Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Create Your Mark @ House of Vans, June 25, 2011

Is Brooklyn in the house? Without a DOUBT! The boys from Vans (yea, the shoe guys) have built a gigantic skate park in Brooklyn, way out in the middle of nowhere in Greenpoint, which is where you put stuff; not necessarily in Greenpoint, but definitely in the middle of nowhere in Brooklyn. The place is a great space for partying, skating, and jamming out to some live music, which are three things they do in abundance over at the House. They've had quite a few shows there already with a few more on deck, but I managed to get myself on the list for this show called Create Your Mark, which was an all-day music and party festival. Basically two things I love the most...

The show was scheduled for 4pm, so me and my boy made our way over there early as to beat the crowd. Genius right? We thought so too. When we got there, which was about 15 minutes before, there was one other person waiting! Really? Free food, free booze, free music, all day...and there's no one around?! It was weird because, you could hear the band tuning up instruments; there was security outside getting everything set up, but where were all the people who like free stuff? Maybe they went away this weekend? It didn't matter, we checked our names at the door and went in. It got even weirder: sitting next to the kiddie pool, beers in one hand an a Super Soaker in the other, out back waiting for the guy to finish cranking out some burgers, and there was still only like ten people around! It was such an awesome set up: free burgers, three bars serving up free beer and wine, free Vitamin Water, free VitaCoco Coconut water, and even the Korilla BBQ truck parked out back give out their special take on Korean BBQ. You could even make your own tie-dye t-shirts! This space could probably fit 1000 people easy, but it never had more than about 300 people, which made the place seem even more empty than it was because it's so big. I wasn't complaining though, because it was so awesome!

They had four bands billed to play, and the first band to start up were a band called the Grand Rapids. They were kind of a fusion of old school punk music and 60s/70s rock. It sounds better than it was for me. The lead singer had a knack for just kind of talking over the music, kind of like Bob Dylan, who I think is a fantastic musician, but a good singer he is not. The music they were playing was good but it was hard to get past the singing/talking thing the lead was doing. The lead guitarist and bass guitar player switched instruments at one point to play a couple songs with each other's instruments but it didn't really do much to change my feeling about their music.

It was weird the flow of the show. Everyone hung out outside for pretty much the majority of the time at the House of Vans, but as soon as a band started playing everyone would run back inside to hear them play. When they were done everyone would scamper back outside to squirt each other with water guns and what not.

The next band came on a little bit later, a group by the name of Chairlift, and for what it's worth, these guys were musically the exact opposite of Grand Rapids. Chairlift had more of a sound of an 80s pop band, with a female lead singer who had moments where she sounded like Sade! Yes it was that soothing. They had a keyboard player who would sing some harmony as well, while playing overly electronic stuff on the keys. I was really enjoying these guys' sound, as you can probably tell. I'm going to touch on the fact that pretty much every band that was playing that day is a bit of an acquired taste, so it's very easy for me to understand if someone didn't like the bands that were playing, that is unless you consider the third band on the list, the Smith Westerns.

These guys come highly recommended, that is unless you've been under a rock for the last year or two or you just don't really listen to that kind of music. I went to Saks 5th Avenue earlier this year to see these guys live and even though it was just an in store performance you knew these kids were truly talented. I normally say kids but these guys are definitely children, with only one member of their outfit old enough to drink! This set was definitely much longer than the one they did in a department store, and it was definitely better. They mixed up some new tracks with some old songs and they really showed off their versatility. Their songs are all over the place, from psychedelic rock to glam to something the Beach Boys would play. Their lead guitarist plays these amazing solos when it's 'guitar solo time', and they actually make you forget that he's like 20 years old, that is until you actually look at him and realize that he's probably closer to 18! The Smith Westerns were the guys I went to see and they were amazing, like I thought they would be. If you still don't know about these guys, do yourself a favor and pick up their latest album "Dye It Blonde," then you can go ahead and thank me later for the suggestion.

The last band to play were my least favorite of the entire night, a band called Spectrum. Now I'd never heard any of the bands prior to the show with the exception of the always brilliant Smith Westerns. With that said, I didn't really know what to expect from the other bands so really they all could have been terrible. Now I don't want to say Spectrum was terrible, so let's just say they weren't concerned with being good per se! And I say that with the utmost respect, but they really weren't considering being good. Their entire performance just seemed like them being in love with themselves and everything they were doing on stage. Let me put into perspective how bad this was: on MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, the lead singer created feedback on the speakers, and decided to record it and loop it, then try to tune the feedback! That's right folks, he was tuning the feedback. Imagine about a hundred people standing looking at a stage with their hands over their ears, for like five minutes! And they did this more than once, it was probably closer to like 3 times! For whatever reason I decided to stay for their entire painful performance. I was by myself too, my friend I came with left during the Smith Westerns performance, citing they "kind of suck." I don't argue with people who have no crudentials about music (or anything really), he did mention that he thought the first band was "pretty good," so I just let him think what he wanted and leave!

It didn't really matter though; even with Spectrum being pure noise it was still a great show and an awesome Saturday afternoon event. I'm looking forward to the next time I get to go to this place and enjoy a great show; hopefully it's sometime soon, and during the day on a Saturday, so I can actually go, and stay the entire time!

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