It would seem that Pier 84 is the place to be this summer. With 4Knots boasting an impressive lineup of bands a few weeks ago, Hudson RiverRocks is upholding the more independent side of things, considering the bands and the cost, which is zero dollars. The lineup consisted of Santa Monica’s Weyes Blood, Speedy Ortiz out of Massachusetts, and Alabama’s own Waxahatchee. The shows start around six, and they’re a great way to spend the hours between work and bed. Weyes Blood is a sleepy start to the evening, and for a moment I wonder if the weather is bending to meet their mood. Violet grey clouds hang overhead, and everyone is wondering at the possibility of a downpour.
Natalie Mering, who essentially is Weyes Blood, is wearing a red polka-dot dress under a white trench. Her long black hair is in a low, slack ponytail that lends her a Joan Baez quality. At first she plays solo, singing over her keyboard, but shortly after the first couple of tracks her band mates trickle onstage. Mering’s music is cinematic, almost score-like. Her voice is stunning, sweeping and angelic, but admittedly, depressing. It’s a winter sound, and though I enjoy it very much, I’m not sure it’s fitting for a Pier 84 summer stage. The crowd is mixed, half of them swaying calmly while the rest chuckle. It’s not for everyone I guess.
Speedy Ortiz on the other hand, sound like the headliners at a house party after a long day at the beach. They could be the band playing your prom in an eighties movie, or in a dark club in a nineties movie. In a word, they’re fun. Sadie Dupuis is a powerhouse front-woman who looks a bit riot grrrrl in her pleated skirt and knee socks. You can hear a lot of Sonic Youth and Pavement in their set, but Dupuis’ girlish vocals matched with stern delivery make for a fresh sound. And I can’t take my eyes of drummer Mike Falcone, who’s bang-on and provides quite the punch. Having just made a riotous appearance at South by Southwest (Hannibal Buress sat in on drums) and released their sophomore record Foil Deer, the band is turning out to be much loved by fans as well as fellow musicians. At Happyness’s Cake Shop gig in April, drummer Ash Cooper sported one of their t-shirts. “They’re great!” he beamed. Rightly so.
Towards the end of their set, we all feel a sprinkle. Just like that it’s lights out and go home. There’s fear of a massive thunder and lightning storm, and given the very electric nature of all the equipment on stage, the good people of Hudson River Park decide it’s not worth the risk. The show mustn’t go on after all. It’s sad and unfair news for Waxahatchee.
Be sure to check out the final installment of Hudson RiverRocks featuring Yuck and U.S. Girls this Thursday, August 6th at Pier 84. And don’t forget to bring an umbrella. Just in case.