Though the forecast last night called for possible thunderstorms, luckily there was no lightening in sight to prompt the cancellation of the show (or compromise safety), and a modest crowd gathered on Pier 54 to see the last show of the summer in the Hudson River Park's RiverRocks series. The smell of sea water, rain, and cigarettes permeated the air and helped set the mood for Real Estate's nostalgia-inducing music.
After some introductory words (guitarist Matt Mondanile said 'hi' to his mom), Real Estate began their set with a slower tune. In both their music and their attitudes, the Jersey-based four-piece seem both carefree and sincere. In between songs, they each contribute to the stage banter by playing off what another member said. After the first song, lead singer and guitarist Martin Courtney tried to bridge the divide between the crowd and the stage by inviting people to jump the barrier, but the restrictions remained in place. The crowd, did listen to bassist Alex Bleeker's suggestion to "jump around a little bit," when the band broke into "Beach Comber," however.
They may not have the loftiest lyrics (a new song contained the lines: "Water's not for me. Head downtown. People walking around"), but even when they're singing the same line about Budweiser and Sprite on repeat ("Suburban Beverage"), the music and melodies will get stuck in your head. Real Estate just released their debut album last year, but they played three new songs during their set, two of which are slated to be on an upcoming 7". Like their old material, the new tunes also seem to be inspired by the beach and suburban living.
In between the two sets, the volume of the background music increased noticeably in preparation for Deerhunter's set, and Real Estate's sunnier treble-heavy music was replaced by a heavier mix that prominently featured the bass line (sadly at the cost of the vox).
After a glowing endorsement by one of the event organizers, the members of Deerhunter assembled themselves on stage [to play to those not over on Governors Island or in East River Park checking out White Rabbits]. "How's everyone doing tonight? We're so happy you guys came out tonight, and I'm glad it's not pouring [...] There's a lot of stuff going on tonight, so it means a lot that you spent it with us," said Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox by way of introduction.
Cox may have talked a lot immediately preceding the set (partly to stall while bassist Joshua Fauver got ready), but in an uncharacteristically mum move, he stopped just once (and then only after the fourth song), and said only the obligatory, "Thank you very much." Maybe Cox was hoping to power through the set before the weather worsened or maybe he was simply trying to squeeze in the most songs possible, but often, the band transitioned from one song to the next without even stopping for applause, which made it hard to tell when songs finished and began. Their set list consisted of both material from their upcoming release, Halcyon Digest, and crowd pleasers like "Hazel St." and "Never Stops."
At some point midset, a strange mosh pit of sorts broke out, and people flocked to the front to get in on the action. It started out as a concentrated mass in the middle of the crowd, but soon, people started shuffling back and forth (to the extreme left and then back to the right), as if the movements were choreographed.
Since there was no 'last song' warning, the band's departure was rather abrupt, but the music continued on loop after the stage was empty. Still without uttering a word, Cox launched into a couple of recognizable songs for the encore, as if rewarding those who stuck it out in the rain. Deerhunter may have only played two songs (I think), but those songs unfolded for an impressive 25 minutes thanks to a long detour into drone territory before Cox tied it up a bit at the end when the guitar melody returned more distinctly.
"Thanks so much for getting wet for us. I hope you guys have a great safe rest of the night" Cox said as the music slowly faded out.
Though the crowd may have been smaller due to the weather (and due to the concurrent Grizzly Bear show), people were in good spirits - even after the rain picked up again at the end of Deerhunter's set. There was almost an extra note of camaraderie brought on by the rain - a 'we're in this together' kind of feeling. I can only bet that both sweat and satisfaction were high for those who made it out to Glasslands to see Deerhunter's DJ set and a show by Ducktails (which features Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile).
Partial setlists from both bands, and more pictures from the show, below...
Real Estate PARTIAL Set list (help?)
Deerhunter PARTIAL Set list (help?)
Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Spring Hall Convert
10 (a long intro? Just noise)
Helicopter (a new song from upcoming Halcyon Digest)
Nothing Ever Happened