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American Music Club, Decemberists To Play NoisePop 2004

San Francisco — Jolie Holland, whose debut, Catalpa, has already won her praise and fans all over the world, The Wrens, Kaito, The Decemberists, Willy Mason and Super Furry Animals are just some of the highlights of this year's NoisePop music festival, which will take place in San Francisco from February 24th through February 29th. Neko Case and Friends, featuring Case, Kelly Hogan, Carolyn Mark, and John Rauhouse, will also perform, as will the reformed American Music Club.

"We feel really honored to have them [American Music Club] closing out the Festival," wrote NoisePop co-organizer Jordan Kurland in an email to Neumu. "I moved to San Francisco in 1995 and wasn't around for the legendary AMC shows that you hear about: Mark Eitzel kicking a beer glass off the stage at Hotel Utah, etc. I certainly do understand their importance.

"Musically they are like that person you know who looks good in whatever he or she is wearing, whether it be a leather jacket and biker boots or a three piece suit. AMC was able to combine, stretch, and switch between genres without ever sounding or feeling awkward. Musical boundaries simply didn't apply. Couple that with the intelligent, haunting, angry, incisive lyrics of Mark Eitzel and well, you've got a pretty phenomenal band."

The 12th annual NoisePop will feature over 80 indie bands and solo artists from around the world, plus an alternative film festival and a Hastings Law School forum on music industry-related topics.

Also on the bill (with more to come): The Stills, Oranger, The Unicorns, Low, British Sea Power, The Tyde, Denali, The Locust, Stratford 4, The Detroit Cobras, Pedro the Lion, 50 Foot Wave (featuring Kristen Hirsch), Preston School of Industry, Aluminum Group, Devendra Banhart and John Vanderslice.

"I hate to so diplomatic about it but the truth is I'm really excited for just about everything," wrote Kurland. "The booking process for this year has been an interesting one. We've been fortunate over the last few years to host a number of 'marquee' acts and each year it feels that the bar is raised a bit. I was admittedly concerned up until recently about how few shows we are hosting at the bigger clubs - we only have one at Bimbos and one at the Fillmore.

"But now I'm pretty amazed at just how many great acts we have even if they are not at the level of Stephen Malkmus or Modest Mouse quite yet," Kurland continued. "I think that this is going to be a year where people look back and are blown away that they were able to see so many of these bands at this point in their career."

Started in 1993 by Kevin Arnold with five bands, NoisePop has evolved into one of the preeminent indie music festivals in the country. In 1997 at a point when Arnold wasn't sure if he could keep organizing NoisePop on his own, band manager Jordan Kurland came on board as a partner. "I started working on the festival when it was turning six and had been reading interviews from Kevin saying how he didn't know if he was going to do another Noise Pop," Kurland wrote.

"I think he was just overwhelmed at the pace it was growing at and since I came on board there hasn't been a conversation about not doing another one. He just needed someone to share the stress with. Kevin and I always joke that Noise Pop is our 'hobby.' We've got a great group of people helping out but no one - including Kevin or I - is a full time employee and often times we'll wonder if it is worth it. So I guess what's really surprising is that we're just too stupid to quit."

From the first festival held exclusively for one night at SF's Kennel Club, NoisePop now hosts nearly 100 bands each year. They perform over a three-night period in the best of San Francisco's clubs and theatres: The Fillmore, Great American Music Hall, Bottom of the Hill, Café du Nord, The Independent, Bimbo's, and Slim's. "It's incredibly gratifying that people appreciate Noise Pop as much as they do both here in the Bay Area and on a national level," wrote Kurland. "I love it when a band routes their tour around playing the festival and its equally rewarding when we have the chance to put a Bay Area based artist on a show with one of their heroes or in a room they haven't had the opportunity to play. It's rewarding to see a band move through the ranks of the festival and watch them grow from first or second on a bill to a headliner.

"We presented Bright Eyes, The White Stripes and Modest Mouse's first show at the Great American Music Hall and Death Cab For Cutie's second Bay Area appearance (opening for Creeper Lagoon and Grandaddy in 1999) and then their first headline show at Bottom of the Hill a year later," Kurland continued. "Those are amazing experiences and for everyone involved and it's at these times when we realize, that, yes, it is in fact very much worth it."

An All-Access Badge (which was a sell-out last year), will cost $125, but $12-$25 tickets to individual shows may be purchased as well at the particular venue or on the festival's Web site. Local hipster hotels The Phoenix and The Triton are offering special rates to NoisePop attendees (ranging from $85 to $135 a night).

For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, please visit the NoisePop Web site — Nicole Cohen [Wednesday, February 4, 2004]

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