20 Watts

Editors Pick #140: Best Sets at Siren by caitlindewey
20 Watts picks our favorite sets at Siren

20 Watts picks/predicts the best sets at Coney Island's Siren Festival

As phenomenal as it is to see a bunch of awesome bands together, music festivals do have their drawbacks.  There are crowds, for starters — huge, unpredictable, often inebriated masses, which will crowd you out from the front of the stage, crowd surf at totally inappropriate times, and elbow you in the face when you’re trying to take a photograph (…not that I speak from experience, or anything).  There’s the food, which is always overpriced and almost always inedible, depending on how much you’ve had to drink.  Then there’s the sweltering heat, the sunburn, the tall dude who had to stand RIGHT in front of you, the gaggle of 16-year-olds giggling at the rear.

But the biggest problem of all, by far, is choosing which bands to see when several sets occur at the same, or almost the same, times.

Coney Island’s Siren Festival is kind enough to stagger their sets.  But in case you don’t want to sprint from stage to stage, or (God forbid) take a breather between the hours of 1:00 and 8:00, these are my personal Siren picks.

1:00 — Tiny Masters of Today [Main Stage]

Adolescent duo with serious industry cred splat out bratty punk anthems.  Are they awesome because they’re barely in high school, or because the chorus on “K.I.D.S.” is so fun to jam out to?  I’m not entirely sure, but David Bowie’s called their work “genius.”

2:00 — Micachu & The Shapes [Main Stage]

Unconventional and often inaccessible “pop,” played on customized or homemade instruments.  One part garage, one part glitch, and several parts awesome.

3:00 — Japandroids [Main Stage]

Simple, straightforward, no frills garage rock that could have come straight from the 1990s.  Something that sounds this fun on an album must be really incredible live.

4:00 — Frightened Rabbit [Main Stage]

You’ll find Frightened Rabbit somewhere between emo and a Glasglow pub, singing hyper-masculine ballads in a vulnerable brogue.  Last year’s Midnight Organ Fight made many critics’ best of ’08 lists, and the opening one minute of “Music Now” made my life, pretty much.  On several occasions.

5:30 — A Place To Bury Strangers [Stillwell Stage]

Shoegaze that looks outward?  Now there’s a novel concept.  A Place To Bury Strangers are sonically huge and rumored to have a mind-blowing live show.

6:00 — The Raveonettes [Main Stage]

Probably my top pick of the day (seriously — see these two), The Raveonettes hail from Denmark and play dark, noise-drenched, electric noise pop in the tradition of their self-avowed influences, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine.

7:30 — Built to Spill [Main Stage]

Perhaps the Siren Festival themselves put it best: “Built to Spill is an institution.”  With a storied 17-year career behind them, these indie rock giants are worth any festival crowd or sweltering temperature — you can take my word on it.

— Caitlin Dewey, editorial director

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