Noise Pop day 2: Free Energy, Fresh & Onlys, Foreign Born, Harlem, awkward Best Coast

Post Author: , Jenz

I caught the tail end of
Love is Chemicals with Nate Grover wailing about something in a
rather serious and emotional manner. It was good to be back at Bender’s; it was as if
I never left.

In the downtime between bands I made a bolt to Mission Thrift to
see if I could score some reasonably priced western shirts or sweaters of the
dapper yet casual variety. After finding four fine pieces of colorful second
hand fabrics, I made it back to enjoy the wistful, glockenspiel tinged Ian
Fays’ set. Their twee nature gave me a yearning to see Paul Kelly’s Take Three
Girls: Dolly Mixture Story
documentary. Alas, to be on the other side of the

Speaking of documentaries, I was able to catch Nathan Christ’s documentary
Echotone at the Roxie. It was an inquisitive glimpse of pop Mecca Austin, Texas
about the challenges of condos infringing upon the paradise of the weird and
wide-eyed. Among these he focuses on Belaire, Bill Baird, Black Joe Lewis and
the Honeybears, Dana Falconberry, Fancy Feast, Ghostland Observatory, Sound
Team, Sunset, The Black Angels and the almighty SXSW festival. Soundtrack is
heavy on the Strange Boys, but I felt there could have been some inclusion of
Ryan Sambol’s eccentric behavior to spice up the big “struggling musicians
versus the SXSW/condo machines” motif.

After getting denied the pleasure to hear Harlem at Cafe Du Nord, I hopped an F
train to the Rickshaw Stop. Praise Job, no hold-ups at the door or funny
business and here I am listening to the kids from Free Energy wail around. At
first it sounded like a ’73 Bell records revival. Then throw in some Phil Lynot
shredding sensibilities channeled through some contemporary cosmic belief that
the Strokes’ sophomore effort Room on Fire contained a secret rock n’ roll
format code. I guess. However, the boys had their sound tight and EQ’d proper
and you figure that’s about half the battle in a rock climate that favors out
of tuned, anti-fidelity, drone-y, anti-structural, post-whatever schools of

The Fresh and Onlys are set to take the stage. In support of its Snakes 7″, the quartet showcased its blitzkrieg pop elements
along with its thrashier-trashier Slash Records side. The impressive
combination of petals and musicianship made for all kinds of crazy effects that
left me scanning the stage for a keyboard or perhaps a hidden assembly of
singers. Ahh, nothing like a solid group of Haight Street vanguards to show
these pukes how it’s done.

Next up we have Foreign Born. They took to the stage with an up-beat Irish
guitar tone and a big sound consisting of a keyboardist, an acoustic and an
electric guitar, a bass, a drummer and another percussionist on congas and
tambourines. “We’re on the first night of our greatest hits tour,”
lead singer Matt W. Popieluch wryly joked. With chiming guitars, polyrhythmic
grooves and a little bit of good old fashioned perseverance and he might not be
far off. “Escape” raised the decibels; the
beat got louder and I joked to myself how Chris Martin would do good to take
some animated tips from these blokes. Hell, they might pull off a better
Coldplay affectation than those chamber pop-PBS soundtrackers themselves. Closing
out the set with “Vacationing People,” Foreign Born saved its most
chugging of guitars for last. Gone was the pleasant Irish tint and in was the
grit. I was happy to have been there and also happy with my new second hand

Market Street field trip