By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Love them or hate themand the trend is shifting toward the latterthe MisShapes still throw the best party in New York. After two years, a venue change to Don Hill's, a Madonna appearance, and various sets by questionably cool celebrities, you'd think the party would be on its last legs. Tell that to the boys giddily skipping through Don Hill's Saturday night for the Siren after-party, where members of festival acts the Stills and Art Brut DJ'd, and the Films performed live. Sons of celebrities were in the house, including Max Minghella, son of writer-director Anthony. Siren-featured act the Cribsstopped by; so did Jamie Bell of Billy Elliotfame. (MisShape man Geowas particularly excited about that one.)
Why is MisShapes so fun? The chilly cool pictures you see of the hipsters posing on the website and lastnightsparty.com don't reveal one key aspect of the crowd: When not perfecting their paparazzi pouts, they are dancing. Pogoing, bouncing, jumping up and down, sashaying, making out with each other, bumping, grinding, spilling beer, shouting, laughing. They don't know it, but they look much cooler when they do these things than when they strike a pose like there's nothing to it.
Even the outside sidewalk scene was more entertaining than 99.9 percent of New York nightclubs. The line stretched down the block, trusty doorbitch Thomas Onorato was helming the velvet ropes, and kids hung in clusters on the corner, smoking and talking. When I took out my camera, they posed like it was the most natural thing in the world for a person to want to take their pictures. "The flashes outside look just like the flashes inside," my companion said.
Earlier, we'd stopped by the Annex for TisWas, a perfectly respectable good time (they were hosting another Siren after-party with co-headliner She Wants Revenge DJ'ing). But the sheer bliss of the kids at MisShapes is hard to match. They practically trill with glee when a song they like comes onlike the original version of "Tainted Love" and make their dislike known when confronted with a track they don't care for or recognize. (No one except Grandma here seemed to know Fugazi's "Waiting Room"). The poor Stills didn't spin to the crowd's taste; the Art Brut boys fared better. The crowd's maturityor rather, lack thereofhelps the hyperactive energy. Some of the clubbers are barely 21, and a few, well, you wonder. "How old are they really?" I asked my salivating, sex-deprived friend. "Just right," he said.
Perhaps this sums up the night's vibe: MisShape Greg Kwas in rare form, making out with a boy at the bar during his DJ set. Said Geo: "I saw him and said, 'Greg, who's DJ'ing?' He says, 'I dunno,' and I look over and there's some half-naked guy in the DJ booth." Fabulous.
We'd meant to go to more Siren after-partiesespecially the one at the Hook featuring Radio 4, the Rogers Sisters, and Roxy Painbut were barely able to stand after five hours in the sun. Elsewhere in Brooklyn, members of Dirty on Purpose and second (a/k/a Stillman) stage headliners Stars were spinning records at Union Hall in Park Slope. It occurred to usafter rubbing our sore feet, wondering what heatstroke feels like, and considering whether or not we were experiencing itthat maybe we should skip the whole festival part and just do the after-parties.
Glad we didn't. Even though it's our own event, Siren's still fun, hectic, and hot. I ran into Vice's Suroosh Alvi and Adam Shore, who'd ridden their bikes all the way to Coney Island. They were sweating and panting, and it was only 4:30. "That's cute, but you're gonna regret that later!" I warned them.
I hate indie rock, but every year, one band grows on me a little. A few years ago the Yeah Yeah Yeahs grew on me a lot. This year, Art Brut set my heart afluttermost press, publicists, and bloggers buzzed over them too. They seemed primed for the big stage rather than Stillwell, which they commanded while She Wants Revenge hit the main stage. Generally, indie-heavy lineups like these cause me to wonder: Whatever happened to the Rock Star? Whatever happened to charisma, sexiness, attitude? Did it go the way of guitar solos? Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos, though he reminded me of a paunchier Brian Ferry, still has some of that "It"-ness. The Scissor Sisters, including singer (and old Seattle pal) Jake Shears, at least give showmanship a go. They wear flashy, glittery costumes (now designed by Zaldy) and reach for the stars. They are Showbiz with a capital S.
Before their set, cute bear-man Babydaddy watched a bit of the Stills with me. Dense and layered, they felt meaty and satisfying, if not mind-blowing. "I like this," he said. On the boardwalk, Shears cavorted with his handsome boyfriend and his Mom, she of "Take Your Mama" fame. There is one thing you cannot do when Mom's around: Play the "I knew him when" game. You will lose.
The Sisters,along with She Wants Revenge , were one of the two bands I wanted to see. I'd seen them probably more times than any other band in town, while I'd only caught SWR once at the short-lived Scenic at Tommie Sunshine 's equally short-lived party. I brought up our mutual friend to SWR members Justin Warfield and Adam 12 backstage. "Yeah, Tommie was one of our earliest supporters," Warfield said, telling the story of how a friend got a CD to Sunshine, who stayed up and listened to the album straight through, then immediately wrote them an impassioned e-mail, which is totally Tommie.