Posted in music | pictures on May 4, 2012

words by Andrew Frisicano, photos by David Andrako

The Walkmen @ BAM
The Walkmen

BAM's Bryce and Aaron Dessner-curated Crossing Brooklyn Ferry series/festival had its first night Thursday. It continues tonight/Friday with a lineup headlined by St. Vincent and The Antlers (and Saturday with Beirut and Atlas Sound).

Music kicked off at 5pm with early slots filled by indie-classical acts like yMusic and JACK Quartet. Composer-uke-player Jherek Bischoff started things out inside the Howard Gilman Opera House at 7pm, and his set featured guest spots from David Byrne and Amanda Palmer. Check out the pictures below.

The first band I saw was Twin Shadow, an act that always sounds a lot better to me on record than live (something about George Lewis Jr.'s voice and the intricacies of the production don't translate exactly on stage). A welcome special guest, the Blackfire Percussion, added drum corp percussion on a few of the songs.

Sharon Van Etten powered through a set that highlighted how much she's evolved since her early acoustic days. She offered a throwback to her Because I Was In Love debut with a solo version of "I Fold" dedicated to her parents. Aaron Dessner, who produced Tramp, played guitar on a few of the tracks. And Sharon tapped "Serpents" for the triumphant, soaring closer.

Sharon Van Etten @ BAM
Sharon Van Etten

The Walkmen navigated a set of new tunes and classics: in addition to putting out their sixth LP, Heaven, in June, this year marks the 10th-anniversary of their debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. Among the songs played were "Angela Surf City," "In the New Year," "Blue As Your Blood" and new tracks "Heaven," "Heartbreaker" and "Southern Heart." Hamilton, as always, stretched the limits of his voice to good effect, especially on the haunting A Hundred Miles Off track "All Hands and the Cook." The band closed with an encore of "We've Been Had," which they noted was the first song they wrote as a band.

Between those last two I ventured to the BAM Cafe to see Zs, playing as a duo and sounding completed different than the last time I saw them in July. Guitarist Ben Greenberg describes the change as "The old stuff was like an old Soviet tank driving down Main Street; the new stuff is like a spaceship landing on City Hall." The shift from angular guitar and skronking saxophone to whatever they do now was pretty evident in the small snippet that I caught. Greenberg's guitar laid dubby rhythms lines while Sam Hilmer's sax played melodies and riffs off in the distance. Hopefully they'll line up more shows soon. (As Hubble, Greenberg makes the NYC debut of that project's "quadraphonic Hubble Superposition set" tonight.)

After that I caught a few songs by Yellowbirds, hidden up in Cinema 3 and playing to a crowd of about 20 people (including Conrad Doucette). The Jonathan Richman-esque two-piece was a nice surprise to find soaked in the smell of movie-theater popcorn.

(People Get Ready and Heather Broderick played, and a program of short films screened, but I arrived too late to see them. And I only caught a snippet of Callers by skipping the end of Twin Shadow.)

One bummer about the schedule is that, with the exception of the extremely early classical sets, it's impossible to see more than a few minutes of the smaller bands without skipping the headlining acts. That scheduling, and the vague, unnecessary "Brooklyn" theme, are a bit puzzling, but all in all the fest is a good chance to see bands like the Walkmen and Sharon Van Etten in the gorgeous Howard Gilman Opera House, a space that's surprisingly intimate and cozy for its size (and having the first few rows of seats removed for the crowd to stand was a nice touch).

More pictures from Thursday below...

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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

yMusic

yMusic

yMusic

yMusic

yMusic

yMusic

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Jen Goma and Jherek Bischoff

Jen Goma and Jherek Bischoff

Jen Goma

Jherek Bischoff

Jherek Bischoff

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer

Jherek Bischoff

David Byrne and Jherek Bischoff

David Byrne and Jherek Bischoff

David Byrne and Jherek Bischoff

David Byrne and Jherek Bischoff

David Byrne and Jherek Bischoff

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

People Get Ready

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Callers

Callers

Callers

Callers

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Aaron Dessner

Aaron Dessner

ZS

ZS

ZS

ZS

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

The Walkmen

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

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Comments (36)

Sharon, you are the most annoying woman to ever grace a stage!

Posted by ME | May 4, 2012 4:04 PM

what was the seating situation like? i.e. if you show up at 9pm, where are you gonna be sitting in that huge ass auditorium?

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:06 PM

Were you the guy talking shit from the floor?

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:06 PM

the walkmen's "Blue Is My Blood"

maybe you should, i don't know, just google a band's SONG TITLE if you're not sure of them before writing them out in a review of a widely-read blog. embarrassing. are you got comped for this?

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:11 PM

sharon is so hot.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:21 PM

^Lighten up chump.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:23 PM

4.06 - Plenty of seats, the place is huge. We walked in just before The Walkmen and scored center seats about halfway from the stage. Balconies another option. You could also stand in the "pit" in front of the stage. And, the sound was terrific....much better than Radio City or the Beacon IMO.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:26 PM

Did Ian take a piss during Zs set or what's up with the deserted drums?

