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Sing, Harpies: A Siren Song

My first trip to the Siren Festival on Coney Island in 2003 was tainted by the fact that I had to meet my then-recent ex-boyfriend there so that he could give me back my jean jacket. I remember finding him, reasonably easily, because even though he had the regulation black-rimmed glasses, at 6’5” he was a head taller than all the other boys with curly, tousled black hair. I found him, quickly, hugged him, awkwardly, and watched his back disappear into the hipster throng, though I could see his head from a hundred yards away.

That fateful Saturday in July ’03 was like this past Saturday: schorchingly, swamp-ass hot. I thought I didn’t like Siren just because of the post-break-up malaise and the heat, but I realized instead that it’s just that I don’t like festivals. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like port-a-potties. I don’t like being subjected to the elements. Basically, I am a very old, cranky woman who would rather listen to her rock in a climate controlled room with free flowing booze, no lines, and a potable source of water.

Even the VIP wristband that I scored this year didn’t help matters much, though getting to use the VIPortapotty was definitely the perk I appreciated most. There is nothing more exciting than using the bathroom directly after a rockstar that you’ve salivated over for years (for me, that was Britt Daniel of Spoon. He even held the door open for me after he left! Amazing!).

The other thing I noticed is that my favorite acts both years were on the second, ostensibly less important stage. In 2003, seeing the girl-rappers Northern State was the highlight of my day, nay, month. They electrified the Stillwell stage with their verve and their bridge n’ tunnel accents. This time around, I found Be Your Own Pet and Morningwood to be the most riveting acts. Both BYOP and Morningwood have the gift of an electrifying frontwoman.

My other favorite moment (after Britt Daniel in the port-a-loo) was the gyrating of BYOP’s Jemina Abegg. I think she’s 17, and she’s way spunkier than I could ever hope to be. She probably wouldn’t have left anything at her ex-boyfriends’ house. She probably would have kicked him in the shins and run away if she saw him at Siren. Abegg made my trip to Siren this year worth it, despite the sun, the sweat, and the bad karma.