Friday, July 24, 2009

We Dance to the Sounds of Sirens.

I spent the entirety of last Saturday in Coney Island at the Siren Music Festival. This, I admit, is overdue by about five days, but I still feel like I should write about it. The festival's been a mainstay in Coney Island over the last decade, with two free stages, a good amount of bands that are on the brink of making it big in indie circles, and a couple of big names every year since 2001.

Since there was a lot of overlap, I didn't get to see all of the bands, but I'll recap the ones that I did catch:

Tiny Masters of Today: They were the first band I saw all day, and I'm kind of glad that things got better from here. The band is made up of this brother and sister, and I think the oldest one is like 15? As such, they were (kind of expectedly) really, really awkward on stage. While watching them, all I could really say is, "Aww, that girl's adorable! What is she, 9?"

They'll probably figure it out in a few years.

Bear Hands: I honestly had no idea who these guys were, but my friend Alex recommended them to me. Now, I get it. They were super, super high energy, they commanded the stage, they interacted well with the crowd, and they looked really comfortable, which led to a great performance. They kind of sounded like Electric Six meets Eagles of Death Metal, for anyone who knows either of those bands. If you don't? Well, just check them out. Their music is catchy, and that's all it needs to be. Also, this video is apparently taken from the top of one of their amplifiers, so it looks a bit like Cloverfield:

Miccachu and the Shapes: I hadn't heard of these guys beforehand, but after watching them, they seemed like a really strange choice for a festival lineup. Here's what I mean:

Also, Mica herself spent half of the set playing a guitar that I could've sworn was a toy. Seriously.

Japandroids: Oh, yeah, ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhhh. This is what we came to see. The two guys in Japandroids seemed really overwhelmed by the size of the crowd (seriously, it was all they kept saying in between songs), but you'd never know it by their performance. Awesome. Loud, punky singalongs are exactly what the crowd needed, and everyone seemed into it. Apologies for the crappy sound quality on this one:

Frightened Rabbit: I think I was most excited for Frightened Rabbit of any of the bands on the schedule, because they put out one of my favorite albums of last year, The Midnight Organ Fight. Sadly, they were a little bit disappointing. I dunno what it was. I guess they kind of thrive off of studio polish. You be the judge:

Future of the Left: We only saw the last couple of songs of this set after walking over from Frightened Rabbit, but I regret not seeing the whole thing. When we arrived, the band had everyone chanting and singing, and by the end of the set, the bassist ended up really deep into the crowd. Also, SWEET BURNS in the first fifteen seconds:

Spastic doesn't do this set justice, and what I saw of it was great.

A Place to Bury Strangers: When I saw APTBS at NYU in the winter, it was at a really small venue, where we just got punished by a wall of sound. This time around, it was in an enormous space, with a ton of people and less awesome acoustics. Moral: if you get a chance to see them, the tinier the room, the better.

Also, literally everything that I said about them in this post held true. Even when he broke the strings on his guitar, swung it around by said strings, tried to put them back, then grabbed a new guitar and finished the last song. That's a fifteen-minute spectacle that's only worth seeing once.

Built to Spill: I love Built to Spill, but we got buried so far in the back for this, it didn't seem worth staying, so we left in the middle of their set. This isn't to say they weren't good or anything (in fact, I was enjoying their setlist a lot; we left right after "Strange" from Ancient Melodies of the Future), but we were just too far back to enjoy it. But enjoy "Strange!"

Spank Rock: After the Built to Spill fiasco, we just left and headed for the subway to beat the crowds, so we didn't get to see Spank Rock... BUT there is one interesting tidbit about this. When we got into the subway and were sitting in the car, waiting for it to pull away, we could still very easily hear the bass coming from Spank Rock's set, well across the street, pretty far away. They probably killed it, and by "it," I mean "someone."

And that's that. Later today, I'll probably write about the Paul McCartney concert I stumbled my way into, and sometime this week, my misadventures with Lil Wayne.


Friday, July 17, 2009

I Can't Breathe Underwater Like I Used To.

I'm gonna rave about this, but first, watch this video of "Zebra," a relatively tame moment from the Man Man concert. If you'll notice, you'll see yours truly at the bottom left, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE STAGE. Honus Honus spit water on me and grabbed my boob at some point during the show, friends. Raise your hand if anyone in a band has gone to second with you (and Mickey Avalon shows do NOT count).

