Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Afternoon at the After The Jump Festival: papercranes, Alex and the Horribles, The Bloodsugars, Lissy Trullie, Dinowalrus, etc. etc.

We had a great time this afternoon and are grateful for After The Jump. Isn't life wonderful!
After an early lunch today, we walked over to the After The Jump Festival, which all day was featuring -- for free -- about ten zillion bands out on the closed-off North 6th Street between Wythe & The Edge, uh, we mean Kent Avenue. Two stages were set up in Galapagos (Williamsburg will miss it, we who've performed there will miss it, but the Dumbo space is incredible), one stage in the Music Hall of Williamsburg (some of the climactic scenes in the title story of our And To Think That He Kissed Him on Lorimer Street, versions of which appear here and here, take place at a punk show at Northsix, the Music Hall's former incarnation), and one stage out in the street.

Although we know about as much about indie bands as we do about opera or any other genre of music (notwithstanding our old story from the 2000 collection The Silicon Valley Diet, "Boys Club," about the queercore scene), we went from one venue to another, seeing some incredibly good bands. Among them:

Outside, we first saw papercranes, a band from Gainesville whose vocalist, Rain Phoenix, was a little girl when we last saw her at some alt-music event during our years as a UF law student and staff attorney in Hogtown. The band plays some really sweet, subdued, sophisticated pop-rock. They're now in New York a lot and you should try to catch their nuanced, translucent sound.

Alex and the Horribles, a quintet of Rutherford, NJ, high schoolers whose influences range from The Pixies and Nirvana to Weezer and The Ramones, played early at the Music Hall to a sparse crowd. They deserved a bigger audience, as we were very impressed with "Eskimo Girl" and some of their other songs. Alex, the vocalist, is poised and earnest without being pretentious, and the others know what they're doing. At home, we listened to the CD they gave us and we didn't have second thoughts.

Performing on the street stage, Lissy Trullie was truly outstanding. Lead vocalist Lissy Trullie, with her celebrated boyish and pixieish swagger, and stunning bassist Harley Viera-Newton ("Marry me, Harley!" and "I love you!" were cries from people standing near me) aren't just pretty faces. The band backs up any hype with jewels like "Self-Taught Learner," and the drummer, Josh, is one of the best we've seen lately. Next to us a toddler in diapers was dancing with his toy truck. We were really sorry when their set ended and hope to see them again.

At Galapagos' main room, we liked what we saw of The Bloodsugars, a sweet but not too sweet Brooklyn synth-pop/garage-rock band that plays stuff that's both intelligent and danceable, bouncy and soulful. We liked their "Breakfast on the BQE" an awful lot: Jason Rabinowitz's Costelloesque vocals are flawless, eerie and haunting. We came in somewhat late on their set and would have liked to hear it all.

Dinowalrus, another smart local Brooklyn band, performed at the Music Hall, and they showed off an incredible range in their instrumentation. A drum-and-drone trio that wickedly employs self-sustaining electronic devices like the optical theremin and G-d knows what else they have up there to expand their sound, Dinowalrus' improvisational-sounding riffs kept us curious waiting for what was coming next.

After the Jump is the joint effort of 20 New York City music bloggers whose sites attract over one million readers a week. Founded last year in support of underfunded city school music programs, After the Jump has planned and staged concerts in association with the massive South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin and the CMJ Music Marathon here in New York City as well as the all day and night festival last summer in Brooklyn. Today's events are a terrific reprise of that event.

Those of us born in the Truman administration got the benefit of a superb public-school music education (Miss Ferrara at P.S. 203, Mrs. Sanders at J.H.S. 285, and a Midwood High School teacher who told us about this kid Bob Dylan) that's been decimated in recent years. You can support music education in city schools by checking out After The Jump and going to this evening's benefit show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, starting at 7:30 p.m. and featuring Health, Titus Andronicus, Pattern is Movement, Mixel Pixel and lots more.

We had a great time this afternoon and are grateful for After The Jump. Isn't life wonderful!
Health performing "Crimewave" at After the Jump (courtesy Baeble Music)

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