photos by Chris La Putt, words by Andrew Sacher
Guided by Voices/Cloud Nothings
One of the many shows that went down in NYC this past weekend as part of the CBGB Festival was the big, free day show at Central Park Summerstage on Saturday (7/7) with Guided by Voices, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The War On Drugs, and Cloud Nothings. Despite the heat wave that hit NYC over the weekend, many braved the high temperatures to catch this stacked show, which was pretty packed from start to finish. Presumably because it was a 4-band bill and was a day show, the openers got pretty short sets, but nonetheless all four bands were great and little time was wasted.
Cloud Nothings kicked off the day at 3 PM with a 5-song set that relied entirely on this year's Attack on Memory. Considering how short the set was, they did manage to keep things pretty varied. Between "Separation," the interlude they prefaced it with, and the extended jam of "Wasted Days," about half of their set was instrumental, and they balanced that with the album's two poppiest tracks, "Stay Useless" and "Fall In." A hot sunny day in central park isn't exactly the appropriate place for a mosh pit or anything, but there was a good amount of dancing and singing along, especially during the closing screams of "Wasted Days."
Then The War on Drugs cooled things off with their breezy folk rock, opening strong with Slave Ambient standout, "Baby Missiles." The band's floaty atmospheres can get pretty meandering (in a good way), but are always grounded by the band's relentlessly upbeat drummer. They work in nice touches of noise and ambience, most notably doing so when the bassist played a droning trumpet through an effect laden mic before going into the anthemic "Come to the City."
Up next were The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who immediately woke up the lazy, sweat-dripping crowd with a super energetic set, kickstarted by the driving "Heaven's Gonna Happen Now." Frontman Kip Berman doesn't let up for the entire show, rocking out through every song while bearing a spot-on delivery. They played a pretty solid mix of material off both full lengths, all of which were bright pop blasts, delivered even clearer and bigger than the increased lo-to-mid-fi production on the newer album. The band, who on Saturday were augmented by Connor from The Drums on second guitar, didn't really hit any low points and played through tons of favorites like "Young Adult Friction," "Heart In Your Heartbreak," and more.
The show wrapped up with the much-anticipated headlining set by Guided by Voices which came after multiple crowd chants of "GBV, GBV, GBV!" The band, whose influential brand of lo-fi was responsible for helping to set the groundwork that all three of the opening bands heavily work into their sound, walked on stage, cigarettes in hand, and in extremely high spirits for the appreciative crowd. They focused their set mostly on material off of their two 2012 full lengths, Let's Go Eat the Factory and Class Clown Spots a UFO, their first two albums since 2004. Because of GBV's notoriously short songs, they only took about ten minutes to bang out the same amount of songs that the opening bands played in their entire sets, and both the band and the crowd were really into it. Robert Pollard's playful stage banter was intact (he said something about how during his last Central Park show he got in trouble for throwing beer cans into the audience) and the band's on-stage demeanor was just as lively, complete with split kicks from guitarist Mitch Mitchell, and the head-nodding, singing-along bassist, Greg Demos.
More pictures from the Central Park show, including one of GBV's setlist, are below...
War on Drugs
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Guided by Voices