Long live rock, I need it every night

Monday, July 20, 2009

Siren Music Festical 2009: The Recap

Andrew, our Senior Youth Correspondent, trekked to Coney Island for the ninth annual Siren Music Festival on Saturday. Here's his report:

Siren Fest
July 18, 2009
Coney Island, NY

I stuck with the Main Stage despite Potsy's grumbling about "indie rock roots" at the Stillwell Stage. Getting up close was not an issue, it just took a little nudging of the almost entirely Wayfarer-ed crowd. Frank Black walked by me on the boardwalk, I foolishly (or wisely) did not chase him down for a photograph. In order of my viewing:


This punk duo from Vancouver, BC put on a show that was high on energy but low on good music. My cousin played me some of their record the night before the show and I liked what I heard. Live the next day, I just couldn't get into many of the songs. Occasionally a song would be captivating but too often Japandroids let it die in an abyss of awkwardly placed feedback or drum soloing. Most of the songs were down-stroked guitar and full force drum numbers with vocals slightly out of key as is often the trend with this genre. The crowd seemed fairly responsive despite the lack of interesting song writing and the two dudes in the band seemed the most into playing their set of any group I saw. I think the large bottle of Jagermeister they passed between themselves throughout their roughly 40 min set at some point stopped being a fun accessory to rockin' and started screwing up their singing, which got pretty dreadful towards the end. Compared to other lo fi punk two pieces like No Age or Wavves, Japandroids just did not make it happen for me. Points for energy and interaction with the crowd though.

Frightened Rabbit

In a reversal of my record/live experience with Japandroids, Frightened Rabbit impressed me. I listened to almost all of their last album on my friend's iPod during the bus ride from DC to NY and was struggling to find a second track that was "kind of O.K." On stage however this band did a great job. Songs that bored the hell out of me on the record came across vital and well planned. The singer was a Ewan McGregor look alike with a pretty strong Scottish accent that only rarely got annoying. Their set drew heavily on The Midnight Organ Fight, the band's full length. The drummer pulled off some pretty impressive stuff, all the while with a demonic look on his face. While this band did not knock me on my ass or anything, they were a pleasure to watch and certainly an improvement from Japandroids (a trend that continues). Check these guys out if you are in the mood for a Braveheart version of Band of Horses.

The Raveonettes

It's funny that I said I didn't care about the Raveonettes in my preview post, because it turns out they are a really good band. Maybe funny isn't the right word...ironic? Bone-headed? Anyways having never listened to them before, it was quite an experience getting my first taste of them in a live setting. The Velvet Underground plus Nico was the first thing that came to mind as they started their reverb soaked set. Like the Velvet Underground, most tunes consisted of three chords with a short solo in the middle. Their drummer, who played all of two drums while standing, had about as much variation in his rhythm as a the dinner menu in Little Miss Sunshine (It's always the fucking chicken). I give them credit for getting so many solid pop songs out of two guitars playing less than five chords, a human metronome, and a lethargic and porn-stached bassist. As far playing the same drum beat and chord progression for most the set goes, I would normally say "that's bad" or something to that effect, but the Raveonettes made it work so for that I shall say "don't mess with what works." Front woman Sharin Foo was quite a looker and I was only slightly peeved when I looked for a ring and saw one. Points for awesome music, minus points for not being single, Sharin.

Built to Spill

Some people were talking about things in the preview post comments. Things like "Don't even bother with Built to Spill" or "Built to Spill is a yawn." To those people I would now like to pause and say "Fuck you, sir/madam, for you are incorrect." Built to Spill killed it! Finally a band whose records I love and whose live performance was just as good. Interaction with the crowd was minimal as was movement of the musicians, but come on, these dudes aren't spring chickens anymore. They kicked off the night with "Liar", the first bars of which got a great response from the crowd. It was nice being around people somewhat close to my age who not only new who the band was but who appeared to love them as much as I did. "Strange" was a pretty big deal when they played it, the guitar solos and shredding got epic, but in a good, indie rock way, not like hair metal or anything. People had been screaming for "Carry the Zero" from the get go, so I was pumped when they played it as their last song; it's one of my personal faves. The only disappointing part of the set were two young women standing near me in the crowd. Instead of saying they were sloppily drunk, I will say the had bubbly personalities. What I really should have said: "Hi there. That's a great little dance you and your friend are doing, and I think you should keep doing it. But do you think you could scratch the step where you guys ram your elbows into my lower back over and over?" Everyone near me cheered when they got pushed into the real mosh pit.

All in all, a worthwhile trip to one of the freakiest beaches in America.


Unknown said...

dear youth correspondent,

i'm sorry you missed all of the good bands (except built to spill, who were indeed pretty fuckin' great). better luck next time.

Jumbo Slice said...

Nice recap. It's too bad you weren't able to catch the all-powerful FOTL but it sounds like you had a good time nonetheless. I give you credit for keeping your spot in the crowd for that long.

Your post has inspired me to fire up some Built To Spill on the headphones.