Dinosaur Feathers are a big surprise. As a dino-phile, I expect to certain things from fans, such as complete and accurate Jurassic Park references at their disposal, comparable tattoos, and a childlike reverence for the vast unknown. What I didn’t expect were heavy drums, screechy vocals, fabulous attitudes and insatiable energy. It may have been my first day, but Dinosaur Feathers could easily go home as my favorite festival stumble upon since Anathallo at Coachella 2008.
What is it about bands from Brooklyn that make everything about life bigger, noisier and more fun? I’d like to imagine Dinosaur Feathers, Matt & Kim, and Fang Island all hopping around a Wonka music factory, boinging off sheer walls of sound, giggling and crashing into one another on a glorious noise binge, on their quest to find the funnest job in the world. This secret music factory exists, I know it! Maybe in Greenpoint. It’s the only explanation for the un-ironic joy, unapologetic pop, and unparalleled energy that the Brooklyn scene in privy to these days. Let’s welcome Dinosaur Feathers with open arms OK? On the count of 3… 1! 2! 3! GO!
Trombone Shorty was a band I’d been beholden to seeing by a close friend and New Orleans resident since I announced my covering of the festival. And that’s fine. I love me some brass, and trombone is my favorite – the cello of the horn section, I always say. Plus anyone who can make the oft-overlooked “brump” machine the centerpiece of his musical direction is worth a look-see.
Turns out, there are not enough good things to be said about these dudes. They are cool. The coolest cats, the heaviest cats, the dopest, gnarliest, wildest cats in the big bad jungle. The bari sax growled and shrieked, and the tenor tap danced on top. The drummer was indefatigable while the percussionist clearly had at least thirteen hands. The bass was loud and dirty, and the guitarist was almost too good. Like, one more note and he would have literally just been too good.
And Trombone Shorty himself is first of all, fine. So be prepared for that going in – this band is lead by a flawless looking man who’s good at everything and really seems to love music.
He can make a trombone dance (and this is a regular slide he’s working with, no tricky valves) and I mean get up on its feet, kick up its heels and cut a rug. That’s a delight for an instrument notoriously laborious to play. He lays the smackdown on the trumpet as well, holding notes for longer than I can hold my breath underwater, and he can sing. He’s a great singer too, but it pales next to his beefy command of the horns and his admirable band leadership skills. Become a fan now, and you will never stop dancing.
MATT AND KIM:
Matt & Kim make me sad. They’re so much fun that all I can think is, Why aren’t we friends yet? We would get along famously, the three of us, and I’m an excellent third wheel. I’m the perfect addition when you want me, and gone like a fox when you don’t. The thing is I am clearly not the only one who feels this way. Matt & Kim shows are crawling with their friends. It’s like this huge pool of BFF’s they’ve never met.
This is part of the accidental genius of Matt & Kim. I say accidental not to rob hem of any credit, but because their whole “thing,” their vibe, their special something seems too natural to be contrived. Could it be that everybody hearts them so much because they have the bloody courage to be themselves? Can they really achieve that without any sense of irony or after school special-ness?
Matt & Kim’s genuine enthusiasm is wildly infectious, so that any request from Kim (“Blow up these balloons with your mouths and throw them at each other!” “Lift me in the air so I can dance on your hands!” “Take off your shirts!”) was answered in seconds. Seconds. She could have said, “March into the Hilton and punch all the people wearing staff shirts in the face!” and her will be done.
But she would never say that because they haven’t a wicked bone in their collective bodies. And besides, we’re all friends here.
Stars are solid. There’s not a lot of stage dressing time in festival land, as it’s kind of a mad rush to get lights and sound running smoothly in the fifteen minutes before you play. But these seasoned cuties go the extra mile and festoon amps, monitors and other available flat surfaces with dozens of roses that they intermittently toss to legions of fans.
That’s the kind of band Stars is: sweet, genuine, cheerfully flawed, like the handwritten thank you card of indie rock. Aside from the flowers, they gifted their audience with a never before heard song (presumably from an upcoming album – yeeee!) that featured Amy Millan’s vocal wail high above her normal Irish mother bedtime coo for which Stars is famous.
If you ever attend a Girl Talk show where the fans aren’t dancing on the stage waving miscellaneous pieces of decoration or trash and giant inflatable props aren’t being tossed around in the pit and everyone isn’t dancing/jumping/freaking out then you’re not at a Girl Talk show.
What happens in their brains that shines the light on the notion that it would be a good idea to mash up Phoenix with Busta Rhymes? As far as I can tell that sort of insight can only come from long term usage of potent South American drugs or plain divine intuition. What makes it OK to have Luda’s “Get Low” morph into “Bohemian Rhapsody?”
Don’t know, don’t care, just gonna wave my toilet paper in the air.
Ladytron look really cool. They sound cool too, and their live performance was rather flawless, but their visual impact is striking. In this way, they’re more of a multi-media experience than a traditional band, as so many things are dependent on other elements. Helen Marnie’s status as frontwoman was maintained by her stark white silk bat sleeved blouse and overlarge headdress, and the spookiness of their sound enhanced by the laser show lighting design.
I can’t imagine them every performing when the sun is up, and I imagine they don’t even emerge until the threat of UV rays has long disappeared.
If you like the goth/synth/dance sound then you already love them, and if you don’t, go see them anyway. You still get a laser show with vampires in awesome clothes and by the time they come out at night, you’ll be so high it will all sound fabulous.
Rivers Cuomo is so weird. And might I say, thank god. I haven’t seen Weezer live in a long time, so I don’t know when the transformation took place, if it was gradual or sudden, natural or designed, but he’s definitely morphed from a weird guy unsure of why you’re looking at him or where to put his hands into a weird guy unsure of why you’re looking at him or where to put his hands – and PROUD OF IT!
Rather than hide behind his guitar, mic, and sweater, he boldly climbed off the stage and into, around and through the crowd to sing “Troublemaker” from…somewhere. I lost him, but I’m sure he made some fans in the back’s day. He then proceeded to steal somebody’s gigantic straw hat, demand a band-aid from a roadie for “the tiny cut on my little pinky that’s bleeding,” and sit on the edge of the stage dangling his New Balances so they straddled the shoulders of a volunteer security guard.
In short, he is a delight.
And Weezer are just as awesome as ever, perhaps even more so. I remember being impressed with their ability to sound exactly like the recording, perfectly polished. Perhaps it was the beach party vibe, or maybe they’re all more comfortable with themselves, but this sounded like a real live show. Some grit, some distorted notes, some cracks, but all in the name of going for it. They even traded song singer duties and instruments, something only very talented friends can do.
Infuriatingly, the band did not play one riff off of Pinkerton. I thought their foray last year had lifted the curse, but I was wrong. However, their stirring renditions of Green Album hits “Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe” actually had eating my words. Those tunes are great! “Beverly Hills” still sucks, but these guys are rock heroes – not magicians.
I would also like to take this time to point out that Brian Bell is the most dapper man on the planet, and he can pull off a black watch plaid suit with a fat burgundy polka dot tie while wielding a silver guitar. All men should strive to look this killer. Except you, Rivers. We like you just the way you are, windbreaker and wallet chain and all – not that you’d give a flying fuck what we think anyway.