After Thursday night's CMJ marathon, I was looking for something a bit more low-impact last night, so I headed back to the L.E.S., starting out at The Suffolk for the Matador Showcase, where Harlem played an early set of garage that was sloppy and fun. Or, maybe it was the free Magic Hat and PBR.
Telling myself I'd be back later for the killer lineup to come (Lemonade, Cold Cave, Ted Leo), I ventured across Rivington to Fat Baby: a cozy little basement with vintage lamps and zebra-print wallpaper. Holding court was Vancouver's quirky, delightful Mint Records, with a great lineup of Canadian acts rarely seen in these parts. Victoria's Immaculate Machine played pretty, earnest pop that recalled their fellow BC natives New Pornographers. They were led by the engaging Brooke Gallup, who looked like Doug Henning with his mustache and flowing red hair. Suddenly, it struck me that this is what this festival is all about: 30 people in a Lower East Side basement, listening intently to a five-piece band from an island 3,000 miles away, dropping in on their way back from Europe. It reminds you that music is all cut from the same fabric, no matter how distant.
"Is anyone here even from New York?" asked Chris Connelly, lead singer of Edmonton, Alberta's Hot Panda who followed. (About 1/3 of the crowd cheered.) In between their lo-fi pop, Connelly told us the band was on their second day without sleep, having just driven 15 hours from Halifax, where they played the Pop Explosion Wednesday night. "We're fueled by the power of rock!" he exclaimed, earnestly.
After getting locked out of Lemonade at the Suffolk, I made a beeline straight back to Fat Baby, in time to catch Vancouver's The Pack A.D. Comprised of drummer Maya Miller and singer/guitarist Becky Black, they were - on the surface - like the female version of Japandroids, except their sound was more Stooges than emotive pop. Black - who's quite the looker with her raven hair and tight jeans - jumped all around the stage, her throaty voice full of bluesy vibrato. And, they too are headed to Halifax, playing a show there tonight. Damn, these Canadians have a lot of energy!
Speaking of that other Vancouver duo, they actually played Bell House last night at 1am, which I intended to make after a quick nap at home. Unfortunately, that quick nap turned into a much-needed 8 hours. Oh well, its not like I haven't seen them before.
Headed out now for the day parties on the LES, followed by a run over to Williamsburg for the Showpaper benefit at Market Hotel. Most of the stuff today is FREE, so get off your couch and get out there. (More pics below.)