2005_09_arts_devendra.jpgSo, while part of Gothamist opted to take in an intimate show by the Dandies at CBGB's, the rest of us spent most of our night at Bowery for the Worlds Fair showcase. But that doesn't mean we didn't get around.

To start off the night, we went down to the Cake Shop to check out Hopewell, who we were completely unfamiliar with until we heard them play a KEXP in-studio on the radio Monday afternoon. They were very good. The songs got louder and tighter as the set went on, ending with the theatrical 'Synthetic Symphony'.

From there we went over to Arlene's Grocery for Tim Fite and a stripped down Youth Group. Fite is quite a character, dressed in a Seersucker suit with suspenders and playing an very bizarre mix of folk and hip hop that was extremely interesting, albiet somewhat irritating. Following him was Youth Group, who played a brief set of quiet make out anthems that the world will get to know much better once they begin their tour with Death Cab in a few weeks.

Shortly after, we headed to Bowery and settled in for a long night of a diverse group of excellent bands. King of France was solid, playing a set of warbley folk-rock. Pela was the big surprise of the night, with a strong set of loud and tight Stellastarr*esque tunes. The Cribs followed with a fun, if not totally original set of sloppy drunk brit-rock, followed by The Holy Fuck with Beans, who is one of the most talented MC's we've ever seen perform live. He speeds up and slows down his voice like it was spinning on a turntable, while the band played unique and uptempo synth tracks to complement the performance.

We decided to stick around for Devendra Banhart, and are glad we did. He has greatly matured since the last time we saw him. He now commands the stage with a level of confidence we never thought was in him. The songs were absolutely intoxicating and it was a clear sign that Devendra has taken the leap from glorified street performer to full blown folk icon.

Finally, we ended the night by walking over to the Mercury Lounge to catch a perfect set by John Vanderslice. He seemed very excited and proud to be playing the material off his most recent album, letting a giant smile of relief after each song in reaction to the crowd's thunderous applause. He finished his set (and our night) being joined by Viva Voce on stage for a beautiful rendition of our favorite new Vanderslice song, Exodus Damage. (right-click/save)

That's it for day 1. We'll be back tomorrow.

Photo by Brooklyn Vegan