This past weekend was all about the USA, and nothing says America quite like a day full of shitgaze in a graffitied, degenerated yard under some train tracks in Bushwick (or “East Williamsburg,” if your real estate agent is shady). The rosters of the Woodsist and Captured Tracks labels joined lo-fi forces with Todd P for a two-day outdoor festival this past Independents weekend, but since the threat of rain on Friday moved that day’s action into the sweltering DIY space Market Hotel, our attendance was limited to Independence day proper. But even getting just one day’s slate of bands hardly felt like settling, on a lineup that represented a sizable swath of a buzzy scene’s buzziest artists.
More so than your average music festival, where you can expect a different aesthetic with every band, the resoundingly lo-fi Woodsist/Captured Tracks fest was a fun one to analyze the interstitial house music. Two to note: 1) Grateful Dead. Awesome, and at first surprising, but ultimately not without its place: not after hearing Woods and Real Estate stretch their fuzzed and echoed melodies into considerably wanky but compelling instrumental jams, and not after hearing the San Francisco psych-pop presented by The Fresh & Onlys. And 2) Guided By Voices. I mean, obviously. The godfathers. It would be blasphemous not to. Hearing “Tractor Rape Chain” sparked as much conversation as hearing “Eyes Of The World”, the GBV gist being: There’s lo-fi scuzz as a costume, or borne out of production necessity, but in the end as with any “sound,” it’s about the songs. Pollard had the songs.
And that’s where previously loved acts like Kurt Vile, Woods, Ganglians, Real Estate, and Vivian Girls showed their mettle: scrape off the buckets of fuzzed reverb and there are melodies worth scraping for. Worth noting that each of those bands also have a foot somewhere outside the handy “lo-fi” bin, too: Real Estate with their Galaxie 500 on the beach jams; Woods with their freaky campfire psychedelics and noodling; Ganglians peppering their clatter with Animal Collective whoops, Vivian Girls infusing theirs with shades of Phil Spector. And if not with DNA alien to the lo-fi helix, the best bands sold their songs with flip, goofy enthusiasm, the best surprises coming from the snotty, detuned, infectious two-minute garage bursts of The Beets, the sloppy-pop/military helmets of The German Measles, and the aforementioned Fresh & Onlys.
No festival would be complete without a superjam, of course, and Saturday’s came via the scene’s own little supergroup in Dum Dum Girls. Joining a black-fringed Dee Dee was Blank Dogs’ (and Captured Tracks honcho) Mike Sniper on bass, Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez on guitar and massive beer, and Crystal Stilts Frankie Rose (seated for the occasion) on drums. It looked and sounded like this:
Here’s some more video from the day, thanks to the digicam of Bill Pearis.
THE FRESH & ONLYS