Ok, I'll admit it. The first time I heard about BAM's Crossing the Ferry series, I quickly concocted an idyllic scenario that may or may not have involved sipping white wine on the deck of a boat lit with twinkling Christmas tree lights with Sufjan or an unidentified Dessner brother at my side. (Really, could someone get on the whole ferry show idea, please? Something other than the booze cruise?) Luckily, I had a few days for the disappointment to wear off.
Curated by the Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, The Crossing the Ferry series is a three-night, multi-room spectacle of music and film. Many of the likely suspects are there (My Brightest Diamond and Beirut Saturday, Sharon Van Etten on Thursday). But there are also a few wild cards.
Due to an early start time, I missed the first few sets, but arrived on Friday in time to catch a few in rapid succession, starting with the indie-soul outfit Ava Luna, who had a much more raucous, percussion-heavy sound than I remember. Back downstairs in the gorgeous Howard Gilman Opera House, I caught an intense performative DJ set by composer Tyondai Braxton (formerly of Battles) who sat atop a crazy metal table, surrounded by a complex web of blinking lights, laptops, and samplers.
The back and forth nature of the event created a festival-like atmosphere. Following Braxton's set, I headed back to the BAM Cafe to check out another artist I had never seen - Sinkane, whose spacey sound effects seemed a good match for the room's clean, futuristic design. Though the cafe space itself was visually appealing, the acoustics were lacking, so I soon set up camp in the Opera House where impeccable sound and gorgeous lighting provided the perfect accompaniment for The Antlers' brooding, atmospheric sound. With the exception of a song or two (including one that was brand new), The Antlers focused on the material from last year's Burst Apart.
With the upstairs cafe running some 20 minutes behind, I regretfully decided to skip Buke & Gass to ensure a prime seat for St. Vincent. While The Antler's multi-layered, methodical sound encouraged me to sink calmly into my plush red seat, I quickly perked up from the first notes of St. Vincent's set. Clad in rock star black, her hair loose and wild, Annie Clark is a force behind the guitar and a charmer at the mic.
Backed by a talented three-piece band, Clark covered a wide array of songs, from a handful of older favorites ("Actor Out of Work" and "Marrow") to a number from last year's excellent Strange Mercy and a cover by The Pop Group ("She Is Beyond Good and Evil"). During "Krocodil," an aggressive new song (that was released as an exclusive 7" for Record Store Day), Clark catapulted off stage and forcefully made her way through the crowd, stepping onto chairs and reaching out to hit people as she made her way. (There's video below.) After fearlessly crowd surfing in the orchestra pit, she managed to end up back in stage at precisely the last moment of the song, and darted off, only to return for a brief encore ("Your Lips are Red").
Pictures and video from night 1 are here. Night 3 is on the way. Pictures from all the night 2 bands are below, along with video of St. Vincent performing "Krokodil."
Buke and Gase
St. Vincent - "Krokodil"