Contemporary Dance x2
JP Jofre's Hard Tango Chamber Band at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

RiverRocks 2013: The Aves, Thao, and Foxygen

by Angela Sutton

Thao Riverrocks

Thursday's unseasonably cool weather started out gloomy and only became gloomier as the sun set, but RiverRocks at Pier 84 on the Hudson did its best to chase away the doldrums, presenting a lively, free show featuring The Aves, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, and Foxygen.

Australia's The Aves led off with a garage-pop set heavily indebted to the grittier side of New Wave, following the time-honored verse-chorus-bridge pattern, with the typical rock quartet setup of two guitars, bass, and drums. This is solid, well-crafted, hooky rock 'n' roll—albeit written in a relatively narrow range. The band's most unique asset is vocalist Lucy Campbell's throaty howl, which is perhaps underutilized in its music.

Indie darlings Foxygen headlined, stepping on stage under darkness and a few stray raindrops. While usually a duo, Foxygen brought a fleshed-out quintet on tour, adding additional keyboards and guitar to the mix. They wasted no time in building an impressive sound wall around the audience. While it was an energetic set, I couldn't help but feel that some of the multilayered textures of their best work on record were buried in clichéd "rawk"—an impression that wasn't improved by lead singer Adam France's distracting Jagger-esque onstage posturing.

The meat of the sandwich was the middle set, from Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. Although their music draws on folk and country, those deep influences are subsumed under a fuzzed-out, contemporary-garage surface that frees it from limitations of genre. Bandleader Thao Nguyen showed off some range on guitar, banjo, mandolin, and lap steel, with her pugnacious vocal delivery giving the lyrics real punch—definitely music worth braving the threat of storms for.

RiverRocks continues on Thursday, August 8, with Titus Andronicus, Ducktails, and Juan Waters.