Over the past five years, Brooklyn indie label Captured Tracks has delivered a meticulously curated output, from superstars-in-their-own-right DIIV, Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, and Mac DeMarco to reissues of ’80s UK indie pop luminaries like the Cleaners From Venus and the Wake with a legion of other artists in between. So it was more than deserving when label founder Mike Sniper and the rest of the staff took to Bushwick, Brooklyn venue the Well to celebrate all that they’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. The festivities kicked off on Saturday (8/31) afternoon with clear skies, contrary to the weather report, and a lineup full of bands who sonically could not embody the sunny, breezy day more.
John Peña, formerly of Beach Fossils, and his outfit Heavenly Beat kicked of the day. They had an unfortunate rocky start that played out more like a band practice than a show for fans, mainly due to a power outage that was not their fault, but that seemingly affected the rest of the performance with Peña cutting songs before their finish and giving off an air of discomfort for the rest of the set. Chris Cohen’s indie rock Don Henley picked up the afternoon before MINKS, who released their album Tides End at the beginning of August. The New Wave-informed band brought an energy that would continue to ascend for the right of the night, as well. While the original lineup listed post-punk thrillers the Soft Moon as the follow-up, they were not present. This was a total bummer, but having Blouse take their place — allowing for a special guest on day two — kept the carefree sonics in check.
And if there’s anyone in the Captured Tracks family who is the embodiment of carefree, it’s Canadian troubadour Mac DeMarco, who launched into his set like a consummate professional, slickly introducing himself and his bandmates before the performance. He played “Ode To Viceroy,” sang other songs about his love for the Canadian smokes, and waggled his tongue on stage both as if he was taunting like a rockstar and also as if he was so deep into his performance that he couldn’t help it. Let that be a lesson to you, Miley. He concluded the set with “My Kind Of Woman” and the same covers medley we saluted earlier this summer before bringing his girlfriend and Sniper up on stage for “Still Together” before DIIV ended the evening.
Edmonton upstart Alex Calder and synth duo Soft Metals started off day two, but there was a palpable curiosity about who would be the special guest. There was a bit of chatter that perhaps Sky Ferreira would perform, but as Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur, Zachary Cole Smith, the weekend’s emcee Matt Kallman (whose dad jokes became increasingly more endearing each between-set-banter spiel), and Mac DeMarco took the stage, it became even more of a head-scratcher before revealing itself as a CT supergroup. Performing as Shitfather, the collection of label signees performed tracks like the Cleaners From Venus’ “Only A Shadow,” the Wake’s “Pale Spectre,” and a couple from Blank Dogs. The massive jam was also joined by members of Craft Spells for a few songs and Cole Smith dressed as Blouse vocalist Charlie Hilton for a track. The tangibility of their pleasure extended beyond just a bunch of like-minded musicians getting to rock out together — it was clear they were beyond thrilled to celebrate the label that got them to be where they are now. When it was over, Cole Smith said, “We had more fun than you did.”
Shitfather was followed up by an airy set from the folksy Widowspeak and they offered up a few new tunes from an upcoming EP. Beach Fossils played the penultimate set of the festival, supplying the crowd with the moshiest set of the weekend. It was the first time crowd surfers were caught by the audience, including Payseur, who launched himself into the crowd and generated a docile pit for “Clash The Truth.” He also provided one of the emotional speeches of the weekend, dedicating their set to his fiancée Katie Garcia, the label manager of Captured Tracks, a display that showed the Captured Tracks community is more robust than we even know, noting, “We’re getting married soon. That’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.” Between him and DeMarco, and Cole Smith, who almost never was without Ferreira by his side, that’s a roster full of dudes in love. Tatum and Wild Nothing ended the weekend, opening with the triumvirate “Golden Haze,” “Only Heather,” and “Shadow,” and continued his energized set with Gemini and Nocturne cuts.
With a lineup of such sun-and-sunset-primed, hazy bands, Captured Track’s fifth birthday party was perfect for the final weekend of summer. Here’s to five more.