Article and Photos L. Paul Mann
From Decembers 2015 Vandala Magazine
The New Noise Music Festival wrapped up it’s seventh year as Santa Barbara’s premiere new music event. On Thursday night October 15th, the festival began with a set by the young Santa Maria rockers the Royal Suns, at Velvet Jones nightclub. They were the first of over 50 bands to perform over the next four days as part of the festival. The Thursday night festivities continued up the road at Soho nightclub, with an opening set by another Santa Barbara band, Mexico City Blondes. The band is composed of a core male female duo with a group of backing musicians, featuring a sound that sort of meshes old school folk music with modern electronica. The early crowd seemed to love the groove responding enthusiastically. The next set at Soho was even more electronically inspired, in keeping with the theme of the night. Baio, who just came from a recent appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show, features a duo led by Chris Baio, best known as the bass player for Vampire Weekend. The quirky dance oriented sound brought in a large crowd of mostly well dressed female fans, typical of an upscale Santa Barbara audience. Headliner, Penguin Prison, aka, Chris Glover closed out the night at Soho with his dance infused remixes of popular songs as well as his own creations. The last band to play opening night was the hardcore punk band, Retox, from San Diego. Whiskey Richards nightclub on lower State Street served as the hardcore headquarters for the four day festival. Retox closed the night in support of their new album “Beneath California” with a mosh pit inspiring set. Animated lead singer Justin Pearson bounced around the club, singing on the bar and joining in the mosh pit. It was a high energy end to a great first day.
The festival expanded to five venues on Friday, featuring lost of diverse music. Two of the most interesting groups were Ariel Pink and the Black Lips. These two bands drew a full house at Soho nightclub, with a ferocious set by hardcore post punkers Black Lips playing first. The Georgia band had a sweaty crowd, moshing early on, with their opening song “Family Tree.” The mosh pit grew larger as the band amped up the sound with the song “Raw Meat,” and then played more mainstream songs like “Modern Art.” Lead singer Cole Alexander seemed bemused by the riotous response. The band ended their raucous set with the punk infused “Oh Katrina!” and “Bad Kids.” Ariel Pink and the Haunted Graffiti played next. The set included songs from his newest release, “Pom Pom,” and older songs from his previous albums. His band also played mosh pit inspiring songs like “Bright Lit Blue Skies,” “White Freckles,” and the psychedelic “Getting High In The Morning.” Bassist Tim Koh laid down an infectious groove that set the tone for some good jams.
The Festival continued Saturday with another barrage of great music. But the highlight of the evening had to be the closing set by the rap duo Prayers.
One of the most unique and interesting acts in the lineup, the San Diego based band delivered a fierce performance. The band describes their music as Cholo Goth and along with the South African hip hop duo Die Antwoord, may play some of the most original mash ups in recent memory. Wild eyed lead singer, Leafar Seyer (His real name spelled backwards) belts out fierce vocals. At the same time mercurial electronic music maven Dave Parley lays down the Goth laden tracks creating a surreal swirl of original music.
The festival wrapped up with a street party in the funk zone on the final day, Sunday,
October 18th. The line up featured a diverse mix of different Indie music genres, with some well known festival veterans. Fresno rapper Fashawn captured the crowd’s attention in late afternoon and had the crowd waving their hands and shouting out the lyrics on several of his more well known songs. Santa Barbara’s own Gardens and Villa played to a large crowd as the sun set over the ocean. The band brought their eerie folksy electronica sound to an appreciative home crowd, featuring much of their latest album, “Music For Dogs”. Playing distinctively moody songs like ‘Everybody,” with the hypnotic chorus “Everybody wants the new you / No one cares who you are”, backed with heavy synthesizers. Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen do the heavy lifting as the front me in the duo. Lynch’s distinctive falsetto vocals define the bands moody sound. His interesting vocal style ranges from an androgynous pitch on songs like (“Cruise Ship” and “Black Hills”) to a deeper tone on songs like (“Thorn Castles” and “Spacetime”). The band mixes the sounds of electronic synths and wooden flutes reminiscent of early Jethro Tull songs, but with a decidedly Southern California feel. The festival ended with a triumphant set by the New York Hip Hop duo Run The Jewels. Their infectious groove captured the imagination of the large crowd gathered for the festival finale. The 40-year-old veterans are experiencing long-delayed success. El-P helped New York’s hip-hop underground blossom in the late 90s as one-third of Company Flow, then forming his own Definitive Jux Records. Killer Mike, meanwhile, was a protégé of fellow Atlanta Hip Hop superstars Outkast. The pair came together as Run the Jewels, and won a whole new, rapidly growing fanbase. Their music is a throwback to the intensity of Run DMC, but with a more modern upbeat rhythm with a backbeat of dubstep. The duo led the crowd into a fist pumping finale and closed another great year for the New Noise Music Festival in Santa Barbara.
(Photos on the next page)