Siren Festival : New York Coney Island

Jon Spencer, Guided By Voices, Quasi, Peaches and more rock the first Village Voice Siren Festival...

You expect to smell strange things when you get off the New York subway, just not salt water. But there it is. And it’s a breath of, well, maybe not [I]fresh[/I] air, but it has a definite air about it.

It’s the smell of Coney Island, about as far from NYC proper as you can get. But it’s not just the smells in the air that are unusual. It’s the sounds. Alongside the screams of hipsters riding the Cyclone rollercoaster are the sounds of indie rock bands playing the inaugural, annual (they hope) Village Voice Siren Music Festival.

Down 10th St., wedged in the shadow of the Cyclone and Astroland, with it’s back to the Boardwalk and beach, stands Siren’s small stage with its circus freak backdrop. A couple blocks over is the actual sideshow, where sometimes X-rated Bindlestiff Cirkus and The Black Heart Procession perform, and Puzzles bar hosts a second staff featuring acts like The Incredible Moses Leroy. But it’s the small 10th St. stage that attracts a couple thousand.

It’s a hot day, and maybe the crowd thinks they’ve gotten maybe a little too much sun and are hallucinating when Peaches goes on to mixed reactions. People just don’t know how to handle a trashy lingerie-wearing girl who comes on stage with nothing but a minidisk and a microphone. Is Peaches the kind of bitch you want to get with? Not the way she thrusts her makeshift mic cock and masturbates the stand, but enough people dig songs like ‘Lovertits’ and ‘Fuck The Pain Away’.

After Rainer Maria play they announce the next act, Quasi, as “Jerry Lee Lewis with feedback.” And the ex-husband and wife duo of fuzzy one-of-a-kind “rocksichord” keyboardist Sam Coomes and drummer Janet Weiss pound out some of their wickedest sweet-yet-soured relationship songs off their last two albums – including highlight ‘Our Happiness Is Guaranteed’ – as well as tracks like ‘A Case Of No Way Out’ off their upcoming, highly harmony-driven ‘The Sword of God’.

After Man Or Astro-Man?, Superchunk preview songs from their upcoming album ‘Here’s To Shutting Up’ before a high energy set of classics like ‘Hyper Enough’, ‘Mower’ and ‘Slack Motherfucker’. Then Guided By Voices‘ Bob Pollard with his ubiquitous cigarette and band – including a temporary drummer because of GBV‘s regular guy having a broken hand – take the stage. GBV rock out with their cock rock out as always, playing a tight set for the “indie-rock Woodstock”, throwing in lots of tracks like ‘Driving Heather Crazy’ and ‘Glad Girls’ from their new one, ‘Isolation Drills’.

Then, as the blue sky turns red, the always dapper, demented Jon Spencer Blues Explosion sets the stage on fire. JSBX have recorded a new album, but it’s near impossible to tell one tune from another, except to say it’s one of the ones where Spencer yells [I]”blooooooos”[/I] or one of the ones where he yells [I]”explosion”[/I]. Or one of the ones where he yells both over slide work as slippery as a greasy spoon in a Southern diner. But tonight the blooooooos is number one for the remaining people who heeded the Siren’s call.

Tony Ware