Day1 (in association with w/ Todd P)
Blood on the Wall
The 2nd annual East River Music Project takes place at the East River amphitheater, which is infamous for its appearance in the cult film Wild Style. Back then it was covered in graffiti and looked the way New York felt in the 70’s. Then strangely enough ABC television network gave Erin Brockovich four million dollars and six days to fix the amphitheater as part of a television special. The graffiti is gone and the space is spic and span. Sorta how our Mayor wants us to feel about New York today.
The place has the potential to rock. The Greeks knew entertainment, and styled after the architecture of that period there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Hopefully New Yorkers will make good use of this renovated venue.
There were empty seats when the first band started but they quickly filled up. And why not? This was a perfect way to start the summer. And it is hard not to have fun at an outdoor music fest.
It was a beautiful day, the price was right, FREE, and it turned out the quality of music proved to be worth it. Many shouts of thanks have to go out to all the organizers, city parks groups and especially the bands for putting on such a show.
The first four acts were a showcase in up coming underground talent. While the ‘headliner’ was a funk band of professional caliber that brought that thing- that thang when the horn guys shake their heads in unison and the guitar dances with the ease of the seven veils done down in Detroit. It was the art of thou funk.
Not only can you easily see the stage from every seat, but you also get a view of the passing boats on the East River, and if you strain your eyes a bit you can see the industrial outline of Williamsburg, which is fitting considering the first band on was Blood On The Wall who hail from Brooklyn.
Blood On The Wall are young and talented and they rock the American Independent music bible criteria 1988. They sound like Poster Children with power riffs and look like plumbers with guitars. And they worship at the feet of Sir Black Francis. It all seems relevant with the Pixies comeback tour making the rounds.
The second band up was Measles Mumps Rubella. They had their album recorded by Ian Mackaye, which made me wonder if Ian is still straight edge, or if this band is straight edge or what, because a little booze could have helped the whole affair.
The sound coming off the stage is a strained boogie- woogie with the laces untied. At any second the band is about to trip and fall. And I think they need to do a beer bong and stumble and loosen up their post punk Gang of Four tunes. The singer bangs a drum and uncomfortably contorts his body to the beat, I wonder if he is a liability or the only thing worth listening to or watching. And decide on the later.
Aa is bang the drum, plonk the programming fits of explosion. They set up at the base of the stands, not even bothering to get up on stage and they start to play an infectious multi-percussion (and a plastic water bottle) free flow jam. There are shouts and screams and it makes wonderful sense. It is music that has its groove on, even though there aren’t any actual songs. But it doesn’t matter. The energy is high and these guys could be the American answer to the Beta Band if they can get a little structure to rein in the vast possibilities of the sound escapes I’m sure live deep in their conscious.
Aa have a Krautrock groove, more Can than Kraftwerk. They sound like a Sun Ra orchestration playing Public Image Limited. Look out Rapture you have some competition. And here I thought Excepter was the newest New York noise trickster.
White Magic is a three piece with the front woman, Mira Billote being the star. Her voice is beautiful, slow and heartfelt, the band matches her talent with down to earth ability. White Magic sound fresh and new and a lot like Mazzy Star.
Then comes the last group, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. As they take the stage I was worried I was in for some sub par world music because half the band have dodgy beards. But like normal, I was wrong. Dap Kings is funk and soul. And Sharon, who used to play with James Brown, is a fireball of expression. Her voice soars, her booty shakes and persona and presence cannot be ignored. Their funkified version of This Land Is Our Land is the highlight of the afternoon.
And then as the sun starts to set it is over. It’s a great afternoon out. This was the first day in a four part series. ERMP could do worse than to match the fun of the opening.