Live: Fang Island Cover Mariah Carey, Inspire Much Unironic High-Fiving At Cake Shop


Fang Island
Cake Shop
Saturday, May 29

No offense to the other four (!!!) bands on this bill, but the full-on, Facebook-abetted lightsaber battle raging in the park at Houston and Chrystie on the Lower East Side Saturday night was a bewildering, fascinating sight. We’re talking dozens of folks with LED swords (our own slideshow is here) whacking at each other, in a sportsmanlike but still real real aggressive way: “Everybody’s been hitting me in the bonch,” one slightly annoyed but thoroughly emotionally invested young lady announced, to no one in particular. Only in New York, etc. etc., and then it was off to the Cake Shop to find out what exactly would happen if REO Speedwagon played math rock.

Fang Island need to cover “Cliffs of Dover” immediately. (Trust me, you know it.) These vivacious, high-fiving, tremendously smiley dudes are basically Cliffs of Dover: The Band. Which is a beautiful thing: three righteous, lyrical guitarists and a pummeling rhythm section (the drummer, particularly, is a beast) pounding out volatile, absurdly joyous Andrew W.K.-style arena-decimating jock jams for a sweaty throng that’d happily sing along if there was anything to sing, really. (There are occasional vocals — “Davy Crockett” for example, is a fine tribute to the man — though the lead singer, dressed tonight in apparently a star-spangled Snuggie, sounds disconcertingly like Lindsey Buckingham, which only adds to the absurdity.)

The tunes on the Brooklyn band’s self-titled debut hit hard tonight — the apocalyptic “Welcome Wagon,” particularly, is both exhilarating and exhausting — but the real treat here is the encore, a power-rock cover of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” a fusillade of power chords and en-masse DOOT-DOOT-DOOTs. This is not ironic, either. By this time several people not in the band seem to be singing directly into microphones (what the Cake Shop lacks in sightlines it gains in, uh, intimacy), with one apparently freelance gentleman contributing melodica as well. And again, though this doesn’t seem like too weird a thing, it really is: Everyone is smiling. Wide, guileless smiles as the chaos intensifies. The effect is not unlike being whacked in the bonch repeatedly with a lightsaber. Way better than it sounds.