20 Watts

Summer 2010 Coverage: The Fly @ Sidewalk Cafe and Free Energy, Best Coast, Loose Limbs @ South St. Seaport by 20watts
August 11, 2010, 12:17 am
Filed under: Summer Concerts 2010 | Tags: , , ,

The Fly at Sidewalk Cafe (Photo by Jamie Kapili

Between the South Street Seaport’s hosting of the River to River Festival and the Sidewalk Cafe’s penchant for hosting tight, energetic, up-and-comers, free music was covered Friday July 23, with a night of lo-fi silliness, stridently popping youth-rock and R&B showmanship. 20 Watts was able to check out shows from two venues and four bands on Friday: Loose Limbs, Best Coast, Free Energy and Syracuse natives The Fly. READ FULL REVIEW HERE


Loose Limbs started our night off right at one of River to River Festival’s typical Friday nights: a three-act show from great bands who had just put out fine albums. In Loose Limbs’ case, they had just released a 7″ on Seaport Music Records, and decided to tell the crowd when they weren’t chugging through their spare singles of garage-y guitar pop. Loose Limbs played tightly and trade instruments a few times, but the crowd was present mainly for Free Energy and recent blog-blowup Best Coast.


Indie-pop seamstress Bethany Cosentino and her outfit Best Coast to their credit sounded remarkably faithful to what you hear on their debut full-length Crazy for You. And whether it was the lo-fi or the pop in her simple, summer-spun tunes, the crowd dug the songs enough to nod their heads, shake their hips and maybe even  sing along with Cosentino’s male-driven plights of frenzy.


However, no performance was nearly as impressive as the inscrutable Free Energy’s. Kickstarting their set with a more positive force than The Polyphonic Spree’s “Light and Day” moment on Scrubs, they jumped, soloed and yelped, powering through their first song like rabid dogs hopped up on E. Their songs translated perfectly to the stage as they projected their happy-as-fuck sun-pop formula onto a heartily receptive crowd populated by dancing babies, bums and of course hipsters.

Free Energy chose their name well. Promoter and hype-man Stephen Dima, who also helps curate the festival, fondly recalled them playing as Hockey Night, over six years ago, in addition to an appearance on his radio show. Who knows how their performance on SPIN Magazine’s roof will fly? If it’s anything like what they gave at River to River’s South Street Seaport show, it’s sure to blow  SPIN’s staff clear off the sides of the building.


The best part about The Fly is that they are an ever-changing, evolving entity — one that’s gone from playing shows in tiny Syracuse holes to respected New York City venues like the famous Sidewalk Cafe.

The Fly’s shtick hasn’t really changed, despite their new instrumentalists. Keith Smith and Farasha Baylock still rock out, rap at the crowd, slow it down and finally zonk out. With their latest performance though, whether it was the NYC air or just growing as artists, they haven’t so much dialed it down as fuzzed it out.

There’s more of a determined theatricality to their raw energy. Where some of their songs were amped-up chargers, now they might be R&B crooners. Where before they might have worn jeans and workout tights, now Smith and Baylock sport slacks and a dress. Even so, their cut “Middle Fingers & Hate Mail” has been altered to have them explicitly say “fuck you” instead of “eff you,” before it progresses into a metal-scream jam song.

I don’t think we’ll ever say the energy isn’t there. The Fly closed the night off with Smith wildly hurtling around the room, spitting lines from “Define Us” at the top of his lungs and urging the audience to fist-pump. There’s a certain rawness that The Fly will hopefully never lose. However, they would do much better if they knew when to dial it down and when to kick into overdrive. While the vast majority of their set (in spite and because of their evolution) was flawless, their final song “Define Us” lost momentum before it should have. That said, this won’t cripple a good band, and I’m fairly certain The Fly are good enough to know that they’re good, and to know that they shouldn’t ever stop innovating onstage and in their songwriting.

— Eric Vilas-Boas

WATCH: The Fly Perform at Sidewalk Cafe

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