Who says early shows suck? NYC Popfest's happy hour show at Piano's was blast and Pants Yell!'s show in particular was a corker and may take the prize of Best Performance at NYC Popfest 2008. (I missed Tullycraft... more on why in a bit.) A tight cohesive trio with a beast of a drummer, Pants Yell! were on fire (no cats needed) in the packed room. On their excellent third album from late last year, Alison Statton, they sound polite, but live it's more hyperkinetic. You could even say they rocked.
They know their history too. Their album is named after the singer of Young Marble Giants, and the t-shirts they were selling were emblazoned with the names of perhaps future albums: Amelia Fletcher, Aggi, Tracey Thorn, and Phoebe Summersquash. And speaking of that last name mentioned, Pants Yell! covered Small Factory's "Happy to See You" which made me like them even more.
MP3: Pants Yell! - Shoreham Kent
MP3: Small Factory - Happy to See You
The evening started with From Bubblegum to Sky, a punchy, fizzy band from pop maestro Mario Hernandez, who splits his time between NYC and the Bay Area. The band were playing with a fill-in drummer who only had three hours notice/practice but they pulled it off. This stuff is so sweet -- especially Hernandez's vocals -- that it might put off some listeners, but FBTS are more muscular live than on record, bringing it closer to Cheap Trick territory (with a healthy dose of Marc Bolan) than anything else. If interested, they're playing Union Hall on Thursday.
MP3: I Always Fall Apart
Brooklyn's The Besties are always fun and more often than not perform with some sort of high-concept gimmick (costumes, etc) but tonight's gimmick was to have no gimmick. Luckily they have energy, charm, and catchy tunes -- I don't think they need the other stuff at all.
I fully planned on seeing indie pop legends Tullycraft who were headlining the show and by the Besties finished the rock room at Pianos was packed to the gills. It's much smaller than it used to be, thanks to the newly added bar in there and a big merch table. I'd been enjoying the cheap happy hour beer and went for a pitstop before Tullycraft came on. As I walked out of room, the guy at the door said "If you leave you can't come back in." I thought he was talking about leaving Pianos, so I said "I'm just going to the bathroom." "If you leave the room you can't come back in." My bladder won, they wouldn't let me back in... so I left to go see Grand Archives at Bowery Ballroom.
By all reports, Tullycraft were bonkers and the crowd was going banannas with crowd surfing and everything. Next time, guys. My streak of missing Popfest headliners would continue throughout most of the weekend.