by Chloe Catajan
With 2019's Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival now in the books, we're picking up where we last left off. Here are the artists we caught during the weeklong festival's last stretch!
Mndsgn, SWARVY, Lando Chill, Stoney Creation — 28 February 2019
Los Angeles' Mndsgn played late into the night at his sold-out show at The Rickshaw Stop. Ringgo Ancheta, the creative mind behind the moniker, was joined onstage by opener SWARVY on bass and pianist Kiefer. Together the trio fused elements of hip-hop and electronic beats, creating endlessly ambient soundscapes with a mellow groove. His set included cuts like "Alluptoyou" off 2016's Body Wash.
Before ripping it on bass, SWARVY played a DJ set that had the crowd under a dancing spell. He sampled numerous cuts, such as "Work" by Rihanna, but also played some of his own collaborations, like "me vs. me"—his song with rapper Busdriver.
Chicago's Lando Chill and Oakland's Stoney Creation opened the show with thought-provoking performances. Making his San Francisco debut, Lando Chill moved the crowd with powerful verses about relevant social issues, particularly on track "The King Of Salem." Stoney Creation also captivated everyone with her smooth flow, which consisted of alternating between spoken word and soulfully pitch-perfect vocals. Everything from raucous cheers to poetic snaps were in order for both openers.
Yuna headlined the week's first show at Berkeley's UC Theatre. The Malaysian singer-songwriter, now based in Los Angeles, performed a dazzling set of favorites from across her catalog, as well as one new song. Though she mentioned that she hadn't performed in a while, joking that she thought Berkeley had forgotten about her, Yuna stayed on top of her vocal game throughout the show. On "Lullabies" off her 2012 self-titled, Yuna's voice was earthy and warm. Meanwhile, the upbeat "Falling" off 2013's Nocturnal proved that her vocals could keep up with any groove. Other songs that made the setlist included "Used To Love You," "Crush" and "Live Your Life."
Opening the show were Nicotine and ASTU. Mixing neo-soul, R&B and funk, Nicotine performed songs off her first solo release, 2019's An Open Letter. Meanwhile, ASTU took to R&B slow-burners to warm up the crowd, performing songs off 2018 release Patterns.
Check out our full feature of this show here:
Yuna hits all the right notes at Noise Pop 2019.
Princess Nokia, Tia Nomore, Queens D. Light — 2 March 2019
While most live musicians save the best (or most popular) song for last,
Princess Nokia did the opposite. The New York-based rapper began her headlining set at the UC Theatre with "Tomboy," her hit song off 2017's 1992 Deluxe that challenges the male gaze. She and two dancers burst onstage with matching lime green outfits and aerobic choreography, hyping up the crowd in a heartbeat.
But this isn't to say that things died down from there. Princess Nokia kept the show going strong with banger after banger, her unparalleled stage presence and frequent interaction with fans. During "Kitana," she jumped into the pit to crowdsurf. And on "Brujas," a song that celebrates the rapper's Puerto Rican and Yoruban ancestry, Princess Nokia took some time to welcome her audience. She let everyone know that her shows are a safe space for all marginalized groups, stressing the importance of having their voices heard. Her support for intersectional feminism was present in both her music and her banter, to which fans would cheer in solidarity.
Princess Nokia continued with "Mine," another
1992 Deluxe cut with a booming trap beat. She explained that it was inspired by the women of Harlem, her hometown, and "the beautiful things they like about their hair." She also brought up the recent controversy regarding the track and Ariana Grande's "7 Rings."
"This sounds kind of familiar, don't it?" Princess Nokia joked mid-song. "Much to my dear surprise, I heard my song on the radio one day and it was very alarming. But I've said my truth already and that's ok," she said, moving past the topic.
The set continued with the bass-heavy "Bart Simpson" and switched gears for "Look Up Kid" off 2018's
A Girl Cried Red. For the latter song, Princess Nokia traded in her usual bouncy flow for more melodic vocals. She did it a cappella and then went into how the song tied back to her emo roots. As much as she loves rock and alternative, she felt that emo music needed "a little more depth and consciousness," which brought her to creating the emo mixtape.
Much of the final segment was devoted to
A Girl Cried Red, unraveling in a stripped down fashion due to technical difficulties. Princess Nokia went on with an a cappella version of "Flowers and Rope" and "Your Eyes Are Bleeding," as well as a quick cover of Lana Del Rey's "Video Games."
Tia Nomore preceded with a performance that showed much love to the San Francisco Bay Area. She kicked things off with a couple of new songs, before breaking into a song called "Hyphy" — perfect for riling up the Northern Californian crowd. She stayed on top of her game from start to finish, delivering each verse with precision and infectious confidence. Hailing from Oakland herself, Nomore's immediate connection with the audience, who she referred to as her sisters, grew even stronger as she bid adieu with Mac Dre's "Thizzle Dance."
Queens D. Light started the show strong with two backup dancers, altogether forming a fierce trio that had the crowd in awe. She dedicated "Queen of Zamunda" to all queens out there, keeping up a cool, collected yet compelling flow. And on the bass boosted "Boss Goddess," she had the crowd chanting the chorus, "I'm a champion like Serena" — a homage to the tennis idol. Queens D. Light rounded out her set with "Pisces Problems," perfect for the current Pisces season.
Daughters, Gouge Away, Hide, The Marías — 3 March 2019
Noise rock group
Daughters brought on glorific chaos to its sold-out show at The Independent in San Francisco. The Rhode Island sextet, dressed in semi-formal wear, opened with "The Reason They Hate Me" off latest release You Won't Get What You Want, going haywire with buzzing guitar riffs and propulsive drums. Vocalist Alexis Marshall took off with his usual stage moves and his mic in full swing (literally). By next cuts "The Lords Song" and "Satan in the Wait," it seemed as if the crowd had formed a continuous vortex, keeping the pit at maximum intensity.
The band also revisited older cuts including the static shocker "The Dead Singer" from its 2010 self-titled and the frenetic "Recorded In A Pyramid" off 2006's
Hell Songs. To close, Daughters circled back to its newer material with "Guest House," "Daughter" and "Ocean Song."
Gouge Away preceded with a hard-hitting set, performing tracks like "Only Friend" and "Fed Up" that stirred up the packed venue. The Florida hardcore punk outfit kept its instrumentals brash and at high voltage, while vocalist Christina Michelle scream-sung with compelling force. Meanwhile, HIDE opened the show with a captivating set that mixed industrial rock and performance art. The Chicago-based duo's sound consisted of Seth Sher's intense synthwork and vocalist Heather Gabel's mechanically edgy vocals. With the room pitch black and a flashing strobe light against Gabel, HIDE's performance was a thriller brought to life.
Over at The Chapel,
The Marías closed out Noise Pop with its second sold-out show of the festival (its first taking place on Wednesday). The Los Angeles-based group filled the venue with its mellow, psychedelic take on bedroom pop. With the disco ball spinning, their set felt like the ultimate dream sequence.
"Cariño," the sentimentally sultry cut off 2018 EP
Superclean, Vol. II, opened up the show. María Conway's soft vocals against the band's soulful, jazz-inspired instrumentals were equally hazy and groovy. The setlist also included popular cuts "Only In My Dreams" and "I Don't Know You," as well as a cover of Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time."
(Photos: Chloe Catajan)