Hardly anyone goes to music festivals without at least one must-watch band. Still, it’s almost impossible to properly familiarize yourself with giant lineups like Noise Pop. Everything from maddening noise rock to sexy trap and R&B is represented, making the best sampler hard to pinpoint.
Luckily, RIFF has combed through more than 80 acts to highlight some choice performances you shouldn’t miss this week.
While you’re looking forward to Teenage Fanclub or Bob Mould, don’t sleep on these upcoming Noise Pop sets.
Field Medic at Swedish American Hall — Wednesday — with Haley Heynderickx and KERA. $17-$21.
Having added an LP to a series of EPs under the name Field Medic back in October, Kevin Patrick Sullivan’s whimsical music only continues to grow. Supporting charming jangle pop with thought-provoking themes, the San Francisco songwriter and acoustic guitarist balances human emotion with deadpan humor. Having established an art collective called Sunroom Recordz & Salon in the City, it’s safe to say Sullivan knows his way around Bay Area indie-folk.
Marissa Nadler at Café Du Nord — Saturday — with Hilary Woods and Lady Lazarus. $15-$18.
Think of Chelsea Wolfe with less distortion but no less atmosphere and authenticity, and you’ll more or less know what this Boston songwriter brings to her brand of gothic folk. Sinister underpinnings and palpable melancholy reached new heights on her 2018 LP, For My Crimes, giving her stripped-down approach the potential for rapturous stage presence. This balance of cinematic sonics and no-frills storytelling will serve Nadler well with haunting and emotional weight.
MNEK at Rickshaw Stop — Wednesday — with Tayla Parx and Raja Kumari and DJ Aaron Axelsen. $17.
With melodic chops and delicious sensuality, it’s no wonder Uzoechi Osisioma “Uzo” Emenike has written bangers for Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé and Madonna. His musical reservoir encompasses everything from trap-tinged R&B to house techno and top-40 pop, lending diversity to his sticky hooks. Having given Billboard chart legends some of their best songs, MNEK is set to draw back the curtain on his own artistry.
Daughters at Bottom of the Hill — Sunday — With Gouge Away and HIDE. $21. 21+
It’s ironic that these Rhode Island noise rockers gave a music video to “Lex Sex,” considering that’s the least punishing cut off of their comeback album, You Won’t Get What You Want. Daughters revel in sonic decadence, which lends itself to unrelenting performances, overwhelming volume and nihilistic abandon. Their style has progressed from destructive barrages to hideous slow burns, informing what will surely be the most intense performance of the week.
Saul Williams at Brava Theater — Friday — With Lonnie Holley. $27.50-$37.50.
It’s not every day someone takes influence from Haitian field recordings and Beyoncé, but this dichotomy between modern production and rootsy grit has come to define Saul Williams’ sound. The New Yorker’s sound draws from world music, slam poetry and experimental hip-hop for a mind-altering experience. He’s played both Opera Houses and villages in developing countries—a testament to the versatility and sophistication of his work and his desire to spread his message anywhere and everywhere.
Kamaal Williams at Starline Social Club — Friday — With Jitwam and Outer Embassy. $20-$25.
Combining the timeless grooves of Herbie Hancock, the expressive soloing of Bill Evans and the visionary production of U.K. trip-hop, London pianist and producer Kamaal Williams is a true musical chameleon. His sound is hardly a difficult pill to swallow, mind you. His hypnotic beats, virtuosic improvising and nuanced ambiance throw a bone to both jazz purists and underground techno fans. If he is the face of jazz to come, the genre is in good hands.
The Marías at The New Parish — Sunday — With Katzù Oso, Ginger Root and Derek Ted. $20 (advance is sold out).
Californian Josh Conway and Atlanta-raised María are joined both in love and music, making them the ultimate psych-soul power couple. Their music is like a trip to a ’70s love-fest, lead by a compelling aesthetic combination dreamy singing and immersive arrangements. Where lots of psychedelia falls short, The Marías maintain a lovely, believable emotional quotient.
Charlotte Lawrence and Meg Mac at Swedish American Hall — Tuesday — With Thereisnogravity (DJ). $18-$20.
Angeleno Charlotte Lawrence has proven that a more serious take on teen pop can still rake in millions of streams. She actually laid the foundation for her rise to fame with a Bon Iver cover, proof enough of her left-field influence. Themes of mental health and social upheaval lay the foundation for much of her work, humanizing her youthful aura with sobriety and solidarity while leaving room for bumping beats and a well-developed voice.
Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist Meg Mac meshes blue-eyed soul and indie pop with an empowered voice and an uncompromising message. Her 2018 single “Give Me Back My Name” exemplifies her combination of anthemic choruses and diverse production, along with a firm stance alongside the oppressed and marginalized. Her impassioned voice is as much a call to arms as it is a pleasant listen.
VHS Collection at The Independent — Saturday — $20-$60 (Advance sold out).
If you couldn’t tell by the name, these Yew Yorkers like old things. From the band’s visuals to their gleefully cheesy synth and samples, VHS Collection’s brand of electro-rock has a strong flavor of retro worship. But for every moment of pure ’80s pop-rock bliss, there’s an infectious vocal lick or a crunchy guitar underpinning to keep the music as distinct as it is nostalgic.