East Village Radio Music Festival Recap

<div><a href="features/features/east_village_radio_music_festival_recap/"><img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/evrrecap.jpg" alt=" " /></a></div><div> </div>The East Village’s own pirate radio station had an anniversary, and decided to throw a festival to celebrate all around South Street Seaport....

The East Village’s own pirate radio station had an anniversary, and decided to throw a festival to celebrate all around South Street Seaport. Five years ago, East Village Radio was launched out of an apartment in the neighborhood, playing their illegal signal all the way up to 14th Street.  A New York Times article the following year gave them bigger exposure – so big, in fact, that the FCC sent a cease-and-desist letter which forced them to shut down their transmission (thanks a lot, Grey Lady – first that whole ‘Iraq has weapons of mass destruction’ thing, then this…).  But EVR moved, like so many of us have, onto the web, where they’ve grown & grown.

And to celebrate their fifth anniversary, they threw the East Village Radio Music Festival on Sunday, September 7th.  It was supposed to be on the Saturday, but was delayed a day to due Hurricane Hannah (curiously like the G.O.P. convention with Hurricane Gustav…) – but if you were going to delay things a day for rain, EVR got just about the best weather you could hope for on Sunday.  The whole thing went on down in lower Manhattan, not only at the established outdoor South Street Seaport (QRO venue review) – closing it out for the summer – but also at the recently-opened ‘On-the-side’ stage just ‘round the corner, @Seaport (QRO venue review) – introducing it to a whole new set of fans:

(click band’s name for all their EVR photos in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery)

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Get the party started...
...Keep the party jumpin'!

Getting the party started – and keeping the party jumping – was Hypnotic Brass Ensemble at South Street Seaport.  This eight-man horn section (plus lady drummer) sounded as sweet as anything from Daptone, but they had this extra energy that was infectious.  For their finish, one of the men stepped out from behind the horn to get the crowd moving with the call-and-response from above.  And eight men, all lined up in a row, meant that they could bust some great, synchronized dance moves, whether playing or not.

Ólöf Arnalds

Arnalds + 1
Arnals + 2

Following up at South Street Seaport was Icelandic singer/songstress Ólöf Arnalds.  The switch from nine folks on stage to just Arnalds and a back-up guitarist was a bit stark – not to mention going from virtually no vocals to almost all in Icelandic (though she did throw down a Bruce Springsteen cover, on a friend’s request).  The new indie darling has made a big splash in her home island, winning “Best Album of 2007” from the top newspaper there (beating out such other big-name locals as Björk, Sigur Rós, and múm…) for her solo debut, Vid og Vid.  While it took the crowd a little while to warm up to her (open-air settings are never ideal for solo artists), she proved charming, especially when joined by a violinist for the last few songs.


wandering off...Over at @Seaport, the change was even starker, with about the only thing remaining the same was the number of musicians, at two, in Bunnybrains.  The Hudson, NY duo brought their dirty-hippie-strange down the river, with singer Dan Bunnybrains wandering about the stage floor, going on about wigwams while wearing what looked like little more than just an apron.  He eventually settled down enough to play guitar, dedicating material to “the people who don’t like us…”

Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls are smokin'!South Street Seaport kept the ladies a-comin’ with Vivian Girls.  The charming, all-girl three-piece brought their garage-meets-surf sound across the East River from Brooklyn.  Singer/guitarist Cassie Ramone joked about how “a couple hundred years ago, this was all water…” – three cheers for coastal reclamation!  The band was also the first to benefit from use of the smoke machine…

Hex Message

Hex Message + peopleBack at @Seaport, ambient electronica first reared its head for the festival from Hex Message.  Fitting for the art gallery-like space – which was actually featuring artwork as well – the Message carried to people throughout venue.

High Places

sweaty Robert BarberAmbient electronica stayed in the air over at South Street Seaport with High Places.  More atmospheric, the sound from duo Mary Peterson & Robert Barber was more suited for the outdoors – even if Barber was sweating heavily…


Dan Friel of Parts & Labor

Dan Friel amongst the peopleThe Brooklyn natives kept coming when late add Dan Friel of Parts & Labor sat down at @Seaport.  Parts & Labor play well whether indoors (QRO photos) or out, like they recently did in Coney Island for Siren Music Festival (QRO recap).  Friel brought an interesting electronic take on the band’s work, including their latest, Mapmaker (QRO review) – and just sitting on a folding chair with some Korg-like apparatus on his lap, lit up by some Christmas lights, the crowd were able to get very close.

