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Noise Pop 2019 Recap Pt. 1: Teenage Fanclub, Men I Trust, Baths and more

by Chloe Catajan

The Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area is back for its 27th year! Here's a recap of all the artists we've caught so far.

Teenage Fanclub, The Love Language — 25 February 2019

The members of '90s luminaries Teenage Fanclub might be all grown up now, but they're making the best of adulthood. Glasgow's indie rock quintet headlined the opening night of 2019's Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival at The Fillmore, performing a set of youthful guitar-driven anthems mixed with multiple stories from the road.

As the band tuned, vocalist-guitarist Norman Blake told the audience about their drive from Portland to San Francisco. They had stopped by a diner and were excited to find out that they qualified for the senior discount.

"Things are looking up from here," Blake said with a genuine smile across his face. It was one of the many times the group poked fun at their age.

All jokes aside, Teenage Fanclub delivered a set as turbulent as their songs about the teenage condition promise. The group opened with "About You" off 1995's Grand Prix, which featured Blake, vocalist-guitarist Raymond McGinley and bassist Dave McGowan professing the lovestruck lyrics in unison. Its upbeat jangle transitioned into dramatic power chords for a second song, "The Cabbage," from 1993's Thirteen.

Even newer material could resonate with fans of any age. Four songs in, Teenage Fanclub broke out latest single "Everything Is Falling Apart," which sinks in the gloom of life going awry. It skillfully balanced a soft tone for each verse, a driving chorus and an abrasive bridge. Every style Teenage Fanclub had honed over the years was in perfect harmony here.

Teenage Fanclub also brought out deep cuts from its 1990 debut album, A Catholic Education, including the title track, "Everything Flows" and "Heavy Metal II." The latter, Blake mentioned, was the band's "tribute to metal, the genre of music" and kicked off the encore set with a centrifuge of pure, unadulterated sludge. Teenage Fanclub went on to close with "The Fall" off 2010's Shadows and "The Concept," a popular single off 1991's Badwagonesque.

North Carolina's The Love Language preceded with an upbeat set of lo-fi indie pop. Songs like "Heart To Tell" and new single "Bees" featured sunny melodies nuanced by intriguing hooks, all of which were brought to greater life by frontman Stuart McLamb's onstage charisma. McLamb shared that he and the group were thrilled to play the historic San Francisco venue, and the audience reciprocated that enthusiasm throughout their performance. The hearty "Lalita" and buoyant "Calm Down" ultimately closed the set with a colossal breakdown.

Men I Trust, Michael Seyer — 26 February 2019

Bedroom pop lovers sold out the Great American Music Hall to see Men I Trust Tuesday night. The Montreal group put on a set of consistently chill, smooth-moving vibes, playing popular standalone single "Show Me How" early on. The song combined mystical vocals from singer-guitarist Emma Proulx with dreamy undercurrents from Jessy Caron's bass and Dragos Chiriac's synths, which had the audience swaying in a trance.

By adding melodic basslines and eighties-inspired beats, Men I Trust instantly transformed its sonic haze into an easygoing groove. 2016 single "Lauren" and "Break For Lovers" off 2015 LP, Headroom, especially got the rhythm going.

Los Angeles-based, Philippines-born Michael Seyer opened the show with a cool fusion of dream pop, R&B and soul from the help of his band. The onstage quintet started with a rendition of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory before diving into their set, rich with mellow riffage and smooth saxophone solos. Slow-burning bop "Pretty Girls" had the crowd swooning and moving, while set-closer "Lucky Love" twinkled with heartbreak—but in the grooviest way possible.

Baths, Briana Marela, Wizard Apprentice, There's Talk — 27 February 2019

Will Wiesenfeld of Baths played his headlining solo set for the first time in more than five years. The Los Angeles-based electronic artist usually plays alongside Morgan Greenwood onstage, but he had full control on night three. His performance included songs from across his catalog as well as a handful of new cuts. He opened with "Hall" off 2010's Cerulean, "Out" off 2017's Romaplasm, and then fan favorite "Lovely Bloodflow."

With openers Briana Marela, Wizard Apprentice and There's Talk, the entire bill was a medley of electronic music. Oakland-based Briana Marela kept things upbeat; Wizard Apprentice took to minimal beats, spoken word lyrics and visuals to explore healing after an abusive relationship; and There's Talk brought on the haze.

Check out our full feature of the show here: Baths brings all things new to Noise Pop 2019.

(Photos: Chloe Catajan)

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