A DAY IN THE LIFE OF SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL

by kevin diamond (photographs by mel mccue)

Coney Island hot dogs stored safely in belly, with a cold beer to keep them chilled, I advanced on the Main Stage at approximately 3:00 PM eastern standard time. The band about to play was The Dodos. 7 Hours later, full of beer and piss, feet hurting, body sweating, legs aching, I abandoned the hostile crowd watching Broken Social Scene, took a spin on the Wonder Wheel, and headed home.

ANTHEMS FOR A 17 YR OLD GIRL BY BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE:

Just another day at Coney Island. (read more for more music and a photo gallery from siren)

The Dodos chose an odd set of songs from their second album, Visiter, avoiding easy hits like “Fools” for deeper cuts. Resident third-wheel live member Joe Haener played vibes and banged on a tin trash can. That tin trash can later made a surprise second appearance, encasing Islands lead singer Nick Thorburn as he entered the stage, singing the entire first song from within it. It was strange. But, then, Islands have always been a strange band. They played songs from both of their albums, but concentrated mostly on material from this years excellent Arm’s Way.

JODI BY THE DODOS:

I FEEL EVIL CREEPING IN BY ISLANDS:

Times New Viking’s set was packed with enthusiastic fans showing love for the distortion-heavy jams they’ve come to be known for. I enjoy their recorded work, but felt that the live setting allowed the songs to breath; to crawl out from under the blanket of lo-fi under-production that smothers the album. Keyboardist/singer Beth Murphy wailed like the titular Siren, while drummer Adam Elliot and guitarist Jared Philips kicked the shit out of their instruments, and berated their amps to epic proportions. Like an un-ironic imagining of the classic Spinal Tap “Turn it up to 11″ joke, these guys had an insatiable need to bleed peoples eardrums.

TEEN DRAMA BY TIMES NEW VIKING:

The real success story of the evening, however, was the set by the unassuming Ra Ra Riot. Like a mild-mannered Japanese kid at a Nathan’s hot dog eating competition, Ra Ra Riot struck like a dark horse, surprising everyone in attendance by turning in the tightest, loudest, most energetic set of the festival. It’s no surprise that thereafter, whilst waiting in unimaginably long lines for cold beers in brown paper bags, I found myself next to pretty young hipster chicks who couldn’t help but talk about how cute and charismatic the lead singer was. Wes Miles was born to front a band, and his golden throat-ed vocals were above par yesterday. The Bass, Guitar, Cello and Violin weaved in and out majestically, and the drummer provided the power and energy that’s been the band’s hallmark since they started in Syracuse, NY. Debut album The Rhumb Line comes out on Barsuk in August. It’s gonna be big, so get excited.

DYING IS FINE BY RA RA RIOT:

I ended my day at the Stillwell Stage, trying to squeeze into the audience for Broken Social Scene, but, as the Siren Festival has become known for, there was hardly enough space for everyone, and if there’s one thing a gaggle of hipsters loves, it’s pushing people the fuck out of their way because, god dammit, they’re the REAL FANS, and they’re gonna get to the front of the stage if it FUCKING KILLS THEM. Which I hope it does.

ALL MY FRIENDS BY BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE:

The band sounded great, and I’m nothing if not an avid Broken Social Scene fan, but I couldn’t take the claustrophobic attitude of the parking lot. I’d already been on my feet for 6 hours, and, having never been to Astroland, I decided I needed to ride the Ferris Wheel before it was torn down for condos. It was everything I hoped it would be. Go enjoy it before it’s too late.

From my swinging cage above the beach, I could see and hear both the BSS and the Stephen Malkmus sets. Unfortunately for Malkmus, it looked like 4/5ths of the people in attendance were at the BSS show. Which would explain the overcrowded-ness. I had decided not to see Malkmus’ show cause I had just seen him a few months ago at Music Hall of Williamsburg. He was great then, and he sounded great from 30 feet up; I’m sure the fans were happy for the elbow room.

(DO NOT FEED THE) OYSTER BY STEPHEN MALKMUS:

Siren: It’s hot, It’s overcrowded, and hipsters can be jerks. But it was all worth it for the chance to see Ra Ra Riot bloom.

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