Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heeding the call of the siren, or a Homeric quest to the far reaches of Brooklyn in search of rock and glory unbowed by the breath of Hades (mostly)

It’s last Saturday morning. I’m slow getting up and still deciding if I’m going to go to the Siren Music Festival in Coney Island. Quick, while I have some Internet leakage from one of my neighbors, I refer to the Village Voice insert and search for audio clips online. I find some good ones. What the hell, it’s free. Not like I was gonna clean the apartment anyway.

Thanks to Hop Stop I take the N (instead of my beloved F) train. Express. Still takes more than an hour to get there.

I arrive about 2:30, just as Film School takes the stage. As a big fan of shoegazer bands like Slowdive, Ride and My Bloody Valentine back in the day, it’s great to hear someone bringing it back. Film School doesn’t do a direct lift, though. Most notably, the drums are often more rocking than that of early ‘90s dream-and- shimmer acts. But the wall of sound, grooving bass and soaring vocals are intact. At times during their set they remind me of Silversun Pickups, but Film School never cross over into complete aggro rock like the Pickups sometimes do.

Here’s “Compare” by Film School:

Their set ends and I’m already feeling beat up by the heat. Or is it hunger? Well I can solve one of those problems. So I head to Nathan’s Famous for a hot dog and a giant lemonade. The line at Nathan’s is a scene of sweaty hipsters and, surprisingly, regular Coney Island visitors who surely had no warning of the dual-stage rock fest going on. In the adjacent line a guy’s shirt has a silhouette of a tropical island with palm trees and the line “Sorry No Telephone.”

After killing that wurst while hiding in the shade I head back to the main stage for Annuals. They’re from Raleigh, NC, and I expect them to be roots/Americana. They kinda are, but they also kinda rock it on occasion. They seem a bit like kids, but they’re talented and into it and sweating just like we are. And they totally bring it with “Sore.”

Here’s “Sore” from Annuals:

It’s about 4:30 when Annuals finishes and I’ve got serious concerns about the little bit of sunscreen I put on before I left the apartment. I wander through the “attractions” and take a few photos. This place is pretty sad and looks unaltered from four decades past. Someone told me it’s been bought by Six Flags and will be redeveloped soon. I don’t know if that’s good news or not.

On my way to the other stage I stop for a beer and a sit. Apparently you can drink in public in Coney Island. Refreshed—if not re-hydrated—I amble alongside the Cyclone to a good spot to watch Ra Ra Riot, from Syracuse, NY. El Sol is beating down on my forehead like it owes him money, but I came to file a report on the rock, and file it I will. I liked RRR’s song “St. Peter’s Day Festival” during this morning’s intel session. Fun and catchy and summery. Live, you’re drawn to the two girls—on violin and cello—dancing and singing (without microphones, just because they’re into it).

Here’s “St. Peter’s Day Festival” by Ra Ra Riot (from a WOXY in-studio):

After a few songs (including “St. Peter’s,” which I do enjoy) I decide they’re too reminiscent of Vampire Weekend and elect to move on.

I buy a water and sit in front of the Sideshows By The Seashore listening to the pre-recorded loop of the hawker’s schpiel, done in his best Vincent Price. Who knew this was a real place? I thought it was just something from the imagination of Luna's Dean Wareham.

“And at the sideshow by the seashore
The girls are dressed as mermaids…”

Back to the first stage, Beach House is on. Beach House is the Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. They are killing us softly with their songs. Bad ‘70s references aside, they really do have the now much larger crowd completely entranced. They’ve brought a drummer, thankfully, and it sounds like they’ve got bass parts in the can too. They sound great, with Legrand’s Chan Marshall-esque vocals (a comparison I’m sure the band is sick of) aching against Scally’s lonely slide guitar lines. It’s not exactly summer music, which may be why it works so well.

Here’s “D.A.R.L.I.N.G.” by Beach House:

It’s a good note to go out on. When Beach House wraps I decide I don’t need to see Helio Sequence a fourth (or would it be fifth?) time, nor Stephen Malkmus a third. And I realize I’m more curious than excited about Broken Social Scene, who are scheduled an unfathomable two hours from now. Frankly I’m beat and starting to feel like the Warriors—tired and far from home (though they ended where I’m starting).

Turns out it was 96 degrees on Saturday. I’m not sure I’ve ever loved an ocean breeze as much in my life.

Oh, and no sunburn. Thanks for your concern.


Anonymous said...

And file a report on the rock, you done DID! Damn. Wish I could have been there. - DY

Anonymous said...

Are you going to All Points at all? I've got tickets for the 8th so I can see Radiohead and Girl Talk. Think about it.