We are currently in the midst of high summer concert season in New York City, and every night finds us spoilt for choice. Doubly so on the weekends, where every show attended means the shunning of several more worthy options. Of course, given the fine, mild weather, it can be hard to leave your rooftop picnic parties or whatnot. No worries, we understand. Although, I too missed many excellent weekend concerts, I did manage to attend a concert a day over the previous three-day span, and am prepared to fill you in. Movie soundtracks came to life. Free shows were offered. Mosh pits were formed. And lo, twas good.
Continue for photos and a brief summary of what you missed. From Drive to Dirty Beaches, from TEEN to teen punks.
Drive Soundtrack show @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
A show centered around the slick, noir synth soundtrack of the Ryan Gosling revenge hunk vehicle Drive, seemed strange in theory. The stylish facelessness of this music wouldn't seem to lend itself to a live setting? But the sold-out show, featuring Frenchman David Grellier's dance act College as a headliner, was very fun and raucously upbeat. It was like a scene from a Bret Easton Ellis movie adaptation in which the coke zombies attend a club that is almost a little too 80s. "A Real Hero," the movie's dumb but awesome love theme was teased early and often.
Not leaving the anticipation to the very final second as expected, Grellier invited Electric Youth's Bronwyn Griffin to the stage to perform "A Real Hero" at the 2/3rds mark of College's set. Though just a little shaky, It was the level-jumper that was intended, clearing the decks and raising the room's energy level for some more emphatically 4/4 dance tracks.
Electric Youth opened the night with a solo set as well, and were followed by French rock/pop trio Anoraak. If you were wondering if all modern French rock/pop groups of the moment sound alarmingly like Phoenix, then based on this extremely limited sample size, yes. Yes, they all do.
TEEN @ Union Pool
TEEN, the new project from former Here We Go Magic member Katherine "Teeny" Lieberson, played a free outdoor show at Union Pool Saturday afternoon. Though their name is tragically generic, they might actually be one of the best new bands in Brooklyn. Teeny's strong voice dominated the long, winding songs in the set. They were best when wispy (but sharply timed) three-girl harmonies bled in and out of locked grooves, or floated gently over the top of chunky MOOG hooks. While the free show only moderately filled Union Pool's back porch spot, the music was as pleasant as the weather. Their Carpark Records debut In Limbo (mixed by Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3) might well win them a strong following when released this fall.
Martial Canterel, Dirty Beaches @ (le) poisson rouge
Though their Saturday night show at 285 Kent was your typical hardcore punk smash-em-up, Iceage's choice for support acts last night at (le) poisson rouge might attest to Elias Ronnenfelt's head being more fully immersed in his dreamy synth side project, Var. Sean McBride, from Xeno and Oaklander, played a solo set of his Martial Canterel material, which is somehow even more focused than X & O on analog synth tones delivered at a brisk dance pace.
Dirty Beaches' set was noisier, more aggressive, yet less focused. There were moments when Alex Zhang Hungtai earned the Suicide comparisons he often gets. Primal screams and primitive bleeps do bring you to that formative place for synth-punk (just as three chord punk puts you in mind of the Ramones). But the energy level wasn't sustained enough to suggest the whiff of danger he'd need to consistently pull it off.
Iceage @ (le) poisson rouge
Iceage are the foremost ambassadors for Copenhagen storied punk scene, due to their excellent 2011 album New Brigade and general handsomeness. (Seriously, Ronnenfelt has gone Full Catalano at this point. Be careful out there ladies.) The downcast synth tone of the openers was no preparation for the surge of riffs and pouts they were about to unleash.
The nuance and melody that made New Brigade so excellent gets kind of steamrolled by the band's live pace and force. But still, you have to admire the intensity that turns (le) poisson rouge, a venue with "sedately hip" as its default mode, into a teeming mess of a mosh pit. The crowd looked like they wanted to rip the band, and each other, to pieces. Out of love. It was a very entertaining spectacle from the wings.
These kids are sooooo serious! I know they want to make it an intense and harrowing concert experience, but it can't help but be adorable, like kittens on the hunt.
If you look very closely here, you'll see the concentrated speed and impact with which a burly punk dude's head meets the stage once sufficiently hip-checked.