Popscene: Seeing Big Bands in Small Venues


Hey, hey, come out tonight!

On October 19, 2006, Nik, an old guitarist of ours from the previous PA iteration and I drove up to San Francisco to watch one of my favorite bands, Mew, perform at Popscene. I almost wasn’t let in because I only had a temporary ID, but after pleading to the bouncers that I, “HAVE TO SEE THIS BAND!” they decided to forget arguing and let me in. 

My first impressions of 330 Ritch, the infamous location for Popscene until recent years, were that the club was oddly amazing, but I couldn’t imagine Mew actually performing on such a small stage. 

While we waited for the band, danceable songs I actually knew played over projectors screening Tommy and Starshaped, Blur’s 1992-93 tour movie. While that was at the peak of my Parklife revival, I hadn’t even heard of the Starshaped film,nor had I heard “Popscene" a Blur b-side from 1992. 

Mew came on and we were blown away. The stage at 330 Ritch was low and fans could crowd right up to it. There was one shorter person in front of me, so I had not only a full view of each member, but I was standing 5 feet away from them. The band were incredible and the sound in the club matched the performance. They played nearly every song I’d wanted to hear from Frengers and ATGHK and mysteriously exited the stage by way of a side door. 

As soon as Mew were out of sight, a dance remix of Bloc Party’s “Banquet" came on and everyone started dancing. Being a product of high schools that would rather have Wild 94.9 send in a "DJ" to play a "hip-hop" (I use this term loosely for a reason) radio hit playlist than music you could do more than dry hump to, I literally was not aware that dancing to music I liked was even an option. 

We left Popscene that night impressed and inspired. On the way out, I was able to meet Mew’s permanent live bassist and keyboardist, who were incredibly nice, which just added to the whole thing. 

Our car ended up being stuck in a parking garage that closed at midnight, so we wandered the streets of San Francisco, trying not to be attacked by bums (that was a legitimate fear, we were very strange) until 5am when we could get the car out. 

Despite being lost in the city all night, my experience at Popscene was unforgettable. Seeing a band that to me were incredibly famous perform at such a small venue was very inspiring. Take a look at the roster of former artists who have also performed Popscene-it’s mind blowing and includes many bands that to millions of people, are now incredibly famous.  


Picture Atlantic are honored to be performing at Popscene, which now takes place at The Rickshaw Stop, tonight at 9pm. Finish Ticket and Little Daylight are also on the bill, with Aaron and Miles of Live105 on the decks. 18+. Click here for more information.