Primarily a showcase for hot indie bands, San Francisco's Noise Pop Festival did offer several first-rate electronic shows during its weeklong event March 27-April 2. Four acts per night meant abbreviated sets yet enough time to absorb the wide-ranging musical styles.
On Thursday, March 30 in the gilded Great American Music Hall, the dancefloor came alive as Kid606, equipped with a Mac, Ableton Live and Kaoss Pad — and joined by a drummer and guitarist — hit the ground running with a heavily techno/punk onslaught. Four Tet's Kieran Hebden and legendary jazz drummer Steve Reid then wove a series of otherworldly soundscapes in an entirely improvised performance aided by a Boss SP-303 Dr. Sample. The versatile drummer and innovative producer seemed a natural fit, communicating intimately even as they barely looked at one another, so immersed were they in their musical creations.
J.Boogie's Dubtronic Science
At a sold-out show at The Independent on Saturday, April 1, J.Boogie's Dubtronic Science warmed up the crowd with a luscious Brazilian- and Ecuadorian-flavored set that fused J.Boogie's turntables with sultry vocals, sax, flute, congas and percussion. DJ Mike Relm proceeded to enthrall the audience with his clever, synchronized audio/video blend, mixing The White Stripes, Public Enemy, Björk and Led Zeppelin with eye-catching video. Kid Koala then took the stage, video projections enabling a bird's-eye view of his turntable virtuosity (on a Technics SL-1200, Vestax QFO and Rane Empath). Prior to his set, the self-described “most low-tech kid on Ninja Tune” reflected on the meshing of indie and electronica worlds: “Some cats have a guitar and write lyrics and tell their stories like that. We have our records and record players and audio mixers, and we tell our stories like this. But at the root, it's the same thing, whatever you're into.”