Harry Potter and the Deathly Dearth of Post-Siren Action

Creative beer receptacles and futile after-party searches after a long day at Coney Island

As the Voice's Siren Festival drew to a close Saturday night, the vodka was the first to go in the larger of the two VIP tents, followed by the wine, the rum, and all the mixers save two unopened liters of seltzer. Beer remained, but no cups, and not enough time to run and grab some—the New York Dolls, in the Main Stage's final performance of the day, were currently leading the audience in a "Piece of My Heart" sing-along.

"What about those plastic bottles?" I asked the sweaty, browbeaten bartender, pointing to the seltzer. He cocked his head to the side and squinted. "I could drink beer out of that," I continued.

"But they're full," he said, not a little disbelieving.

A Siren reveler's attempt to meet M.I.A. doesn't go quite as planned.
photo: Rebecca Smeyne
A Siren reveler's attempt to meet M.I.A. doesn't go quite as planned.

"Right, but we're all leaving soon anyway, right? And nobody's going to ask you for just seltzer. We should just empty them out."

"Empty them out," he repeated. "You want me to dump a full bottle of soda and fill it with beer."

"That's exactly what I want."

He paused, then laughed. "Fine by me."

This was my first Siren, and while I expected to see a respectable number of folks out enjoying the sun during their possibly last opportunity to hang at Coney Island as we know it, I didn't anticipate, like, football fields of fans. Legions of people drifted between the two stages, up to the boardwalk, out to the beach, and back again, eating all forms of fair food and wearing next to nothing. (Luckily, that didn't include the Harry Potter dorks, who actually carted their just-released brick of pages to read between sets and on the train; they kept their clothes on.)

My favorite set of the day was Matt and Kim's, where a guy crowd-surfed over security to be deposited directly in front of the stage, his smile as wide as the drummer's trademark grin while musclemen carted him off by the arms. (An overenthusiastic lass who bum-rushed the stage during M.I.A.'s set a while later got a similarly brusque reception from security.) I assume the skinny kid who leapt onstage for the final song, awkwardly hugging Matt and throwing his arms in the air, liked the show too. Matt and Kim just seem so fun, like people you'd actually want to call your friends. (I'd also like to call the White Rabbits my friends, but for different reasons.)

Really, I was ready to be friends with anyone who gave me an excuse to stick around Siren, since there wasn't a single goddamned thing planned for afterward. The only spot even mentioned as a "post-Siren party" was Scissors for Lefty's gig at Union Hall. I spent the final two hours of the festival floating between the stages, grilling the tent-dwellers (a mixture of press people, photographers, and James Iha) about their plans for the night. Despite a general consensus that most wanted to stay in Brooklyn, no one had a specific objective. So, upon being officially kicked off the premises (and forced to relinquish my liter of seltzer-tainted beer), to Union Hall we went.

The Park Slope establishment celebrated its one-year anniversary the weekend before last with a sold-out all-star installment of "Tearing the Veil of Maya," the comedy brainchild of Michael Showalter and Eugene Mirman, with special guests Todd Barry, David Cross, and Janeane Garofalo. Downstairs, Montreal power trio Land of Talk played to a practically nonexistent audience, which is almost exactly how it was on Saturday night. Scissors for Lefty didn't seem to mind terribly that they were playing for 20 people, mostly made up of couples happily bopping around to the band's peppy indie pop. I minded a lot. So I headed back upstairs to the comfortably crowded main space and interrupted a conversation that turned out to be a late-night revision session between an n+1 writer and his editor, at which point I suggested (really articulately, I'm sure) that the article in question should be "sexed up." I think they were unimpressed. Despite the bar's mid-level hum, this obviously wasn't the chosen spot for Siren revelers.

On a recommendation from Nadine Gelineau, president and founder of cool-kid music marketers the MuseBox (formerly AddVice Marketing), our next stop was Soundfix Records. It's a record shop, yeah, but the shows there aren't typical in-store performances—there's an actual room with an actual bar, so don't be deterred from going. (She also mentioned Southpaw, but we wanted to get fucked up, not see Fucked Up.) We asked the cab driver to wait while we scoped, but when we pulled up a little after 1:30 a.m., it looked like the bulk of the crowd was already spilling out into the night, so we never even got out of the car. Instead, he took us to Studio B.

In an e-mail earlier in the week, Studio B booker (and Motherfucker DJ) Justine D. told me she was hoping the boys from Voxtrot would swing by the club after their Siren session for sets by Juan MacLean and Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson. Given Saunderson's legendary status, I expected a solid turnout. And maybe there was one earlier in the night, but at 2 a.m., his show was over and I was one of maybe 30 people on the dance floor—and one of only, like, three girls. Maybe it was because Siren-goers had come out to Studio B the night before for Battles, or because they'd passed out from drinking warm beer and eating hot dogs at Coney Island all day, or because everyone's just generally lame, but I couldn't buy a bloody party on Saturday night. When I mentioned Voxtrot to the Scottish girl I was smoking with outside, she told me they were definitely inside, dancing. My friend Jill maintains they were the ones re-enacting the "Thriller" video's moves, all stoopy-shouldered and antisocial. Maybe they were actually just re-enacting the video of prison inmates re-enacting "Thriller" that was YouTube's big hit last week. I haven't a clue.

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