NYC online music institution East Village Radio turns five this year, and after a day’s delay due to tropical storm Hanna, a party was had yesterday at the Seaport to celebrate. The fest went from afternoon ’til night, spanning two stages (one at Pier 17, the other at the newish art gallery @Seaport around the corner), although I was on hand primarily to catch the slate of bands bookended by Slumberland revivalists Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts (with a couple BTWs in between).
Of the new blood: both Vivian Girls and the Stilts have earned slots in heavy rotation here for remarkable debut albums, although the buzz yesterday rang loudest for Crystal Stilts, who packed the @Seaport room to capacity. The echoing, moody garage stuff worked well in those confined quarters, Brad Hargett’s heavy-lidded ruminations recalling Ian Curtis in more than one way, the band bringing out glum post punk and the Shop Assistants (or, fill in the C86-era blank) in others. I liked the equally reverbed Vivian Girls, too, although their live show isn’t quite yet as essential as is their tuneful, J&MC pop/surf rocking record (their loss of Frankie — whose literally upstanding drum work helps drive Crystal Stilts full-time these days — is felt).
High Places were great as always. A hip-hop loving security guard as their set started to the tropical beat collage of “Vision’s The First…“: “If that girl starts rhyming I’ll cry.” She didn’t, at least not quite as he hoped, but security dude seemed pretty transfixed anyway. Dan Friel’s set also came at the indoor @Seaport space, and while his set up of three-octave Casio, Christmas lights, and effects-pedal-assortment likely struck casual passersby as quintessential Brooklyn bullshit, his work is far from it: Friel makes it happen live, triggering keyboard tones and twisting them into a melodic and hyperactive synth-based brew. (Besides, the guy kills it within the traditional instrumentation of his main gig with Parts & Labor.)
Also on the dancecard: The Daily Show correspondent John Oliver tooling on America and getting away with because he has a British accent and because he’s funny (also a bit on how the Olympics’ opening ceremonies proved there’s at least one great thing about human abuse violations: “Now we know what Cirque de Soleil would look like if only we could take a stick to their backs”), and KRS-One acting his part as the Teacher: still teaching. Sadly I missed Boris, but it wouldn’t have been the first time I saw the gong this year. Some pics, and some MP3s…
Here’s a download platter to catch you up on why we love these guys and girls:
If you are in the NYC area but missed the fest, there’s a chance to check in with the Crystla Stilts buzz, alongside a set from the ever great High Places, this Thursday night at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker) as part of the eMusic Selects series. Ticket info here.