The New Pornographers and Grizzly Bear: Eating Indie Rock for Dinner:
Grizzly Bear and the New Pornographers, two bands comfortably considered indie rock staples in their own right, played opposite each other, but the major difference between the two? Age. Choosing between these two was like being situated at the adult table or the kids table during a family holiday dinner.
It was gray hair and cargo shorts at one end, or neon baseball hats and yes, a pretty good amount of kids sporting braces at the other. You could see New Pornographers play the more refined and classic songs -- like having a mature and intimate conversation for the sake of catching up. Or, you could check out Grizzly Bear and endure the curiosity and ingenuity of a table filled with younger kids expressing imagination.
Grizzly Bear was especially impressive, playing "Little Brother" and "Knife" from 2006's Yellow House early on as an introduction to a handful of new material that proved their maturity and pretty-sounding rigidity beyond their relative rookie status.
The Dance Dance Revolution
This year's festival season has proven that sets featuring dance music truly generate that communal, festival spirit. CSS and Girl Talk played back-to-back on the Bullet Stage right before sunset for a one-two punch that proved the normal hipster stand-still crowd can also be an uncontrollable circus.
CSS was nothing short of a technicolor Talking Heads, as if we could have been watching "Stop Making Sense" on psychedelic drugs. And Girl Talk's sonic collage that followed was undeniably the biggest dance party Lady Liberty has ever seen. Greg Gillis' entourage on stage was a glammed out group of a freak show recalling Rocky Horror, and no one really seemed to care about the excess of toilet paper streamers and confetti being chucked into the audience at an eco-friendly festival.
As Girl Talk, Gillis is ultimately expressing his revenge he's an intellect onstage with his funny friends while the popular kids below are commanded by his computer chops, not realizing essentially a nerd is responsible for the time of their lives and from this perspective, revenge is sweet.
The British Are...Well, They're Already Here
It was a day of well-rounded balance among what the British have to offer as some of their best. The Duke Spirit played early in the day in a set all too short filled with their engaging and slow-building energetic mix of brooding art school angst and '60s sensibilities a la the Velvet Underground and Nico. Lead singer Liela Moss seemed at home center-stage while shaking a tambourine above dense and driving guitars from her band populated by boys.
Recent SPIN cover girl Duffy has unquestionably evolved into everyone's angelic version of Amy Winehouse, and her lightness radiates live as a confirmation. She kept everyone hanging until her finale of the hit song "Mercy," but in the process proved her stage presence by playfully shimmying and softshoeing in time across the entire platform while the audience pretty much followed suit.
A little later the British brought us back to their darker tones with a performance from the multimedia denizens of Underworld, providing quintessential techno sounds from the Trainspotting era. Fans feared they'd be out of their element by performing in broad daylight, but it turned out to be just as easy to drown in the electronic vortex. Ultimately, "Born Slippy" sounds awesome at any time of day, even a CGI-perfect one like Friday.
When the sun set, it was obvious the day revolved around Radiohead's return to the picturesque site they previously played seven years ago, barely a month before the towers fell. In fact, in asking around, there might not be a more fondly remembered two-night stand in the minds of longer-term New York area residents, many of whom were clearly repeat attendees this time around, part of an impenetrable sea of people, a massive religious gathering before Thom Yorke's simply impeccable tenor.
The set was a slow build from regularities to rarities, segueing seamlessly from big hits and In Rainbows songs -- they played almost all of them -- to lesser-performed songs from Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief: "The Gloaming," "Dollars and Cents," and "Pyramid Song." But the nightcap, "Everything In Its Right Place," while gorgeous, rang a bit untrue to older eyes gazing across the water at the still-scarred concrete jungle of Lower Manhattan.