by Angela Sutton
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.
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.