Awesome Color

w/ Jorge deCouto from EVRBut bringing the rock back to the festival was Awesome Color at South Street Seaport.  The beloved Bushwick band delivered their seventies-esque guitar-rock-grind once again to the outdoors (QRO photos of another outdoor show).  As loud as anything Seaport’s seen, the trio also saw Jorge de Couto from East Village Radio join in on axe near the end.

John Oliver

South Street Seaport then saw a pair of very different solo artists, starting with comedy from The Daily Show’s own John Oliver.  The resident Brit on “The Best F[bleep]king News Team Ever”, Oliver was just back from the conventions and “had no soul left.”  He joked about such diverse topics as Australian voters (who are required, by law, to vote – resulting in drunk voting, which weirdly makes you more conservative), some sort of cocaine & penguins bit (trying that piece out for the first time…), why people don’t care about tigers (“On the list of people’s priorities, it’s 74th – just above ‘funding for the arts’, and just below ‘not getting eaten by a tiger’…”).  However, his biggest laughs may have come from his off-the-cuff comments about how out-of-place he was, a stand-up comic at music festival – not that he didn’t have the crowd’s attention.

Devin the Dude

hot-box the Seaport!The style may have changed, but things stayed funny at South Street Seaport with Devin the Dude.  The hip-hop artist plays on the lighter side of life (earning him the nickname, ‘The Richard Pryor of hip-hop’), keeping the crowd smiling.  His best material was weed-related – though it was aided by the oh-so apropos smoke machine…

Crystal Stilts

Frankie RoseOver at @Seaport was the most hotly-anticipated local indie act, Crystal Stilts – so hotly anticipated, in fact that we missed ‘em!  Security was quite literally counting the people entering and leaving @Seaport, as the place was packed to the gills, with the crowd right up amongst them, like some kind of house party.  Getting there literally as they were taking off their instruments, the audience certainly seemed pleased with their garage-road sound.  Just off a tour with Vivian Girls (from where they poached drummer Frankie Rose), the two bands seem to be in a duel to see who can play more NYC-area shows this year – we’ve luckily already seen ‘em twice outdoors (QRO photos of another outdoor show – same one as Awesome Color…) – including once at South Street Seaport (QRO photos), and will likely see ‘em again before their debut full-length, Alight of the Night, drops at the end of October (QRO ‘What To Look For : Fall 2008’ upcoming release schedule).

Flying Lotus

Back over at South Street Seaport, electronica DJ Flying Lotus was spinning.  An interesting mix of styles, he flowed well in the outdoors.  Maybe best known for providing music for Adult Swim’s absurdist segues, he was certainly a draw – one pretty redhead wanted to get backstage solely because, “I just wanna meet Flying Lotus…”


singing from the floorMeanwhile, things got stranger, even outdoors-y at @Seaport with Woods.  Their freak-psychedelica has this distorted remove and echo which brought a haunted forest indoors.  But real benefit was getting to catch the band from @Seaport’s balcony, where one could see the singer sing into his strange electronic thing while kneeling on the floor…


KRS-One in crowd
KRS-One at Lil' Frankie's

handing out DVDsAfter doing host duties at South Street Seaport all day, the one-and-only KRS-One finally busted out some rhymes (after handing out copies of his DVD).  Certainly the biggest draw all day, KRS-One had been teasing the crowd with his introductions between bands, along with promoting not just East Village Radio (he was big on their pirate past…) but also EVR sponsor Lil’ Frankie’s – if he could make “Shiny Happy People”-era R.E.M. dope by rapping on “Radio Song”, he could certainly say, “The salmon is off the hook!”  And KRS-One followed his own advice, by not just going into the crowd to rhyme, but going all the way past the crowd (eventually exhausting the range of his radio-linked mike) to the large Lil’ Frankie’s tent on the other side to, “get me some salmon!” – and sign some autographs…


Closing out (but not down) @Seaport was the first name in indie-rock – alphabetically, anyway – Aa.  Remarkably, the experimental mix-up of a band was perhaps the poppiest act of the (admittedly not-to-poppy) festival.  Be sure to catch more free local faves over the ‘off-season’ @Seaport…


Boris in purple......Boris in green...
...and Boris in blue...Boris in red...
gong!double your pleasure

With so many local acts (even John Oliver lives in New York…), EVR went halfway around the world for their headliner, Japan’s Boris.  Alongside (and perhaps above…) fellow countrymen The Boredoms, Boris is the definition of Japan’s seminal noise-rock scene today.  At South Street Seaport, the band was straight-upper metal-rock (with, yes, a gong & a double-necked bass-guitar…) – and closed down the venue for the season with the best light & smoke show since it was opened by Wire (QRO live review).



With an eclectic and interesting mix of acts big & small, the East Village Radio Music Festival was kind of like the music you can find on East Village Radio – and @ Seaport…



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