Noise Pop celebrates its 20th birthday in 2012, and its lineup once again features the expert curation of fresh-faced artists that we’ve come to expect: Die AntwoordBleachedGrimes and oOoOO are among the names that hit the scene recently and started making waves in a hurry. But there’s a hidden story in Noise Pop’s 2012 lineup – a slick tribute, on this notable anniversary, to its rich 20-year history of highlighting these acts on the rise. One need only look to the veterans returning to the festival’s lineup for 2012.

Of course, there’s headliner Flaming Lips, whose “Boombox Experiment” at Noise Pop 1998 provided a glimpse of the band that would establish themselves the kings of psychedelia in the following years. Archers of Loaf played Noise Pop in 1997. Imperial Teen, 1999. Built to Spill, while not technically Noise Pop alums, have been around longer than the festival has, and can claim to have influenced dozens of acts which have graced a Noise Pop stage in its 20 year history.

Plenty more alumni, when grouped together, read like a who’s who of indie rock crossovers – Modest Mouse, The White Stripes, The Shins, Spoon – who have since permeated the mainstream and immeasurably influenced the variety and scope of music today. It is the festival’s consistent – and consistently right – judgment of “what matters” in the music world that makes it such a valuable San Francisco tradition.

Today, we give props to Noise Pop for lasting two decades without ever taking their finger off the pulse of essential music. Check out our gallery to see 20 years of Noise Pop in posters:

For more Noise Pop coverage, check out our day-by-day guide to Noise Pop 2012, where we map out our nightly concert itinerary for this year’s edition of the festival.