Going to free gigs in parks is great and all, but sometimes you wake up early on a Saturday afternoon and you want nothing more than to go to a free gig on an island. Thankfully, New York is made of islands, but for those for whom the novelty of the main islands has worn off, there’s Gone to Governor’s.
Converse, who successfully sell the same shoe to everyone three times a year because their natural instinct to develop holes in themselves pretty much undermines the little rainproofing they provided anyway, put on a series of gigs on Governor’s Island. Governor’s Island’s a small island off Manhattan. I’m not sure what it’s for. It has some vaguely period-looking buildings and some trees on it, but that’s not why I was there.
Right across from the southeastern tip of Manhattan, they set up a stage and a load of festival type stuff. But not exactly like European festival type stuff. Food, yes. Beer, yes. But waitress service? At a gig? Ridiculous. And a fake beach? Fake palm trees that silhouette against the impressively colourful pollution sunset and then light up in primary colours? Wonderful.
As the first support, who were so like the Cure as to not even be worth mentioning, said: “this is the most beautiful place we’ve ever played a show”. And it is. The stuff is fake, but it’s a sunny evening and there’s a beach.
After The Cure finished, Freelance Whales started. As someone who does freelance stuff, and a general supporter of the idea of whales, I had medium expectations, but they were a little campy for my taste. Postal Service/Arcade Fire on a watered down scale, with a cursory banjo on the last song.
But Morning Benders, who I had also never heard, were impressive. For a band who are a few miles from the edge of the Venn diagram for indie rock, they have startlingly large basslines, and their intense-to-laid back-to intense rhythmic shifts were the perfect thing for the darkening fake beach. Also, they played covers. Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams: terrible, possibly due to its inexorable link to the Corrs. New Order’s Ceremony: winding. With another friend tired of polite standing, I moved to some open beach and danced, and if you could print screen happy emotions onto a postcard, it’s a moment I’d have on my wall forever.
They ended with a multi-harmony extravaganza, skirting hamminess by just being straight up good, before we all walked back to the ferry and sped back to skyscrapers and free copies of The Onion in streetside newspaper holding-things. And then we walked home across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is getting ridiculous.