I should probably be out at the Northside Festival right now brining you more coverage of the weekend’s festivities. I am, however, a little too festivitied out. Nevertheless, I saw some great music this weekend at Brooklyn’s mini music fest. Here’s a brief recap.
Friday night brought me to Studio B for the first time, a very cool venue nestled on an out-of-the-way street in Williamsburg. The first band I caught was an extremely cool, extremely different three piece called Elfin Saddle. Their music is definitely inspired by Asian scales and instruments, and the amount of sound they produce with just a few drums, a stand-up bass, and an accordion is surprising. They were a different kind of band, and my friend Anna was even inspired enough by their tunes to buy a cd. Worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them before and are down for something different. I was incredibly excited to see Sunset Rubdown, as their new album is pretty darn great and they usually put on a stunning live show. The set was unfortunately riddled with sound problems that the band had little control over. They didn’t handle it as well as they could have, but still pushed through the set. At the end of the day, though, it simply wasn’t their best, and that’s that.
Saturday afternoon I headed to Trophy Bar in Bushwick for the Hooves On the Turf showcase. Hooves On the Turf is an excellent music blog that you should definitely check out. The woman who writes it is a talented photographer with great taste, plus she has a seriously cool video series called Secret Garden. I walked into a set by Luke Winslow-King a trio of guitar, tuba, and washboard. I liked the antique, radio-days tunes that I heard and they got the day off to a good start. Next up was Gracious Calamity, a guitar and ukulele duo. After that Glass Ghost played a set, which I found to be fairly mediocre keyboard-based tunes. I stayed for a rousing, nearly acoustic set by Drink Up Buttercup, who I’ve never seen play a show that was any less than astounding. Why they aren’t selling out Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom yet is a mystery to me.
After a dinner break, it was back to Studio B for Bishop Allen. I like their albums, but didn’t have terribly high hopes for the group live. I thought of them more as a pleasant throw-away sort of pop band. I was dead wrong, because their live show was one of the most flat-out enjoyable sets of music I’ve seen in a long time. They’re truly good performers who know how to command a stage. Christian Rudder’s compact, quick guitar playing combined with the rich acoustic strumming of Justin Rice produces a brightly thick noise that provides the perfect framework for the rest of the band to hang rocking pop melodies and hooks onto. I was smiling the entire time, and I can’t tell you the last time I felt that way when watching a band. They’re able to communicate a deeper feeling in their songs that doesn’t always come out on their records. I was utterly charmed.
I ended the day at Public Assembly to catch Bell and Death Vessel. Bell’s electronic pop was just as good as it was at Mercury Lounge a few weeks ago. I couldn’t stay for all of Death Vessel’s set, but Joel Thibodeau must have one of the most unique and compelling voices in indie today. Check for mp3s from many of the bands at the end of the post.
Drink Up Buttercup:
Bell (Photos by Jeremy Freeman):