Across the Narrows Day 1 @ Keyspan Park
Gothamist returned to Coney Island on Saturday for the second time in two weekends to take in a show at Keyspan Park. While both had stellar bands playing, the mood this week was far different from the energetic evening the White Stripes gave us . Seven acts were set to take the stage between 1:30 and 10:00 this weekend: Nine Black Alps, Mando Diao, Death From Above 1979, Rilo Kiley, Built to Spill, Gang of Four and The Pixies. Out of all four of the Across the Narrows concerts this weekend, this seemed to be, all around, the strongest lineup. Despite this, the turnout on a beautiful fall day was miniscule. Maybe it was due to the fact that the bigger bands have all played New York rather frequently over the past year, but the park was notably empty up until the Pixies came on, and even then, the 8,500 seats remained almost completely empty and there was still plenty of space on the field. Very strange for the caliber of talent on the bill. It gave the whole festival a very amateurish feel.
One of the biggest highlights for us was The Nine Black Alps [pictured at right], who were making a second appearance opening a festival in Coney Island this summer (along with Siren Fest). While there were barely 300 people at there when they went on, they blew through a really strong set of grunge influenced brit-rock that undoubtedly impressed the few who made it out to the ballpark so early. It may be too soon to start talking about a full blown grunge revival, but were it to happen, these four young men would surely be near the forefront.
Following them was Mando Diao, who we were mostly unfamiliar with going into the show. While their set was competent, there was nothing that really stood out to us. Death From Above 1979 is a really impressive live band on a normal night, but at 3 in the afternoon in front of a near-empty ball field, they seemed to lack the edge and attitude to really let loose. The crowd grew slightly when Rilo Kiley came on. We loved them last year, but as they announced that this was the final show supporting their most recent album, the band seemed to about as sick of playing the material as we had gotten of hearing it.
Built to Spill have a couple of great albums, but their magic has never translated well for us live. The set started off tight and together, but by the end they began to drag out the songs, as they often do, into these meandering, mind-numbing jams. After a while we found ourselves sitting back in the bleachers patiently waiting for Gang of Four to come on.
Once they did, we were completely blown away with the level of energy and intensity they still had nearly 30 years after their first album came out. It%u2019s refreshing for a band to get back together after all those years and still be able to put on the type of show that made them one of the most influential yet underappreciated bands of the last half-century. Following them to headline was The Pixies, who played a rather standard, sedated set. It was a very similar to the other times we've seen them since they got back together last year. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole day was that Frank Black has hair.