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John Vanderslice . Noise Pop 2007 . San Francisco

February 28, 2007

I am a pretty big fan of John Vanderslice’s recorded work.  I also saw him live a year ago at the beginning of his Pixel Revolt tour and enjoyed that show.  Thus, I was looking forward to his Noise Pop appearance last Wednesday night.  I was certain the home town crowd would be out in full effect, and Noise Pop always seems to have a few interesting surprises. 

The night had a unique beginning.  I wound up with a writer friend, from another magazine, at a happy hour in a high-end clothing store in San Franciscos’ yuppy business district.  We drank a few foreign beers amongst mannequins and denim I will never be able to afford then headed to venue. 

The Submarines were playing when we arrived.  They are a male female duo, which employs or exploits, depending on your preference for robotic rhythm sections, a drum machine.  The female part of the team was perky, and it was apparent they spent a lot of time picking out matching guitars. 

Up next was Damien Jurado from Seattle Washington.  I really liked this guy’s set.  It was mellow and probably a mistake on the part of Noise Pop to place him between John Vanderslice and The Submarines drum machine, but it was no fault of Damien.  Mr. Jurado plays slowly propulsive music in the vein of Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters or Iron and Wine.  He was at times funny, self-depreciating, and awkward with respect to his interactions with the audience; I loved this.  I can’t exactly say why, except that he seemed like one of the more human performers I had seen on a relatively large stage in a while. 

John Vanderslice followed Mr. Jurado.  This guy is perhaps the least “rock star” rock star I have ever seen.  He set up just about all of his own gear and helped his band set up theirs.   He forgot songs lyrics and joked with the crowd and his band at various times during the set.  Unfortunately, the crowd did not seem as hyped for his performance as I remember.  Some of this was probably due to the poor lineup order and John’s decision to open with a few new numbers.  All in all, it was a solid set, save for some unnecessary hand flailing (I believe for dramatic effect) on the part of Mr. Vanderslice.  But then again, rock stars are human too.

– By J.D.