DOWNLOAD: The Secret History - It's Not the End of the World Jonah (MP3)
The Secret History
The New York City Popfest continued on Saturday night (5/16) with a packed line-up and packed house at Brooklyn's Bell House. Following openers Computer Perfection, California-based Eux Autres put in a super energetic set. From the persistent "bam bam bam" of the drums to the classic trade off of boy/girl vocals complete with girl group-esque harmonies, Eux Autres captured true the pop spirit of the festival. The were buoyed by trumpet playing from the Ladybug Transistor's Gary Olson, Brooklyn's go-to musician for indie trumpeting.
The Secret History, who rose from the ashes of indie new wave darlings My Favorite, followed with pop melodies from the eerie, narrative driven side of the spectrum. Lead vocalist Lisa Ronson, clad in all black, and vocalist Erin Dermondy, clad in all white, were a glamorous site, but were too frozen at times for the dramatics the songs demanded as they invoked monsters and dead rock stars. Lisa's talents as a singer were best showcased during a cover of the Smiths' "Reel Around the Fountain," which singer and keyboardist Michael Grace, Jr. explained was "the reason he started writing pop songs and will never write a hit." At one point during the set Michael wore a tambourine as a halo, which served as a fitting popfest metaphor.
Following The Secret History's densely orchestrated anthems, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pant Yell! played an enjoyably straight-ahead, indie rock set. It was heavy on the jangly guitar and three boys in the band wore their earnest hearts on their stripped sleeves.
The lineup's crown jewel were Swedish headliners The Radio Dept. in their second US appearance since 2003 (their first was one night earlier). The band delivered shimmering, dreamy pop with plenty of laptop-based layers and effects-laden guitars to keep Shoegaze fans satisfied. Their use of electronic, as opposed to live, drums made their set musically less energetic than the other bands, but the sound was still nice and full and the energy on the stage dynamic.
While from stage The Radio Dept. delivered down tempo, atmospheric pop with song titles like "I Wanted You to Feel the Same" and "The Worst Taste in Music" the sold-out crowd acted like they were at the indie-pop equivalent of an arena rock concert. The merest "thank you" uttered by the band brought forth roaring applause and cheers. While The Radio Dept.'s danceable beats and charming crush of sounds seem best suited for mild-mannered bopping, the activity of most of the crowd during their set, they also inspired fist pumping and ecstatic hand waving. After their one-song encore legions of fans rushed towards the stage to thank the band as they exited to howling applause. It was clear Brooklynites demand their pop and have high expectations for Swedish bands to deliver it. Thought their set felt short at 40 minutes, The Radio Dept. fans were not disappointed.
The Secret History
The Radio Dept.
Here's another of The Radio Dept at Don Hill's:
And the Tartans at that venue too:
And one of the Smittens covering the Golden Girls theme at Cake Shop:
More PopFest coverage coming. Check out Day Two if you haven't already.