July 21, 2002

Beat Surf Fun

Still recovering from the Siren Music Festival on Coney Island on Saturday which, in spite of being hot, crowded and pretty exhausting, was still a good time. I knew it was going to be a bit of a mob scene going into it, so that helped. As did the sunscreen, water bottle, and shoulder bag for strategic personal-space preservation and people-blocking.

Mary and I got there shortly before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs started on the main stage, but we ended up taking the long way round -- from the secondary stage to along the boardwalk behind the stage, across a walkway which required us to cross Surf Ave (argh), before re-crossing to get to the main stage -- so we actually arrived a little bit into their second song.

[Okay, I was going to write something about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance right here, but in going to the band page where I got that link, I just realized, hey... the name of one of those guys sounds familiar... he even looks familiar... the guitarist... hey! I went to high school with him. He used to be a total Nick Cave-obsessed goth boy. And I have the embarrassing high school yearbook photos to prove it -- bwahahahaha!]

Anyway, in our attempt to get a bit closer to the stage, we ended up behind the soundboard and couldn't see a damn thing, so that was annoying. But what I heard sounded good, spunky-punky, and the little specs of people I was occasionally able to glance up there on the stage seemed to be giving it their all. Quite frankly, I was fixated a bit more on the sun, the heat and humidity and the crush of people all around me. Hundreds of sweaty (many shirtless) people jostling around, jockeying for a better position or better view. Bleargh.

I don't think I could have taken too much more of that, but as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ended, people started streaming away from the stage, so we took the opportunity to move forward to at least get a better view of the next act before deciding whether or not to bail. This ended up being an extremely good idea, as we were able to get a lot closer to the stage (maybe 40 ft away) and, most importantly, found our new area blessed with a cool, steady ocean breeze.

Shortly before the next band, we were treated to a dance routine by The Pontani Sisters, who wiggled and grinned and kicked to "Ca Plane Pour Moi." Cool, I'd been wondering what kind of between-band entertainment there would be.

Next up were The Shins, who were really enjoyable -- love that 60s organ-driven indie rock sound. The middle of their set seemed to drag a bit, but they opened strong and closed things out with a few really solid songs that got people waving their hands in the air. Okay, now I can see why their upcoming show at Maxwell's is sold out.

More people streamed away from the front of the stage, so we pushed our way another 10 ft or so ahead. The breeze had gotten stronger, so even though the crush of people had intensified, it was far more bearable. But then we had to wait 35 goddamn minutes for The Donnas to go on. Every minute waiting was an additional opportunity for even more people to keep filling every spare inch of space around us. And no Pontani Sisters! No nothing but sound guys doing endless mic checks!

Oh, and another thing we both noticed was that as we moved closer and closer to the front of the stage, the median age of the crowd around us seemed to drop precipitously, until we found ourselves, just before the Donnas went on, in the midst of what appeared to be 15- and 16-year-olds. Which is fine in and of itself (I'm not being ageist here), but it did make me wonder if we had unwittingly stepped into the center of what was about to be a mosh pit.

So the Donnas finally went on, amidst much cheering, a chant of "Fuck the Go-Go's" (!) and lewd comments yelled at one or more of the all-female band members. Other than that, everyone stayed pretty calm through the first couple of songs, which were rocking good fun. But it wasn't anything earth-shattering, and we decided to retreat to a less-populated patch of asphalt near the back of the crowd.

Afterward, leaning up against some wooden police barriers well near the back, we were able to enjoy a few more songs -- and even see the band just fine! -- while indulging in some prime people-watching. So I was finally able to spot some people I knew, my friends Douglas and Lisa who were there with some other folks (incl. Patti from the late, great Pest 5000), who'd also decided to take a break from the crowd.

I decided that if I'd had a chair, like the enterprising person directly in front of me, I could have easily stayed for the rest of the event, but my legs were a bit wobbly and my entire self a bit sunstroked, so both decided to call it a day mid-way through the Donnas' set. As a result we missed Sleater-Kinney, but, as the postcard I received in the mail yesterday from Kill Rock Stars reminded me, they are going on tour again shortly so I can always catch them later.

Posted by nstop at July 21, 2002 02:49 AM


Now that is a post!

Posted by: Instant Enemy on July 22, 2002 04:48 PM

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