The Village Voice's Siren Musical Festival opened yesterday to cloudless skies and sweltering heat in Coney Island. Despite the twin temptations of air-conditioning and, for the relatively jetset, the Pitchfork festival in Chicago, the free-music faithful returned in droves. This happened gradually, however, and many attendees missed an opportunity to learn a little bit more about enigmatic Worcester, MA act DOM—whose sound may have translated poorly over the booming sound system. However, many were left more mystified than ever.
Wye Oak, hailing from the art-rock loonyland of Baltimore (the unsuspecting city that brought you Dan Deacon, Ponytail, and the boys of Animal Collective) were surprisingly normal, but far from tame. Soaring anthems like "My Neighbor" probably would have prompted some air-guitaring, if only there had been any room for anyone on either side.
Ponytail, a true treat to see live, provided a counterpoint to Wye Oak's traditionalism. Singer Molly Siegel took the stage wearing jockey shorts with a noticeably padded or stuffed crotch. Her live shtick easily matched the insanity of her vocal one; she rolled her eyes back in her head as she trilled and cooed, and, perhaps provoked by a Mr. Damian/Pink Eyes lookalike in the audience shouting death threats at her, scrambled off the stage at one point and tried to touch as many hands in the audience as possible. Meanwhile, the band played on, guitarist Dustin Wong sounding as if he could play his staccato notes forever.
And there was the question of the heat. Even as the hottest part of the day passed, it only seemed to become more of an issue for the constantly-moving performers. How they dealt with it varied widely, but if Siren 2010 had a synecdoche, it would probably be a shirt with huge sweat stains on the front. Playing at three in the afternoon, Surfer Blood balked, but this may have been in empathy with the crowd, as the band members were from West Palm Beach, Florida and not showing a drop of sweat. Later in the afternoon, Kip Berman of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Joe Ferocious of Cymbals Eat Guitars struggled valiantly with their instruments and remained their usual animated selves despite their adherence to the synecdoche.
It finally cooled down by the night-time, and Matt and Kim were hyperactive, helpfully distinguishing for the audience between their fast and their super-fast songs, leading "Just a Friend" singalongs, and trying to walk across spectators' hands. They closed the night out with a much needed run into the ocean, and the sweaty masses followed them.