30 Years of Noise Pop

30 Years of Noise Pop


30 Years of Noise Pop How A 5 Show Became A Citywide Celebration of San F

For three decades, local booking company Noise Pop has championed independent music in the Bay Area. What began as a $5 show at what is now The Independent on Divisadero has grown into an annual citywide celebration of up-and-coming acts alongside some classic favorites like Yo La Tengo for those who remember life before the tech boom.

Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold began Noise Pop in 1993, never expecting it to blossom into a citywide celebration of San Francisco's vibrant music and art scene. But now the fest is celebrating 30 years with an impressive line-up of over 160 touring acts and local artists across venues in both the Bay Area and East Bay.

As the first show with an all-local lineup, it also set the precedent for other smaller festivals and club events in the area, such as Treasure Island Music Festival. Furthermore, it brought together artists from different genres to provide fans with a unified experience.

Arnold was born in the East Bay but moved to San Francisco as a teenager. After graduating from University of California Berkeley with a degree in architecture, he founded Noise Pop Industries to produce and promote events like the annual Noise Pop Festival.

Once Arnold graduated from college, he spent time traveling and studying architecture in Europe before returning to the Bay Area. To make a living, Arnold established a small company in Oakland and worked on projects such as an office building and the Golden Gate Bridge's construction.

He then obtained a job at The Independent, the former Kennel Club on Divisadero Street in San Francisco. After working there for some time in the office, he eventually rose to become its manager and started bringing in new bands to perform.

Another significant development in Arnold's career was the rise of live event promotion companies like Live Nation and AEG, making it difficult for small clubs to remain profitable in an overcrowded market. At that point, Arnold realized the need to create a community around music-themed events - thus launching Noise Pop as part of that initiative.

The event has become a cornerstone in the Bay Area music scene and is currently one of the premier festivals for booking up-and-coming musicians. Its success has helped establish San Francisco as an arts and music mecca, with Arnold having deep ties to that community. He plans on keeping that focus as he grows and expands the festival beyond its traditional San Francisco roots.

Combo Tezeta

On a cold Friday night in Oakland, Combo Tezeta offered up psychedelic guitar-driven instrumental cumbia seasoned with some Bay Area spice. The six-piece sextet played an energetic take on classic 60s and 70s garage band hits, complete with distorted guitars and shimmery synths adding layers of psychedelic ooze onto timbales and guiras. Surprisingly relaxed as they played together seamlessly, Combo Tezeta looked incredible relaxed throughout their performance.

It's easy to see why this band gained the attention of Noise Pop staff when they made a major splash last year. Their unique blend of psychedelic rock with cumbia's Afro-Latin rhythm became an instant hit, leading them to perform at numerous venues around San Francisco Bay Area.

Combo Tezeta's debut 7" vinyl record, "La Danza Del Camaleon," pairs driving cumbia about a dancing chameleon on one side with an uptempo psychedelic bolero on the other. They also play several other cumbia shows around town including Underground Cumbiamba series at Bar Fluxus.

They recently joined Noise Pop's carefully curated lineup for their 30th anniversary celebration this February, which includes iconic indie-rockers, boundary-defying up-and-comers, rare reunion shows and more taking place at local venues throughout SF Bay Area over seven days. To make things easier for concert goers, the Noise Pop team has created a helpful scheduling tool so you can prioritize which acts you'd like to catch and create an itinerary that works best for you.

With more than 160 music concerts, art shows and alternative programming taking place over a week, this festival is one you don't want to miss. Thankfully, thanks to ride-hailing services, expanded bike lanes and rental bikes and scooters available throughout the city, getting around is easier than ever for festival goers.

For three decades, The Noise Pop team has been promoting concerts and creating unique festival properties throughout Northern California. To mark their 30th anniversary this year, they've carefully curated an exciting lineup of indie rock icons, boundary-pushing acts, rare reunion shows, Bay Area debuts from international artists as well as more than 100 local acts to mark this momentous occasion.


Three decades ago, The Kennel Club (now The Independent) hosted a one-night music and arts celebration that has grown into an annual citywide festival that honors San Francisco's vibrant music, arts and culture scene. For one week in February each year, Noise Pop transforms the entire San Francisco Bay Area into festival grounds with concerts, art exhibits, film screenings and happy hours taking place all around town and its environs.

Urban music festival The Noise Pop Festival has become a beloved staple in the Bay Area, featuring indie-rock icons and up-and-coming local artists alike. Organized by Kevin Arnold and his team at Noise Pop Industries, this year's 30th anniversary edition of the Noise Pop Festival boasts 160 touring acts across multiple venues in both San Francisco and East Bay areas.

For fans of indie music, the festival can be a daunting obstacle for smaller clubs. That is why organizers make sure to include an eclectic range of Bay Area favorites on each year's lineup.

This year the festival organizers have joined forces with Kilowatt bar to bring garage-rock trio L.A. Witch to perform two nights as part of its lineup - marking the first live music the popular bar has hosted since its new owners took over late last year.

Kilowatt has long been the gathering spot for Mission's punk and indie scene. Its walls are covered with old show posters and photos, its bar stools hang from the ceiling, while dogs playfully chase around patrons' legs while their owners enjoy some seriously cheap drinks.

The bar is a no-frills, no-pretense place that prioritizes community support over trendy decor. It's the kind of place that offers birth date gambling pools when you're pregnant and throws a benefit to cover funeral costs when someone passes away.

Though SF's music scene has become overrun with boutique bars, one Mission District bar still stands the test of time: Kilowatt. Opened in 1994 at 16th Street and Valencia Avenue, this iconic venue has been a cornerstone of local musical life for nearly a decade.

Bottom Of The Hill

Bottom Of The Hill, located at 1233 17th Street in San Francisco, has long been a beloved live music venue that caters to emerging rock and grunge bands. Since opening its doors, Bottom of The Hill has featured many acclaimed artists such as Arcade Fire, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Blink 182.

The space's cozy setup makes it perfect for listening to music and has become a popular venue to attend shows. It offers an intimate setting that puts guests right in the middle of all the action, giving everyone a truly awe-inspiring experience.

Kevin Arnold founded Noise Pop in 1990 and it has evolved into a citywide celebration of San Francisco music, arts and culture with an eclectic lineup that encompasses genres and generations. However, one constant throughout these decades is the emphasis on local talent.

At the inaugural Noise Pop festival in 1993, Arnold first put the spotlight on Bay Area bands and celebrated the city's musical depth and diversity. That mission has continued to this day as Arnold and fellow festival organizers strive to give these local acts a platform to perform.

That is why it's no shock that a diverse lineup of musicians and performers will be performing during this year's 30-year anniversary edition of the event. Headliners include Yo La Tengo, STRFKR, Boy Harsher and Duster as well as numerous local acts.

Other than musical artists, the festival will also host non-musical events like film screenings, art shows and comedy showcases. A tribute is expected to be paid to late house photographer Peter Ellenby who captured some of the festival's most memorable concerts such as Overwhelming Colorfast and Sgt. Major 6.

In addition to an exciting music lineup, the 30th anniversary of the festival also includes historic-minded events like "Alive and Kicking," featuring vintage concert photos and poster lineups, as well as a tribute to Peter Ellenby featuring images from his time at Bottom of the Hill.

It's an opportunity for the city to celebrate its cultural heritage and showcase the best local independent music. This week-long festival offers plenty of activities, whether you're searching for an energetic experience or something more relaxed.

Related Articles