The Bay Area’s sprawling music and arts festival Noise Pop returns this year with alternative programming that explores the space’s culture. Taking place Feb. 19-25, the festival will include a free photo retrospective, an all-night ambient sleep concert, special film screenings, visual albums, and after hours parties.
“The Noise Pop music festival, our bread and butter has always been the music portion of the festival. However, the banner of the festival is actually a celebration of the independent culture,” General Manager at Noise Pop Industries Dawson Ludwig told Amplify. “A big part of what we’ve always done is we book what is essentially alternative programming. Our goal is to celebrate independent culture as a whole and that extends to film and art and sometimes podcasts.”
Over six days, Noise Pop takes over various venues in San Francisco and the Bay Area to stage over 90 concerts and shows. This year’s performers include Tune-Yards, Built to Spill, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ty Dolla $ign, and Real Estate, to name a few. In addition, Noise Pop is putting a continued effort into alternative programming that will be featured throughout the week.
“This year we are very excited about several alternative programming elements,” said Ludwig. “The crown jewel is we’re doing a sleep concert with Robert Rich which is this very strange experience. It starts at midnight and the intention is for people to fall asleep in a room and to have ambient music wash over them for eight hours.”
The overnight gig on Feb. 23 fits about 140 people in the Gray Area theater as the “godfather of sleep concerts” Robert Rich in collaboration with Flow Kana plays ambient music. Attendees are encouraged to bring yoga mats, sleeping bags, and pillows to make themselves comfortable until morning.
“In actuality, it is not a great night sleep,” Ludwig explained. “The idea is to have the music invade people’s peripheral space and that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to great sleeping conditions. But it does create an incredibly unique experience.” Ludwig added, “It’s right on the money in terms of what the Bay Area likes.”
Even though Rich is from the Bay Area, this will be his first sleep concert for local audiences since the 1980s.
“William Tyler of the Silver Jews is scoring a lost Orson Welles film that he got his hands on. It will be something really special and that is at the Alamo Drafthouse which is an amazing movie theater here in the Bay Area,” Ludwig said.
The 66-min cut of the film was unseen until it was rediscovered in 2013 in Italy.
Director Danny Perez will screen a visual album by Animal Collective on Feb. 22 and close the evening with a Q&A. In 2010, Animal Collective and Perez teamed up for the film Oddsac, a 53-min visual album of psychedelic imagery meant to capture the music. Several members of the band appear as major characters in the film. Oddsac features fire spinners, melting vampires, and even a food fight.
Throughout the week, people can visit Bar Royale for a photo retrospective of Noise Pop which features an impressive catalog of rock photography.
“We do over 80 shows every year and we’ve been doing this festival for 26 years, so we’ve got an enormous database of rock photography,” Ludwig said. “It ranges from the first Fleet Foxes show in the Bay Area, the fifth headlining show with Bright Eyes. It is an amazing collection of images from Noise Pop festival over the years.”
In collaboration with brand new art space, Haight Street Art Center, Noise Pop will also host the opening night of The Rock Art of Emek on Feb. 24. The gallery, which will remain open after the festival, is a celebration of famed concert poster artist Emek who has worked with everyone from BB King to Coachella.
“To us, poster art is a very important art form. It is an art form that is probably under appreciated and it deserves its time in the sun,” Ludwig said. “Emek is one of the most prolific and celebrated poster artists of all time. He’s done poster art for every band that you can imagine and we are sitting on stacks on stacks on stacks of his work.”