Thursday, February 26, 2009

Noise Pop Begins with Sold Out Shows and Wine Pairings

Mountain Goats (solo) at Swedish American Hall, San Francisco
February 25, 2008

Noise Pop 2009 launched in San Francisco on Tuesday, with a crazy number of shows, films, and related events. Festivities began for me last night at the sold-out solo Mountain Goats show (aka John Darnielle) at the Swedish American Hall. It was such a civilized way to start off my 2009 Noise Pop experience as it was an early (7:30pm) seated show in an intimate venue.

John Darnielle's peformance last night was amazing. He's a charming and witty entertainer, singing intense songs and sharing both heart-breaking and hilarious tales from his childhood throughout the show. I've been a fan for years (and perhaps was even in the audience at the Thirsty Swede during the first San Francisco Mountain Goats show ever, which Darnielle referenced last night), and it finally struck me last night that what sets Mountain Goats apart from the singer-songwriter masses is Darnielle's biting lyrical content and his powerful vocal delivery, which at times verges on yelling. He's simply captivating and it was a treat to be in the audience last night and hear his lovely songs.

In addition to the music, at the show folks from Wente Vineyards were on hand in the bar area, sharing tales about their project "Discover the Wine, Discover the Music." Their winemaker is about to embark on travels around the country chatting up his indie rock/wine pairings, with trips to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and South by Southwest. Noise Pop was sort of their launch event. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole concept, but it's definitely an intriguing idea. After listening to Mountain Goats, winemaker Karl Wente chose 2 wines to pair with the music. A news blurb on the Noise Pop website says, "John Darnielle is like your favorite cashmere sweater-- the one that has a few holes, but you love & wear it no matter-- classic, yet 100% one-of-a-kind. Our Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc are both classic varietals of the Bordeaux..."

Wow. Sipping wine at Noise Pop. What a change from the early Noise Pop days of beers and free afternoon BBQ at Bottom of the Hill! What do you think about pairing wine with music? Do you associate particular beverages with certain bands or songs? What would you drink while listening to Mountain Goats? A brooding Pinot Noir? A funky Cab blend? Or maybe a cheap beer and a shot of whiskey?

Tomorrow I'm heading to the full-day "Industry Noise" event to hear all about the role of indie rock and indie performers in the changing music industry. Recap to follow.

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