Notes Tagged ‘Matt and Kim’

Pitchfork Fest ’09: We Miss Being Ruffians

July 21st, 2009

Pitchfork’s festival has always fought the good fight to rise above the internet buzz of the now and host emergent, top-notch tuneage. Bursts of unbridled true colors have been spotted the past four years (see fire marshals suppressing the onstage parties of Girl Talk and Dan Deacon), and this year was no exception.

Aside from the media shitstorm that is Wavves, and the photographer-shunning set the duo sludged through mid-afternoon, Saturday was full of affirming sets that left crowds and artists confused. Opener Cymbals Eat Guitars are just starting to see the light outside of their New York garage, and yet could not comprehend how triumphantly they killed the Pavement-ethos of hit single, “And The Hazy Sea.”  Meanwhile, Beirut’s Zach Condon quipped that the audience was the largest his dear ukulele had ever seen, before witnessing a few interesting souls crowd-surf in synch to baroque waltzes from Gulag Orkestar.  

I could ruminate how the music industry is so completely privatized that there will forever be a yearn to communally appreciate artists at large-scale festivals like this. But really, Saturday was Pitchfork concretely evolving into one of the best destination festivals around, complete with every division of taste and tastemaker.

The evolution of the festival has certainly not always been the almighty finger-on-the-pulse. Yoko Ono in 2007? The woman wasted a good half-hour of people’s attention teaching the audience how to say “I love you” with a flashlight. But capped by The National’s brooding, Viking guitar voyages, supported by an ear-to-ear smile session in drum-and-organ pop from Matt and Kim, DOOM’s purebred hip-hop and a retro-punk stage destruction from the Black Lips, Saturday was the sound of attention being rewarded.

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Siren ’07 – Saving the Free

July 23rd, 2007

Word on New York’s Coney Island boardwalk this year was that the world famous hot dog staple would be torn down and shadowed by condos. Though it’s a half-truth — see the evil Thor Equities and their renovation plans — The Village Voice‘s 7th annual music festival was, once again, all sunshine and free rock on Saturday (July 21).

Save for Sri Lankan-bred hip-hop political firecracker, M.I.A., and her Missy Elliott-like thumps and whoops, the bill was literally a rock affair, with the timeless original punks New York Dolls at the top of the pile. Lead singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain ate up their prime time slot on the main stage, launching backward summersault guitar solos and speaker stack jumps during classics like “Personality Crisis” and “Looking for a Kiss,” and a cover from their “favorite group,” Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.”

Meanwhile, bleeding-heart hipsters flocked to the second stage to catch other headlining act, Cursive. With their horn-heavy rock of the cathartic kind, mass screams by the audience and singer Tim Kasher alike redefined the meaning of ‘Siren,’ something of which ex-Pumpkin James Iha decided to show up for, being all emo in the press pit. In between tracks, Kasher took time to reiterate what a drag it would be if Coney Island gets gentrified, supporting the words with their satirical stab at the American Dream, “Dorothy at Forty.”

But the pre-sunset rockness is what made Siren 2007 really memorable, especially before the VIP section was over max capacity and we could actually acquire a beer without throwing elbows. Highlights included hometown Brooklyn sweethearts Matt and Kim just beaming ear-to-ear smiles over crowd-surfers and heaving chests, their Quasi-like energy so infectious, fans lunged themselves onstage to catch a hug.

Philly psych rockers Dr. Dog, who saw the hottest part of the day, cursed the fest for making everyone sweat, but proceeded to hop around in fedoras and no shoes, ditching their Beach Boy doo-wop for mid-90’s Pavement era cuts like on their cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races.”

And then there were the Detroit Cobras, who seemed to have transported themselves directly from the Motor City’s dingiest dive bar, choppin’ up speed blues covers that felt odd without a barstool to kick over or a bottle to smash. Chain-smoking frontwoman Rachel Nagy pointed out between drags that they “have Coney Islands in Detroit, but they’re hot dogs…with chili,” and that we didn’t “look like a hot dog with chili.” To continue with their infatuation with hot dogs, they went straight into one of their only original cuts, “Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat).”

Both the White Rabbits and We Are Scientists deserve honorable mentions for playing the power-indie card to a sea of early-day passer-bys and doubling their audience by way of pure knee-buckling power chords and harmonies, rather than stage antics.

But otherwise, Siren ’07, though kind of a homogeneous bill this year, rallied another diverse set of New Yorkers for one of the only free festivals in the country. Here’s to battling Thor and keeping the carnival freak show fun alive.

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