In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
Sweaty DIY venues are great, but even Waste Of Paint needs a break from them once in a while. Furthermore, I haven’t been leaving my dark cave much lately, and my chalky skin is starting to convince me that maybe I should. It was with all this in mind that Debbie and I set out to spend as much time outdoors as possible this weekend. Luckily, it just so happened that four great bands were booked to play en plain air at the South Street Seaport.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate on Friday, and the show starring The Wake and Weekend got moved to Littlefield in Gowanus. Worried that the venue’s greatly reduced capacity would cause admission issues, we got there on the early side, only to find we had greatly overestimated the number of people who liked these two bands enough to cross the river.
This wasn’t so bad, though, because it weeded out all the people who were just going to get drunk and talk the whole time. And the San Francisco shoegazers Weekend did not disappoint, either, delivering a long set of magical, noise-swaddled pop with echoes of Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. As nice as it would’ve been to watch the sun set behind them, I think this kind of music works best in a cool, dark, slightly damp club. The better to pretend you’re in Manchester.
Next, the reunited postpunk-turned-indiepop outfit The Wake took the stage looking pretty sprightly, considering they first formed in 1981. Their plain clothes and somewhat mature appearance created a sense of cognitive dissonance in whippersnappers used to a certain rock stereotype, but looking back at old photos from their Factory Records days, they were always pretty clean-cut. The Goth in me was a little disappointed they didn’t play much of their bleaker-sounding stuff from way back when, but most of what they’ve put out since is mellower and happier, so the set list’s lean in that direction made sense, statistically speaking. Nonetheless, when singer/guitarist Gerard “Caesar” McInulty sang the first strains of 1985’s haunting “O Pamela” in his still-evocative voice, the crowd perked up.
The weather was far kinder for the Voice‘s own 4Knots Music Festival Kickoff on Saturday, and we ventured to the Seaport with joy in our hearts. When we got there, Screaming Females were already on, the bobbing ships forming a picturesque backdrop for their super-charged brand of virtuosic punk. Isn’t “virtuosic punk” an oxymoron? Not in the crazy-fast hands of Marissa Paternoster, whose demonic shredding never fails to overwhelm me with its greatness, no matter how many times I see her do it. Her elemental scream is another fine tool in her toy box, and at the end of the set she deployed it with the mic fully in her mouth. But for all her punk-rock presence, she was adorably shy and awkward when it came time for her to banter. This only made us like her more.
The second Ted Leo got on the mic, he thanked Screaming Females and called them the “best band in existence… currently,” a not-inarguable statement. He and his pharmacists then jumped right into playing their seminal 2001 album The Tyranny Of Distance, the tenth birthday of which was being celebrated that night. I’ll admit to being a more casual Ted Leo fan than most of the people in attendance, but it was cool to see the crowd singing along to more songs than not. Leo was (and is) a flawless showman, alternately doing little splits while playing his solos and stumbling around the stage like he was about to fall. His band has always walked the line dividing catchy from heavy, and this was evident in the noisy breakdowns and relentless barrages of drumming that ended many songs. “Thanks for coming out. What else is going on? It’s a beautiful evening,” Ted said, and hundreds of hearts wished they could buy him a drink.