Sunday, July 18, 2010

Siren Music Festival 2010: Matt & Kim, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Surfer Blood, Screaming Females

Siren Music Festival 2010: Matt & Kim, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Surfer Blood, Screaming Females
@ Coney Island
Brooklyn, NY - July 17, 2010

It was another brutally hot and obnoxiously crowded Siren fest, fitting for the 10th go-round. But unlike any of the few I've been to before, this one had an all-day worthy line-up on one of the stages and though this year was partially billed as a unique year in which previous performers were brought back, it was all essentially fresh and new to me and it made for the best damn Siren fest I've ever been to.

I have known of the Screaming Females for some time now but I have never give them the time of the day. I had it on good authority that I was missing something special. That the guitar chops and vocals of Marissa Paternoster were of another game entirely, that most musicians are just kicking the can around compared to her. I passed up every opportunity to find out whether this was true. The time to find out came at 2PM on July 17, 2010 in the shadow of the Cyclone. And all that was told before proved to be true. Almost like selling a religion but having the proof to actually make converts, this is the essence, the awesome power, of the Screaming Females. Paternoster's guitar is up there with the guitarists in the bands that I tend to never stop liking and never stop going on about. The fact that the bass and drums are excellent compliments only solidify the deal. The fact that this is how the day started, with this fairly rookie prospect, lent the day the makings of a narrative...

Surfer Blood had a catchy song last year with "Swim (to Reach the End)". They proved to have other songs that were just as catchy. Unfortunately, the one time I saw them was at a CMJ show at Brooklyn Bowl that took too long to set-up and then had tech problems. All that can be forgotten now as the nice Florida boys in Surfer Blood played a very fun, very deft set at Siren. Their excellent (and wild-haired) percussionist kept the whole thing moving along while riffs and melodies abounded. The lead singer (John Paul Pitts I believe?) has a sharp, distinct voice that has a bit of 80's Brit and even a bit of Elvis thrown in. Elvis plus tropical-inspired rock can riskily make one think of "Clambake" but thankfully the gang pulls it off.

After a brief stop home with the Sonic Parthenon crew for lunch, the second half of Siren 2010 began with the now established titans of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Not content to have had just one album to be remembered by, the Pains are plotting to give us a second, led by the shattering single "Say No to Love". Creatively, the Pains seem to have zeroed in on a small set of themes, riffs, chords, and jangles but they are making the most of them. One of my cohorts at Siren this year was DJ Rez from Thor and his take on the Pains was that they while they could play it loud and fast, they are really a pop music act and by nature are very gentle no matter what else they may try to do. So I retorted "Camera Obscura turned to 11". I didn't think of a High Fidelity-style mentioning of the Jesus and Mary Chain to win the day but that was because the heat was getting to me.

The narrative of Siren 2010 came to catharsis with Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Much like with the babes-in-the-woods Screaming Females, I have never taken the time to listen to the long-toiling, much-respected Ted Leo. In hindsight, now having seen him play, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It was so illogical as to be shameful. But perhaps we can fix that now. What a show! A few songs merited a bit more defining, there was a hardcore sound here, a poppy sound there but by and large, Ted Leo is straight-up, no messing around, can't call it anything else, but ROCK AND ROLL. I haven't had that much fun watching and listening to a band that wasn't the same handful of my favorites in a looooong time. And by loooong time I mean the Screaming Females from four hours before. But before that, it's been a real long time. The narrative came to an end when Marissa from Screaming Females joined Ted and the band on stage for one wild number. There they were - the vet and the rook - bookends of a damned good Siren festival - each making rock n roll that I have neglected for too long and can't neglect anymore.

Oh yeah Matt & Kim. Uhhh...doesn't really fit into the story here...hmmm...ok....cutsie poo song "Daylight" is fun...cutsie poo look and antics has its appeal...nice live set (with the Biz Markie cover, that was nice)...don't quite get the rabid popularity but it's not insane or totally without merit...hey let's get more Nathans!

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