There is untold fun to be had for free in New York. Not normal free fun, like sitting in a park or something (though you can do that), but actual stuff that you would pay to do. Owing possibly to an overwhelming karmic guilt at the fact that it spends every second of its unsleeping existence trying to suck money out of you, New York has decided to put on roughly thirty bands I want to see, for free, over the summer. And a few hundred more I don’t want to see, too.
It started with Dan Deacon in a park in Red Hook. With a friend about as into Dan Deacon as I am (a little bit, depending on circumstance) and one who had never even heard him before, I rolled up. “Which one is Dan Deacon?” said the one who had never heard him, as we watched the ensemble set up. “The bald guy with the glasses.” “Fuck off!” “No, it is!”
It started slow, partially because it was still bright when they started. There wasn’t a whole lot of variety in the crowd. Some token kids were running around at the back, but it’s not like they set up fun family activities or anything. Dan Deacon would provide excellent family fun in theory, I suppose, but it doesn’t really work like that in practice. Median age: 19ish. Mean age: 17ish. Mean t-shirt: “I Wanna Ride Bikes With You” with a cartoon bike, on a brown t-shirt.
Those who knew got straight to dancing. As it got darker, things got more intense. You know how it goes. Crowd-wide interpretive dance. Dance-offs. Lots of crowd surfing. By the time it got to 9 o’clock, the green skull was flashing and the crowd, pretty much par for the course, went mental. Mr. Deacon, ever the magnanimous dance party host, was kind enough to impart the words of Silence Like The Wind to the lesser fans before the song started. And then it flipped. Lights flashing, people jumping, me singing it as if it was my favourite song in the world. You know yourself.
All the moves were pulled. Just the guys sing. Just the girls sing. Only the left. Only the right. Only those over thirty – met with two awkward cheers and a lot of laughter. Quiet as you can…. a little bit louder now. For someone who joked about being voted Worst Boss at Bonnaroo by Spin Magazine by saying “I hope that means I’m least like Bruce Springsteen”, he had the body electric hanging on his every word.
And then they finished with Wham City, of course. Denny from Double Dagger was there, smashing the fuck out of drums. Interview with them on the way. Wham City – song, record label, general musical aesthetic – just made me think about how incredible it would be to actually be from Baltimore, fully into that scene, singing along to the words. Someone write a Dublin anthem.