As a recap, Mr BG was asked to play at the New York Popfest in November last year. This is the reason why we took the trip to the USA, visited San Francisco, and now New York City. Last weekend the Popfest finally happened, and it was amazing.
Travelling to the show saw us cross over to Manhattan and I saw the skyline for the first time. Other times into Manhattan have been on the subway, and I stared, feeling so incredibly awestruck at the iconic landscape. Magical!
The Friday show was at the Knitting Factory, a bar in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn.
There was a retro feel to the show, with many bands having played in the long distant past or evoked a mood of the past with their tunes.
It went well much to the relief of Mr BG, who had been stressing about it all week. The New York show had 2 singers, Scott and Pam, and the set went well. It was the first time that Pam had performed with the band and it gelled really well.
It was lovely to catch up with familiar faces from San Francisco too! Many people had traveled from the West Coast- incredibly nice and hospitable.
The other bands on the bill followed. The Haywains followed with a fast sound very reminiscent of the late 80s early 90s indie pop.
The next band, entitled My Favorite, with keyboards, two female singers and a flamboyant frontman also heavily influenced by 80s pop, evoking the style of The Human league, Duran Duran with a touch of Siouxsie and the Banshees.
By this stage we has retired to the front bar and
proceeded to drink it dry had a couple of drinks.
We traveled to Williamsburg again to see the Zebras perform at Sticky Grill, billed as an all ages afternoon show. It was a smaller venue, but it was electric!
Various configurations of Bart and Friends were in other bands and the Zebras was Jeremy’s (drummer extraordinaire of Bart and Friends).
There was another show that night around the corner at a bar called Cameo. We spent the time between shows having dinner and walking down to the East River Ferry crossing to look at the sun setting over Manhattan. It’s a tough life.
The venue was very dark (not great) and humid, and uncomfortably so.
The show Mr BG wanted to see was The Garlands from Sweden. They were impressive, and what’s more, they were young.
While it is great to see and hear your old favourites, fresh music from newer bands keeps the indie pop music scene alive.
Nevertheless, we stuck around to see Rocketship, who had played in San Francisco the week before. Their set was very similar to their San Francisco show, but was plagued by keyboard problems. By this time the venue was oppressively hot, and I was doing all I could to stay upright (I have been known to faint in very similar situations).
The final day of the Popfest saw Mr BG playing in 2 shows in 2 different venues. The first show was a BBQ show which featured a few Popfest bands including Rocketship, with Pam and MrBg playing a stripped back version of their set for later that afternoon, and which was out in yet another part of Brooklyn. The Zebras and another group configuration of Bart and Friends, Monnone Alone was also playing. The neighbourhood was interesting, as I don’t think Mr BG has ever played at a venue next door to a shop that sells live chickens. Even some of the New Yorkers attending hadn’t seen this before :).
The show was played outside in a courtyard where it was incredibly sunny. Sunscreen was provided by the venue owner, and it was well used by the Australian contingent, who kept
to the shade wherever possible. Everyone else was out in the sun soaking up the rays.
Rocketship’s keyboard problems from the night before had disappeared and their set went well.
It really encapsulated what the festival was about, people coming together to have a good time and listen to some great music.
Pam and MrBG played and it went down like a storm. The set was a mix of songs from previous bands in which they had played including the Shapiros and the Cat’s Miaow. Pam has the most amazing voice and drew an emotional response from members of the audience.
Then there was a dash to the subway to make it to the next show. I was the stress bunny this time around, as MrBg was still feeling the warm fuzziness that comes with accolades and positive feedback from respected peers.
Little Field was the venue for the last show. Of all the venues it was the best, spacious audience space, a bar and an outdoor area. From inside information, the backstage area was also quite good too!
We made it (yay!), and managed to catch the last few songs of Marine Life, who had played in San Francisco.
Pam and Mr BG played their final show to much acclaim. The audience thoroughly enjoyed it with a couple of youngsters hanging out to grab the set list! These indiepop kids were in their early twenties and would have been children when many of these songs were first played.
After a few more bands, a chance meeting with another librarian who was in a band (and worked at the New York Public Library! ) and a yummy dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, the Popfest closed for us.
But wait there’s more! The last show for Bart and Friends was at Otto’s Shrunken Head, a tiki bar on the Lower Eadt Side. It was a last hurrah for everyone that was still in town after the Popfest and a chance to play once more. Monnone Alone, the Zebras and Bart and Friends were on the bill, as well as Nina, an Australian who was in the USA and who knew Mark. Mid – state Orange, which is Louis’ band (the supremely talented guitarist in Bart and Friends, were also on the bill.
The music was good, and the company was great.
There was a slight problem in that Mr BG had had a bit to drink and was very relaxed about the whole gig. “The set list is in my head,” he insisted, much to the mirth of some band members and concern of others.
I think he had the right idea. It was more about getting together with mates, having fun and a few drinks. That was the best thing about Popfest.