Despite every intention of seeing the first couple acts to officially open the festival at the Studio B kickoff party, I got distracted by all-you-can-drink sake at some Greenpoint sushi place and didn’t show up until about 11. Brightblack Morning Light went on soon after, and I have to admit, I haven’t really followed them since their first record for Matador came out about three years ago. It was right around the time the whole freak-folk movement was getting big, and I guess they got lumped in with that scene because their shit is real druggy and all the members look like straight-up hippies, but their set last night was mainly long, freeform jams, anchored by low, electric piano basslines and accented by a swelling two-man horn section. More than any kind of folk, freak- or otherwise, their songs played out like slow, spacey reggae, an unexpectedly calm way to kick off four days of presumably spastic showgoing. (Spastic showgoing after the jump.)
After about three jams that clocked around the ten-minute mark, I bounced to Coco 66 for the Albertans, one of The L’s 8 NYC Bands You Need to Hear (and Have About A Dozen Opportunities to See This Weekend). First things first: did you know Coco 66 has lasers? Well, they do. Lots of ‘em — like 200 — all swirling around in crazy patterns while bands stand in front of them, brazenly risking blindness as they play. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and it makes me feel better that we’re one step closer to the existence of my dream concert venue (basically, a planetarium with a bar that also serves breakfast food). Anyway, the Albertans played around NYC pretty regularly a couple years ago before effectively ditching the city and moving to Canada. Back then, they called themselves Sex With an Angel, and if you skipped them because of the unfortunate name, you should probably try to catch them this weekend before they split for the north again. “Sex With an Angel” became their amazing EP, and they have a new record coming out in a couple weeks that should, if this set was any indication, be yet another solid collection of the sort of tight, polished, expertly arranged pop songs we’ve come to expect from frontman Joel Bravo.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that Bravo’s great, previous NYC band of a few years back, Bravo Silva, has not yet been forgotten. Bravo and his former bandmate Henry Wolfe (aka Henry Silva) reunited on stage at the end of the Albertans’ set and brought out a couple old Bravo Silva tunes to the pleasure of a room full of more Bravo Silva fans than I even knew existed. It was one of those nice reminders that no matter how difficult it can be to carve out a niche here, folks are devoted enough in their fandom to stay with you no matter how much time you spend hiding out in Canada.