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:27 PM

@ 4:06 it was pretty easy to get a good spot for the Walkmen. My friend and I caught most of Zs set in the cafe and headed down a few minutes before they hit the stage and ended up getting front row seats.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:28 PM

4:04 - I'm with 4:21 on this one. No one that hot can be that annoying.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:30 PM

Sharon Van MEHtten

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:41 PM

nice, there's a pit situation? i was wondering if BAM would do that since the show is GA. anyway, sounds like seating isn't the hassle i thought it'd be. thanks for htei nfo.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:41 PM

Wow! David Byrne is dressed normal!

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:44 PM

I'm 4:23. My comment was meant for 4:11...not 4:21.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:51 PM

How is it vague (or unnecessary) for a festival at BAM, i.e. the BROOKLYN Academy of Music, to have a Brooklyn theme? Where do the people who write these things come from?

I had know idea Sharon Van Etten was so hot.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 4:57 PM

who cares her music is no good

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:06 PM

Damn! Sharon is hot.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:24 PM

Dude I totally saw you there. You were the white guy, right?!

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:26 PM

4:57 — My thoughts exactly. And a vast majority, if not all, of the acts are Brooklyn-based or associated. Numerous folks made mention of walking over / living nearby.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:38 PM

I realize that it is pointless to complain about a review on Brooklyn Vegan but the drivel above is some weak sauce. I'm willing to bet that Andrew didn't set foot in BAM last night.

No mention of the energy being drained out of the room by Sharon Van Etten? Twin Shadow's set was at least enjoyable as opposed to the funeral dirges that Sharon dropped on stage. I thought the whole point of being a performer is to entertain the audience, not to make them fall asleep.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:39 PM

And yes - VERY pleasantly surprised by the incredible ease of moving from room to room / getting great spots. Very efficient & impressive event, and amazing sound.

Shocked by this middling review actually (and not just by the errors). I thought Twin Shadow's set blew away his recorded output by miles, and Hamilton's vocal performance in that room... Far, far beyond "good effect".

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:47 PM

Sharon's only hot here because she's wearing makeup. Look at some pics of her from a few years back...yuck.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 5:49 PM

nah twin shadow sucks bro, live

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 6:11 PM

I feel the opposite about twin shadow. saw them at glasslands. they ripped it. he put together a great band. the drummer especially..

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 6:29 PM

Twin Shadow is 10x better than previous shows. Again, why no mention of the drumline that joined them last night? One would think that a reviewer would notice a group of 10 drummers on stage.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 6:54 PM

4:06 It was pretty easy to find a decent seat in the orchestra. Don't know how full the balcony was.

4:11 "Blue as your blood" very embarrassed. thanks.

4:57 It's unnecessary because the lineup, with a few exceptions, is more about the Dessners and their colleagues/friends, which is fine. They did get some people outside their circle involved, but like I said above, it was impossible to catch overlapping bands for more than a few minutes.

5:47 Agreed. It was super easy to move around from stage to stage.

6:54 PM I did mention them.

Posted by Andrew | May 4, 2012 7:36 PM

I'm accustomed to the comments on this site being douchey in general, but this is above and beyond. The comments about Sharon Van Etten and whether or not she is hot are offensive and inexcusable. Whether or not you like her music, she at least deserves the respect of not being treated like a piece of meat. I thought her set was great and was shocked that the crowd wasn't into her.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 8:11 PM

Sounds like van etten hasn't gotten any better since I saw her at music hall. In the photo with dresser above I knew what she was doing: telling a pointless, not funny story laughing while nervously tuning her guitar. Then play another boring song that sounds exactly like the one before. At least she's learned to close with her strongest, Serpents. Though BV always pretends she was amazing live...

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 10:48 PM

8:39 Wow, that's really insightful. Since she's nowhere near "the top," perhaps you can share with us the flaws in her technique. Or maybe she's just wasting her time blowing people like you instead of people who matter?

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2012 11:20 PM

8:11 - why is it wrong to say that sharon totally gets my dick hard and i fantasize about face fucking her?

Posted by Anonymous | May 5, 2012 7:35 AM

^Seriously? C'mon.

Posted by Anonymous | May 5, 2012 1:06 PM

ha

Posted by Anonymous | May 5, 2012 2:47 PM

Saw twin shadow. New bass player?

Posted by Anonymous | May 6, 2012 1:32 AM

7:35 nothing wrong with that absolutely nothing

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 3:19 AM

It was like a church. Weirdly quiet. I didn't think that it was because Sharon wasn't playing well. There was a noticeable lack of crowd douchery (e.g., no yack yack yack during the performance, screaming "whoooo" during dramatic quiet parts, cellphone videoing, etc.), so I think it was just kids' night off. A bit staid, but a nice change of pace.

The Bischoff performance was very good except for some audio problems (buzz,buzz). The next three bands would have ruled the world 25 years ago. Now, not so much. The Twin Shadow dude is a cross between Prince and Brian Ferry. Someone once told him he could sing and he sadly believed them. He is otherwise talented and his band has a good keyboardist.

Sharon was OK and I liked the vocal harmonies. 'Nuff said. The Walkmen may have some talent, but the singer just ain't frickin' Robert Plant, as I heard someone say. I think he's more of a Steve Perry wannabe. The main guitarist has had the same schtick since his Jonathan Fire*Eater days, and it has been a while. Loved the venue, nice idea, get better bands.

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 3:21 PM

^
dude, you are really over thinking things. especially in reference to the walkmen singer. it's not nearly how you see it..

Posted by Anonymous | May 7, 2012 4:55 PM

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