Also, when he knocked his water over at some point during the show, I tried to be nice and pick it up. He then smirked at me and immediately knocked it over again. It was perfect.

Some concerts are special because while you're there, you realize that you're watching an incredible moment of technical precision. The band is on and playing tight, they have unbelievable control of their instruments, and the crowd is almost reverent because they know that they're witnessing serious mastery. When Beirut played at NYU, watching all of those guys play together was kind of like that.

This was not one of those concerts. I mean, that isn't to say that Man Man can't play; on the contrary, they're all actually really good. What I'm saying is, precision wasn't the order of the day (a couple times, Honus actually sat on his piano), and that was fine. Man Man is prided on their crazy live show, and they didn't disappoint. I have bruises from getting pushed into the stage, I got kicked in the back of the head, and in one of the funniest moments in the show, a kid next to me got SMOKED in the face with a tambourine.

This doesn't even include the sandstorm that got kicked up when everyone started moshing about during the set. This concert was unbelievable.

Anyone who's seen them knows what I'm talking about, and anyone who hasn't really should. That's all I can say about this without just gushing over and over again, and so I'm going to leave it at that.

Oh, and go buy some Man Man albums. Immediately.

Siren Festival is tomorrow. It's gonna have a hard time living up to last night.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

On CARAVAN '09/The Headphone Disasterpiece/Free Shows.

1) To you: my only loyal reader: I'm sorry, and I'll apologize for Kristina too. We suck at this. Looking at the calendar on this, it's been nearly three weeks since either of us posted, and I'm sorry to say, we absolute haven't been hard at work gathering something epic for you. Mea maxima culpa. With that said, I'm back.

2) I didn't go to any concerts since my last post... at least, nothing truly publicized. However, I did attend a really special event, and one that I can safely say will go down as my favorite music festival of the year:

This is a picture of the stage at CARAVAN 2009, our own little homemade Woodstock. I don't know exactly how this came about, but what I do know is that the end result found us driving eight hours to Belgrade, Maine. Essentially, it was like your average music festival, with less well-known (but still really good) bands and with much cheaper food. Also, a lake. Oh man, the lake.

At any rate, special thanks go to Matt Manser (and his dad, who was astonishingly cool about the whole thing) for the land, to all of the bands, and to anyone who had any kind of hand in organizing this. If it happens again, I am personally inviting anyone who reads this to CARAVAN 2010.


You guys remember "The Seed (2.0)" by the Roots? In case you don't:

The guy singing the awesome hook is Cody ChestnuTT (no, that isn't a mistake, those Ts are capitalized). Why he would choose to end his name with the help of Caps Lock is beyond me, but there's a lot of strange things about Cody. I'll get to that in one second.

This is The Headphone Masterpiece, Cody's debut (and from what I can tell, his only album). It's a double album, and, well, as a lot of you probably know, I think that within every double album, there's a far better single album that should've been released instead. In addition, it's one of the most confusing albums that I've ever heard in my life. Why?

Well, listen to that hook. It's actually lifted straight from a track from the album, "The Seed." If the whole album were like this, it would probably have been great. Instead, Cody jam-packed it with stuff like this:

That isn't a fluke, either. There are about a disc's worth of crap like this. I almost get the feeling that Cody recorded a real album, and then spent a couple days in the studio dicking around with his friends. Then, when it came time to actually make decisions, he just decided to keep literally EVERY SECOND of studio recording. And so, any time I listen to anything from the album, I expect it all to be great, but then I run into stuff like "Brother With an Ego." (ACTUAL LYRICS: "Sexy bitches that I fuck with my big black penis/ Thinks that I'm a motherfuckin' musi-cal genius.")

Don't couplets like that warm your heart?

And so, I can't recommend this album for you... but I kind of can't tell you to stay away from it either. It's a bit of an experience. His audacity to release something so undeniably pompous as a debut is kind of bold. As for whether it pays off? Well, listen to "Bitch, I'm Broke" again.

4)I'll be posting again really soon! In the next four days, there are four free concerts in New York City, and I plan on going to at least two of them: Man Man tonight (which i'm leaving for in about half an hour), Superchunk tomorrow (eh), the Siren Festival all day Saturday (ABSOLUTELY), and the Dirty Projectors on Sunday (another maybe). So, there will be concert reviews, I promise.

Enclosed is an actually good Cody trsck, as well as some Man Man and some of the Siren acts.


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