With Victorian homes and food trucks galore, thousands came to watch nine Bay Area bands perform at Valencia Street on Oct. 15. The dynamic hub of the Mission District was transformed into a festival venue as Noise Pop held their annual “20th Street Block Party.”
The event was free for the community, but collected donations for two Mission District non-profits: La Cocina, an organization that provides aid for low-income restaurant entrepreneurs in the Mission, and 826 Valencia, which provides tutoring support to underserved students in the community.
The festival’s headliner, Destroy Boys, has somewhat of a cult following. The punk, heavy metal band originated in San Francisco and has spent the past year touring around the country. They have more than a million monthly listeners on Spotify and their most popular song has more than 50 million streams.
Thousands of people at the show — predominantly teenagers — waited for hours to see the band up close. The mosh pit was a kinetic bundle of energy as viewers danced, crowd-surfed, smoked, and sprayed putty into the air. It became so intense that within the first 30 minutes of the performance, the crowd demolished the barricades separating them from the VIP section — sending one person falling back onto open metal, before being lifted by the crowd. The security officials physically held up the barriers for the remaining hour of the show.
Despite the intense nature of the crowd and the instrumentation, Destroy Boys songs often had lyrics of hope and inspiration for creating societal and political change. The lead vocalist, Alexia Roditis spoke about working at the Trader Joe’s on Masonic Ave during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than a year later, their band garnered success. Roditis encouraged the audience to never give up on their dreams.
After playing a song about the need to abolish the police, Violet Mayugba led the crowd in a chant of “a better world is possible,” and continually expressed humility and gratitude to the audience.
Roditis honored the legacy of her own, and the Mission District’s, Latine heritage by singing a few songs in Spanish, dedicating them to “all the Latinos in the house.”
According to Stacy Horne, Noise Pop president and one of the founders of the festival, they designed the block party to give back to the community. In a conversation with the Foghorn, she said that “Noise Pop is quintessentially Bay Area Music. In 2013, following the model of the Capitol Hill block party in Seattle, and others throughout America, we thought it would be so great to bring something like that to San Francisco.”
In addition to the performances, there were local artisans and companies vending, ranging from vintage clothes stands to posters designed by local artists. Some attendees of the festival came for the music, and others for the shopping.
One of the most popular booths at the event was REUSE SF which had tote bags and thermoses. Passersby were offered one for free if they took a photo holding the merchandise with REUSE’s professional photographer and posted it on social media. In line for the photoshoot, I struck up a conversation with Dael, Caroline, and Laura, three exchange students from Spain and Germany.
“We just stumbled in here,” Laura told me. “We wanted to visit the Mission District and we ended up here. It’s so nice!”
Many were attracted to the festival thanks to its open alcohol policy, where they could bring their drinks with them as they listened to music, browsed vendor’s items, and even popped into shops on the Valencia Street corridor, from 18th to 21st street.
The highlight of the day for Tom and Maya, a young couple that lives in the neighborhood, was trying the canned cocktail Buzzballz for the first time. When I caught up with the pair at the end of the day, it was evident that they enjoyed them.
The festival has been located on 20th Street for its history, near the prior offices of Noise Pop. 2022 is the first time the festival expanded to Valencia Street. “It feels like over there we were in a little village, but now we’re in the heart of the city,” Horne said.
The event used its selection of vendors as a way to be more connected to the community, Horne noted.
For one vendor, showing his work at Noise Pop’s festival is transformative. Jachto Difico is a Latino, San Mateo based painter. His work is predominantly portraits, which have vibrant pops of color in the background. “My work is intention based. So a certain work is divided, or the color will give the overall theme or tone of the painting,” he said. “One of my friends on Instagram posted the submission form for this event. I just sold a print, which I typically don’t do, so I’m happy about that.”
Horne said she was touched by the creativity of the attendees. “We planned everything, but it’s like the ‘if you build it, they will come’ saying. There are some things happening that we didn’t plan,” she said. “The festival just has that community feel. That vibrancy. There’s just an openness that hasn’t been around for a few years. We’re so much more aware of how special it is to do something like this and not take it for granted.”
This story has been edited on 10/27 for clarity.