All points converged on Real Estate last night. After a weeks-long holiday-induced concert dry spell, it’s as if everyone finally rung in the musical New Year at Brooklyn Bowl. With a New York Times article about the venue published the very same day, it felt like everyone who lives in Brooklyn, plus many of those who don’t, came out of their wintry cocoons to see Real Estate for free. Not only were all the prettiest kiddies out and about in their hippest duds, but so were members of Titus Andronicus, The Hold Steady, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Das Racist, and even John Norris. It’s hard to describe, but last night really felt like a thing. I think Real Estate knew it, too. Coming off of an incredibly successful 2009 that was capped off with their inclusion in Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of the Year (not to mention this blog’s list), the band seemed like they weren’t expecting to play to such a large crowd. Martin Courtney was incredibly nervous, while the rest of the band did their best to carry along the swells and crests of their songs as they normally do. Eventually, everything settled together and they started kicking out their usual calibre of pleasant but noisy rock n roll jams. One of the highlights was a particularly rocking version of Ducktails’ “The Mall.” It was strange to see them play in such a large venue, especially because their music seems to come from the ephemeral place that is a “garage in New Jersey.” Still, it felt like a triumphant night for Real Estate, and it will be interesting to see how far their not-quite-completely-accessible music can take them.
Babies were excellent. A friend and I saw them a few months ago at Death By Audio and were both impressed last night by how much they’ve improved. They’ve tightened their songs, written some great new ones, and really hammered out an updated 70s American punk, fun, dance-along sound. I absolutely loved them. Their music sparkles, and Vivian Girls’ Cassie is a burgeoning indie rock babe for the ages. With an “I don’t care” voice and “I don’t care” good looks to match, she could only improve if she lost just a touch of that affected hipster cool and let go a little more on stage. You’d never know it from Vivian Girls, but in the context of Babies, I think she has Kim Gordon potential. I’m sure it will only be a matter of weeks before we hear they’ve signed to some excellent label. Their best song at both Death By Audio and last night was “Meet Me In the City,” which you can download below all the photos.