I was up to. The Stills had just gone on and it only took a few minutes before they flew into "Lola Stars and Stripes", the only song of theirs I'm really crazy about. But I'm really crazy about it.

So, that was it. I did it. Of course there were loads of other great shows I saw that week: Coco Rosie, Low, Jolie Holland, Unicorns (great hair!), Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, Joanna Newsome, The Herms at the if-you've-got-a-badge-you-can-come-in-party, Quails (great hair!), Paradise Island and many more that I missed: Pedro The Lion, Trachtenburg Family Slide Show, The Minders, American Music Club, Preston School of Industry. I know. I know. Don't even say it. But heck - ya still gotta make some choices.

Luckily, my neighbor Danielle had me housesitting her animals that week too. And her hot tub. Under the stars out near the garden. So I stopped for a soak and then sunk into bed. Sated. And thoroughly rocked.

My hair's gonna look great. It might take a coupla months. But I'll get there. And I think, like that guy from Two Gallants, I'm gonna let my shag do a little bit of that Liza Minnelli false-sideburn thing. Just a bit.

Even after all these years, cultivating a new look is my favorite way to re-invent myself. As if I ever could.

When I start looking up at you through my bangs - you'll know I'm almost there.

Copyright © 2004 Alice Kenner e-mail address

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