When does summer start? Is it Memorial Day Weekend? The summer solstice? It’s a question whose answer really depends on who you are & where you are – it’s right after school lets out for the year if you’re a student, and is seemingly year-round if you live far south enough. But if you’re an NYC indie music fan, summer starts rather late, as the free outdoor shows don’t really kick in until July. Oh sure, the seasons of Central Park SummerStage (QRO venue review) & Prospect Park Bandshell’s Celebrate Brooklyn! (QRO venue review) technically begin at the start of June (QRO photos of Celebrate Brooklyn! kick-off), but their free music schedules are particularly dominated in that first month of theirs by the kind of highbrow world music that may earn them government arts funding, but you don’t care about. No, the real start is when the reliable indie-outdoor venues start putting on shows, such as the Bear In Heaven concert at South Street Seaport on Friday, July 9th.
Well, the Seaport Music season actually started on Saturday, June 26th (QRO concert listing) with Apples In Stereo (QRO live review), but that was part of the ‘Kid’s Day’ of events there, not to mention up against a whole host of other events. And yes, the Friday Seaport Music shows started on July 2nd (QRO concert listing) with Beach Fossils (QRO photos) & Woven Bones (QRO photos), but that garage-rock showcase had been marred by low turnout (thanks to folks getting out of town for the holiday weekend), and supposed-to-be-headliner YellowFever having to cancel because singer/guitarist Jennifer Moore accidentally left a chef knife from her day job in her bag when they tried to fly. But YellowFever made up for it by appearing early the next Friday, as an unannounced, surprise add to the bill that was missed by many (such as your correspondent…).
The real showcase on July 9th was electronica-bordering-on-chillwave that has boomed recently, headlined by the certainly booming Bear In Heaven. The Brooklyn (at that point) trio has been garnering all sorts of popular acclaim on both sides of the pond thanks to their latest, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (QRO review), and South Street Seaport (QRO venue review) is the docking point for many up-and-coming Brooklyn acts entering Manhattan. Unfortunately, outdoors & during the day for free is not the best way to see any sort of electronica, as similar-sounding, also not-actually-religious opener Zola Jesus (QRO photos) proved – Jesus’ female singer & guy guitarist had a nice sound, but lacked real stage presence. But Bear In Heaven have stronger songs like "You Do You", are more danceable, and have a greater a stage presence (though could still use a man in a monkey suit, like last year’s Black Moth Super Rainbow – QRO live review – but, really, who couldn’t use a man in a monkey suit?…). And they’ve got a reportedly new, better drummer – though he’s overtaken both singer/keyboardist/bassist Jon Philpot and guitarist Adam Wills in ‘best-looking guy in the band’ department, but that’s as much due to both Philpot & Wills’ (ironic?) mustaches.
But perhaps the reason this Friday felt like the ‘real’ kick-off to the 2010 NYC Summer Concert season wasn’t so much the more-packed crowd, but the more-packed VIP area, which seemed to have had every NYC indie music blogger you’d ever heard of, from Patrick of the (late) PopTartsSuckToasted.com to Matt of TheMusicSlut.com (plus your correspondent), and a host of photogs (though no Dave of BrooklynVegan.com). Of course, some of that might have had to do with the VIP area having free beer, but it ran out before Bear In Heaven started. There were also numerous other up-and-coming Brooklyn musicians, such as Joseph Ferocious of Cymbals Eat Guitars (QRO live review) and two-thirds of The Antlers (QRO live review) – perhaps because both acts & Bear In Heaven share a publicist. But where were the ladies of friend-of-the-Bear (and friend-of-Friend-of-The-Q Hooray For Earth – QRO live review) Zambri (QRO photos)?
Bear/Cymbals/Antlers’ publicist also handles the Pool Parties at Williamsburg Waterfront (QRO venue review), whose start this Sunday (QRO concert listing) lends further credence to this weekend being the ‘real’ kick-off to the Big Apple summer concert season. And with the heat wave having just passed, the Big Apple’s ready to rock.