The National. Beach House. The National. Beach House. Outside! This is one of those really, really great big shows, worth getting excited about. The show is way sold out, but it will totally be worth it to grab a ticket off of Craigslist. Both of these bands have “Best of 2010” albums out, and The National certainly put on a beautiful live show. If you can, make it out to this one. A Brooklyn evening for the ages.
Well, you missed your chance to see Ariel Pink at a tiny venue. The has-been-around-making-so-much-music-forever-but-is-finally-getting-the-deserved-recognition artist of 2010 is moving on up and out to Irving Plaza, for the best non-free show to hit this city since the summer touring slump started. I feel a little guilty talking him up too much because a lot of bloggers have been onto him for awhile, whereas I’ve only been listening for the last year and a half. So, I’m a little late to the game, but his new album is pretty great and you should check it out if you haven’t listened yet. It’ll be on all sorts of 2010 best of lists. Puro Insticnt, who used to be Pearl Harbor, are the immediate support. I wasn’t so thrilled by their set at SXSW: it was interesting, but not entirely competent. I suspect some of their success has stemmed from the fact that they market themselves as two very beautiful women playing rock. But still, they’re an interesting LA band and worth checking out. And of course, Magic Kids, one of our favorites, are opening up the show, armed with new songs from their forthcoming album, which I hear sounds all grown up and better than ever. This is THE place to be tomorrow night, so make sure you don’t miss out. Ariel Pink single and new Magic Kids song below.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are a lot of fun. Getting to Governors Island is not. First you wait on line to get on the line for the ferry. Then you wait on the ferry line. Then they herd you onto the ferry like cattle. Then you wait in line to get off the ferry. Then you wait in line to get into the concert area. You wait on line to get your 21+ wristband, then you wait on line for the bathroom. There’s a beautiful view of the skyline once you’re there, but unless you’re with a ton of friends and you’re very excited for the band, it may not be worth it to see shows at Governors Island. The simple logistical problems are just really tricky- it’s not the fault of the concert organizers, it’s what happens when 1,000 people get off a boat at the same time.
The opener for the evening was one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard. I actually don’t know who they are and it doesn’t say on the Bowery Presents website, but wow, hackneyed lame-o country rock to the max! Plus, the guy was wearing a hat! I was offended that any booker thought we would want to listen to them. The lead singer was clearly surprised that they were playing as well. He was very gracious thanking the powers that be for the opportunity to play, but then did things like throw his pick into the audience because he’s “always wanted to do that.” Instead of being charming, it just made him seem like an aging mediocre musician sent to bore us before we got see Edward Sharpe.
We Are Each Other were up next, which confused all of the teenagers standing around me (and apparently the reviewer for The Huffington Post). It’s all the same members as Edward Sharpe, except Alex sits and plays the bongos and their piano player sings instead. The songs they played had promise, jangly and orchestral, much like Edward Sharpe, reminiscent of classic acts like The Band, but none of the musicianship or charisma was there to take it to the next level. In fact, that’s also what I’d say about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, who returned to the stage in that form about a half hour later.
The band has three really, really good pop songs. Their aesthetic stands out in today’s popular music landscape, but is nothing new. They present themselves as hippies from the desserts of 1960s Los Angeles. Alex Ebert never picks up an instrument, he sings and entertains, prances around in linen pants and a bare chest, a nicely sculpted body that looks more like the result of yoga and cigarettes than any sort of masculine efforts. He’s captivating, but not quite captivating enough. As I said, there are three really, really great pop songs (“Home,” “Kisses Over Babylon,” and “40 Day Dream”), but the rest of the music falls flat. The musicians in the band either don’t have the chops or aren’t in quite the right combination to produce that little bit of magic that this type of music requires. I sort of felt badly for the kids around me. They fell for Alex’s stage tricks, his insistence that he would, “do the best to make sure this barrier isn’t here,” and that “this is a two way street, what we’re doing here.” Those are things that a greater band with a greater lead singer would communicate with their performance, rather than have to state. I heard many of the adoring kids say, “This is the greatest concert I have ever, ever been to.” All I could think was that they hadn’t been to enough concerts yet.
The one truly amazing element of the band is Jade Castrinos. She’s bashful and brash at the same time, with a voice that could melt butter and cut through a phone book. She’s got the magical X factor. Someone needs to give her her own band, stat. She should sing every song and call all the shots. Maybe that would take away from her timid charm, but I think that given the reigns, she would only end up kicking ass. At the end of the night I walked away feeling alright about Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as a project, but a huge, huge Jade fan.
Here’s a bunch of pics. I’ve just lumped them all together. The first two band pics that don’t have Edward Sharpe people in them are of the opener, whose name I do not know.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at Governors Islands:
I saw K Holes at Cake Shop just a few short weeks ago, and they left quite the impression. Full of nervous New York energy, not afraid of the free jazz, and totally rocking at the same time, I thought they were one of the more musically creative groups I’ve seen for awhile. So much so that I can say that I definitely recommend this show on an already jam-packed Friday. Gary War are pretty interesting, too. They play really distorted songs that sound vaguely like 8-bit at times, vaguely like television jingles, and definitively like eerie, barely breathing rock compositions. Give them a listen here; you’ll think it’s interesting at the very least. The Super Vacations, a band from Virginia with whom I’m completely unfamiliar, are also playing. They do the really lo-fi basement rock thing, though some of the songs on their MySpace are grooving instrumentals, and others are distorted pop songs. I’d say they definitely add to the appeal of the bill, if only to see how they are (they’re Weekly Tape Deck approved, too). It’s always nice to check out an out of town band, especially when you know there a few excellent familiar Brooklyn acts guaranteed.
Yes, yes, yes, we’ve talked about The Antlers and Dinosaur Feathers so much that they’re old news by now. But this show is outdoors! And it’s free! And it’s Thursday. Don’t you deserve to see some great live bands? Yes, yes you do. Go ahead! Get out there! Marvel at the beauty that is Peter Silberman’s voice and Dinosaur Feathers’ harmonies. You won’t regret it.
A really good pop song is a really good pop song. I put “Home” on my 2009 Favorite Songs List, and people have continuously picked it out as one of the songs they liked most. I think nearly everyone has heard it by now, whether from a music blog or a commercial, but perhaps you haven’t seen the video above. It’s by far the most charming performance I’ve ever seen on a late night television talk show. They have absolutely no regard for the camera, seem like total weirdos, and Jade Castronos is one of the most compellingly honest performers I’ve encountered. I’ve never seen them live before, I think their album is a little thin in general, but I have tickets to see them tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited.
It’s that time of year again. Get out there and sweat with the best of them at Siren. Eat some hot dogs, walk on the boardwalk, ride the cyclone. If you do decide to brave the crowds and the heat, make sure not miss these bands, my picks for this year: Dom, Wye Oak, Ponytail, and Harlem. I’ve usually only seen these bands in tiny, tiny places, so it should be a lot of fun to watch them rock and enormous outdoor stage. Have fun, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!