20 Watts


Memories and Photos from Siren 2010 by 20watts

Kamara Thomas of Earl Greyhound

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 20 Watts at SIREN 2009

To Coney Island’s ever-looming gentrification and eventual decline in cool, the Village Voice’s yearly Siren Fest is a welcome spit to the eye, and 2010 was no different. Upon arriving to the festivities a bit late and taking a gander at the stacked lineup, we decided to hit Surfer Blood, Earl Greyhound, Cymbals Eat Guitars,  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Holy Fuck.

Surfer Blood displayed impressive talent for a band so young that sang mostly about being young. Powering through their debut album’s hits including “Swim” and the David Lynch and Syracuse ode “Twin Peaks.” In a classic display of Siren buzz-band showboating, their drummer Tyler Schwarz leaped offstage during their set and made his way to the crowd barrier to hand a drum off to an audience member. While the audience failed to maintain Surfer Blood’s rhythm, it’s not like the band suffered from it.

John Paul Pitts of Surfer Blood

Earl Greyhound chugged through an impressive set with an eclectic mixture of harmonic vocalizing from bassist Kamara Thomas and guitarist Matt Whyte and groove- and jam-heavy song structures. They even Radioheaded their album Suspicious Package out to crowd members after their set from their merch booth.

On the main stage, hometown heroes The Pains of Being Pure at Heart offered showgoers the same energy they always have, with twin-guitar melodies and the earnest that makes them both infectious and accessible. Praising Screaming Females earlier set (which we wish we totally regret missing), the Pains’ lead singer Kip Berman called them “everything good about music,” and said that he had teared up.

Cymbals Eat Guitars opened their set with three tight, screamed, guitar-driven songs that would likely appear on their next record, before frontman Joseph D’Agostinotold attendees “If you know the wa-hoos please do them with us.” The fans in the audience obliged him when they broke into their best song “And the Hazy Sea” from their debut Why There Are Mountains. In an awesomely odd way, their songs sound prettier live than on record — with more effects layering the guitar-work and more throaty treble in D’Agostino’s voice. It was a pleasant surprise seeing a band negatively compared to Modest Mouse shred like Modest Mouse doesn’t anymore.

Joseph D'Agostino of Cymbals Eat Guitars

The set that no one cared enough about to stay on the Stillwell Stage for — Holy Fuck — didn’t disappoint either. With live drumming, rotating keyboard- and synth- manipulation, and the thrashiest electronica this side of Hard Fest, Holy Fuck proved themselves more than capable of headlining alongside Matt & Kim, even if more might have made their way to that stage for Holy Fuck’s set.

All in all, Siren proved itself, yet again, to  be a superior musical experience. Screaming Females also played a phenomenal set which we were too unfortunate to catch and Ted Leo and his Pharmacists were smart enough to bring Marissa Paternoster back onstage to perform with them as well. Kim of Matt & Kim danced on the crowd and everyone had their fill of Nathan’s hot dogs and funnel cake. For as long as I’ve attended them (Peggy Wang from the Pains mentioned attending at the first), it’s been the big free music event to look forward to, just as it will be next year.

Berman summed it up nicely, “We’re playing Siren Fest and that’s pretty awesome.”

Story by Eric Vilas-Boas
Photos by Caitlin Dewey


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