The Loft, The Catenary Wires, #Poundsign# & more played Night 2 of NYC Popfest (pics)
photos by P Squared Photography; words by Bill Pearis
The Loft / Catenary Wires / #Poundsign# / Papa Topo
NYC Popfest happened over the weekend, bringing around 30 bands from countries all over world, united by jangly guitars and an affinity for cardigans. Friday night's show at Cameo (5/29) featured two UK cult '80s icons, most notably The Loft who were one of Creation Records' earliest signings and played their first-ever US show at Popfest. The band's ringing guitar sound, rooted in the Velvets and Television, is one that aged well, as has frontman Pete Astor, with a still-youthful face and smile. The band's set included their two best-known songs ("Why Does the Rain?" and "Up the Hill and Down the Slope") and a Richard Hell cover. "You guys know who Richard Hell is, right?" Astor asked the crowd, somewhat jokingly. Interestingly, their written setlist included a cover of Wire's "Outdoor Miner" but it was not played. Lloyd Cole, who lent The Loft one of his bandmembers for the night, watched from the back. Astor played a solo show (with an ad-hoc band) at Baby's All Right the next afternoon, also part of Popfest.
The other iconic Brits were The Catenary Wires, aka Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey who were also in such beloved indiepop bands as Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and Marine Research. Their latest project is their most gentle yet, basically just Pursey's guitar and Fletcher's voice, but they kept the crowd entertained with stories between songs.
A lot of people were also there for San Francisco's #Poundsign# who made two albums in the late-'90s and early-'00s. This is a band that I somehow missed entirely the first time around, but they played an enjoyably shaggy set.
The night also featured two bands from Spain -- Papa Topo and Jessica & the Fletchers -- who shared members and were both a bundle of energy. Papa Topo's funky dance music was a little different than your average Popfest band, which was definitely welcome on a night of otherwise politely strummed guitars. Speaking of, local openers Pale Lights, fronted by Brit Phil Sutton of Comet Gain, did indeed strum politely (not to stereotype but half the band are librarians), but they jangle with purpose, sounding more than a little like Lloyd Cole (or Felt). They're good.
After the bands, folks stuck around for the Popfest edition of indiepop danceparty Mondo!. It was a fun weekend. More pics from Friday night at Popfest, below....
Jessica & the Fletchers
The Catenary Wires