Monday, April 29, 2013

BAM's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry 2013, Closing Night April 27 w/Highlights Video

Striking a People Get Ready pose with Steven Reker afterwards

Upon arrival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the closing night of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, I headed up the escalator to the BAMcafĂ© for a set by People Get Ready.  But after checking the schedule via overhead projector, I learned that the band had been bumped up into the Opera House space -- right time, wrong venue. This simply made me proud of the Brooklyn group, who I saw during the festival last year as well as a performance at New York Live Arts.  On this much larger stage as a six-piece, the band could better incorporate the choreographic embellishments to music by Steven Reker, who entered the stage with a microphone over his shoulder, dragging the chord. His solo singing introducing "A Squandering” quickly made way for a joyous group aesthetic, which incorporates movement as part of the music making.  Catchy tunes such as "Windy City" and "Uncanny" were punched up an extra notch with an unbridled percussion. I could have done without the guitar solo however, (it was slung over a dancer's shoulder and banged around) as both the sound and thought of injuring an instrument pained me.

Projected schedule for handy reference

The larger crowd for a Saturday night made it more difficult to skip back and forth between spaces, so I opted to stay put for rest of the night.  Another Brooklyn-based band, Here We Go Magic, was next up in the Opera House.  The quintet began with a slow instrumental jam that launched into one of my favorite songs, “Make Up Your Mind.”  Loose live jams built into wild crescendos of sound, as the orchestra pit began to fill with people from their seats.  A cover of Robert Wyatt’s “Just As You Are” brought an impassioned plea by singer Luke Temple and a weighty emotional response from the band.  The group ended their set with the frenetic energy of “How Do I Know?”

Matthew Hauk of Phosphorescent followed, opening up with the alt-country twang of “Terror In the Canyons (The Wounded Master).”  He asked everyone how they were doing, flaunting his Alabama roots in a Southern drawl and nodding his head with the answer that came in applause.  Hauk admitted to having a cold but his voice’s raw power was still in evidence and there was quite a back up band behind his own guitar: organ, piano, drums, bongos, and bass. “Song for Zula” did not disappoint as an anticipated highlight of the set. Hauk presented this tale of heartbreak with storytelling gestures while spotlights swirled on stage until it all plunged into darkness at the end.  “Ride On, Ride On” followed with a thumping pulse and Hauk’s blistering guitar solo.  Another dream sequence appeared with the floating harmonies of “Sun, Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction)” before the charge of “A Charm/A Blade.”  Hauk introduced the band with the flourish of a ringmaster, addressing the audience “Ladies and Gentlemen” and allowing each member to shine before ending the set.

Dance Party!
TV on the Radio also rose to the occasion as the headliner for the night, playing old as well as some new songs.  Filling the stage with seven members with ample equipment, the band lit into a hyper version of “Halfway Home” to kick things into high gear.  Singer Tunde Adebimpe strutted the stage to engage the fans immediately, flailing his long limbs and keeping that sinewy body in constant motion.  Hits such as “Wolf Like Me,” “Second Song,” “Will Do,” and “Caffeinated Consciousness” were rolled out like shiny trophies, before making way for a Prince cover and some “fresh cuts” as Adebimpe called them.  The music rumbled through the Opera House like a subway train, as both fans and band worked up a sweat.

Since this year’s crowd skewed a bit older, I was wondering if the dance floor at the after party in the BAMcafĂ© would be very crowded but not to worry.  Baio (as in Chris Baio, bass player for Vampire Weekend) kept the music flowing, pulsing beats echoing the twinkling lights in the arched windows.  Members of Here We Go Magic looked like they had been celebrating in earnest since their set – their casual stage look now a rumpled mess.  Also on the floor were both curators for the festival, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, dancing while receiving earfuls from various well wishers.  I hadn't spied them since they bounded into the lobby on opening night, after playing a few songs with The National for Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night" show.  It was nice to see that they could actually relax a little bit, with another Crossing Brooklyn Ferry in the books.  Highlights video as well as one of a favorite moment from the festival, Phosphorescent's "Song for Lula," below.