With the end of summer as we know it approaching comes the conclusion of each and every free concert series. The River to River was one festival I made a habit of going to see at South Street Seaport throughout the summer.
This specific series featured indie bands from all over the US, some of whom weren’t well known and others that were, and catered to a very young and hipster crowd. The space is wonderful; it’s large (can hold thousands), there are bars, food, and street carts nearby, and the view is spectacular. It’s not often you get the chance to spend every Friday night staring at pirate ships and Brooklyn’s skyline while hearing awesome music for free.
Bear In Heaven
Hypnotizing performance from a band I’d heard little about prior to this show. A trio from BK featuring psychedelic sounds, experimental beats, heavy percussion, synthesizers and revolved around the androgens dreamy vocals of the lead singer. Certainly a unique and interesting sound that I cannot successfully parallel to many other bands. In my opinion, their fault is that they can come across as boring. However, commendable is their solid songwriting, which could be (but is not) unoriginal or repetitive. Their best potential come through in “Lovesick Teenagers,” a creepy and taunting commentary on the endless revolution of life.
Best Coast is one of my favorite new artists that made a name for herself in 2009. Of her older releases, Make You Mind 7″ was when she emerged as a powerful voice in the lo-fi scene. Her songs are fun, relatable, and strikingly emotional. More important is her excellent new album, Crazy For You, which shows singer Bethany as a more mature, adventurous and talented songwriter. The most striking innovation I see applied to her newer style-a beautiful and energetic clash of throwback vocals and new-wave surf- is her use of powerful vocal power to create interesting new rhythms rather than being distorted by effect and the guitar. At the seaport, Best Coast seemed kind of shy or unaffected, which I think was a substitute for trying to connect with the crowd in a big way. Her live sound was great and found many sing-a-longers in the crowd, but I was disappointed in her lukewarm energy. Nevertheless, she has sold out shows in NYC since then.
Free Energy is a band you would have trouble hating if you saw them live. Declared “one of the best live bands in America” (rolling stone?) I had no problem clearing my schedule to experience their show, and was not disappointed. There were several aspects that made them so fun- they were extremely personable, the musical performances were album quality, and the sweet camaraderie of the members of the band was undeniable. The music itself is so-so to me- the vocals are unfortunately weak compared to the talent of the instrumentalists. I love the lively indie-goes-south feeling of the album, though at times it feels a bit minimal. Definitely a fun concert, though, and good-time summer music.
So-so buzz band that is most notable because its members are so young. There was not much memorable about the concert, but a band to watch for as their sound grows.
Yacht is a cult band. They claim not to be, but I find very little evidence to the contrary. Their appeal is not just in their music- it is also in their “philosophy.” On their website you can find a commandments-style list of all the things YACHT represents, from a belief in the afterlife to the power of triangles (hey, i’m not arguing) . All that aside, I had certain expectations for the concert- that it would be somehow forcibly spiritual or preachy (With an album entitled, “I Believe in You. Your magic is Real” how could one not?), but was pleasantly surprised to enjoy an (almost) normal show.YACHT’s best quality is the performance- the male lead dressed in a head-to-toe duet (90 degree weather) and the woman lead in a tight black leotard and suit jacket- they certainly did not lack stage presence. The crowd was wild for the layered beats, cartoonishly fun melodies and repetitive chant-like vocals. Their music itself is innovative. Songs like “We’re Always Waiting” and “See a Penny” are fun and stylistically impressive, and despite or because of their strangeness, YACHT is on its way to indie stardom.