If you’re anything like me, your relationship with music festivals is often hovering somewhere between love and hate. With so much great talent on a single bill, it’s kind of like one-stop shopping for the concert fiend. Then again, scheduling conflicts and maneuvering can prove to be … problematic if you don’t play your cards right. Starting tonight, New Noise Santa Barbara unleashes its annual flurry of music and tech talk on downtown proper. With it comes lots of inspiring music-industry folks, even more amazing events, and, yes, an action-packed concert schedule that is going to force you to make some tough decisions. So, let’s talk logistics. Below, are the 13 must-see acts on this weekend’s 60-band roster. Get your schedules out, makes some notes, and don’t forget to hydrate, because it’s going to be a wild weekend.
Ghost Tiger at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 9 p.m.
Santa Barbara stomp folksters have become known for their blend of sweet harmonies, romantic lyrics, and bright, layered arrangements. Check ’em out early in the opening slot for New Noise alum The White Buffalo.
The Soft White Sixties at Muddy Waters Café, 10:30 p.m.
These San Fran staples are mixing retro blues, Strokes-esque garage rock, and an organ-laced sound that immediately calls to mind The Black Keys. We’re calling it pop rock with a snarl.
Andrew W.K. at Velvet Jones, 11:15 p.m.
Waterstrider at Velvet Jones, 8:30 p.m.
San Francisco world funk purveyors are mixing muses to create a sound that’s part Talking Heads, part Vampire Weekend, and all sorts of smartly orchestrated fun. Here, percussion reigns king, and lilting vocals and bright keys add a playful element that has us hooked.
Mystic Braves at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 9:05 p.m.
If you like your rock with a heavy dose of ’60s-era psychedelia, Mystic Braves are your hot ticket of the weekend. The L.A. natives mix retro surf-rock guitars with fuzzy, Doors-channeling vocals and heaps of reverb, finding kindred spirits in fellow throwbackers like The Allah-Las and The Growlers.
Young Creatures at Seven Bar & Kitchen, 9:45 p.m.
Los Angeles indie rockers Young Creatures are pulling inspiration from the blues-rock canon and throwing it through a decidedly SoCal filter. The guitars are vampy, the cymbals are crashing, and there’s a subtle hint of reggae swagger hiding just below the surface.
The Blues and Greys at Muddy Waters Café, 10:30 p.m.
Santa Barbara songbird Lindsey Waldon takes center stage at the helm of this new musical project. Friday’s show doubles as a CD-release party for the band’s New Shores EP, which is chock-full of bright melodies, slow-building arrangements, and uplifting lyrics.
He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 10:45 p.m.
FMLYBND at New Noise Block Party, 4:20 p.m.
Isla Vista’s reigning synth-rock champs are sure to bring the thunder to their late-afternoon slot at the heart of the Funk Zone. Expect big beats, soaring harmonies, and a whole lot of dancing.
Haim at New Noise Block Party, 6:35 p.m.
As New Noise 2013’s unofficial headliners, the sisters Haim are sure to draw a crowd Saturday afternoon. In other words, be sure to show up early, stake your spot, and prepare yourself for a hooky, catchy, and oh-so-’80s pop-rock shred fest that’s going to go down when these L.A. ladies hit the stage.
Empty Priest at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 8 p.m.
The closing night of New Noise has always been a party, and there’s no one better equipped to get that party started than S.B.’s own Empty Priest. The DJ duo will spin pre-show beats that are more groovy and psychedelic than bassy and hard-hitting. Think Bonobo meets Tycho.
Gardens & Villa at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, 11:15 p.m.
S.B.’s hometown heroes plug in for their first area show since last November. With a new album waiting in the wings (and rumor of some epic surprises swirling around town), Saturday’s showgoers can anticipate a set heavily weighted with new material; expect the new tracks to hit harder, get weirder, and, yes, feature a solid helping of flute.
DJ Machete at Muddy Waters Café, 11:30 p.m.
Drum and bass take over our favorite Haley Street haunt on Saturday for a dance party unlike anything else New Noise has to offer. Los Angeles’ DJ Machete holds down the late-night spot with a set of deep cuts that mix R&B club tracks, world music, and a whiplash-inducing collection of beats.