The recipe seemed simple enough: Take four of your favorite indie-rock bands. Pack them, along with a heaping helping of friends and underground music devotees, into the Kennel Club in San Francisco. Toss in a surprise guest appearance to accentuate the flavor. Add beer.
But what Kevin Arnold didn't count on when he threw a party he dubbed Noise Pop in 1993 was that he also was setting the table for what would evolve into one of the coolest music festivals in the country. Noise Pop, which will run from Tuesday through March 3, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its most expansive lineup of artists ever.
Guided By Voices, Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers and Big Star are among the 88 performers that will play in seven San Francisco clubs over six days. The festival also includes a film and video component and a free educational series, with panels of musicians, writers and industry insiders.
"I certainly didn't think it would last this long," says Arnold, who has a day job as an engineering manager at Listen.com. "And at the time, I had little faith in things remaining viable and actually cool for as long as this has."
What sets Noise Pop apart is that it isn't a schmooze-athon for the music industry like South By Southwest in Austin, Tex. Arnold and co-producer Jordan Kurland are emphatic about not turning their fan-geared indie-rock love fest into another spring break for A&R reps.