Friday, May 4, 2012

Photos/Review: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival @ BAM (Twin Shadow, Sharon Van Etten, The Walkmen)


Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (Day One) @ Brooklyn Academy of Music
Photos: Mariel Marrelli / Review: Debbie Chou

2011 was musically a very good year for me. My friend Jay Sharp introduced me to Twin Shadow and I immediately became obsessed, being the 1980’s music lover that I am. However, I missed every opportunity to see them perform in NYC. I met the critically acclaimed Sharon Van Etten at SXSW after her final song “Love More” made me cry. She consoled me with a sincere, gracious hug. Magic Sundae Radio started off the year with The Walkmen's “In The New Year” on their podcast, giving me hope and joy for the year ahead. Although The Walkmen have been around for several years, I finally got around to listening to all of their albums.

Imagine my excitement when Aaron and Bryce Dessner announced Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, a three-day festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music featuring Twin Shadow, Sharon Van Etten, and The Walkmen on the first night. To make the event more special, I decided it would be a great birthday gift for our Mariel Marrelli.

We missed the opening act Jherek Bischoff and surprise guest David Byrne (we had no choice but to get over that right away) but found ourselves with a nice view in the second row. George Lewis Jr (a.k.a. Twin Shadow) walked onstage with a shiny blazer and skin-tight white jeans, reminiscent of Prince. Playing new songs from their upcoming album and familiar tunes from Forget, George exudes a different persona when performing live. When he sings “please leave us along when we’re dancing” it is no longer a nonchalant request, but rather a strong outcry of frustration. His first verse to “Slow” was like a quiet recitative to an aria, free flowing and narrative. Special guests included Brooklyn Steppers, a group of talented young men and women from the local drumline.

In contrast to last year’s trio, a full backing band with steady harmonies and a guest appearance by her producer Aaron Dessner now accompanies Sharon Van Etten. With this full band and the new songs from her recent album Tramp she is fiercer onstage without losing the ethereal quality of her voice. Yet she was not afraid to tell off the hecklers in the audience. The one song she performed on solo acoustic guitar, “I Fold,” is about moving back home with her parents and learning to accept it. The tears nearly came again during the last song “Serpents” except I wasn’t feeling sadness. I felt the triumph from the energy of this song, and rejoiced how we have all come so far within one year.

Mariel and I got up to the orchestra pit for The Walkmen, the only standing area in the Gilman Opera House. The handsome band members approached the stage in dress shirts and suit jackets—a classy outfit for a classy band. Hamilton Leithauser’s voice soars over the ringing guitars, making every phrase a proud, important statement. Hearing him hold out high notes made us wish we could also have a glass of whiskey in our hands while we sing along like drunken hooligans. Fans of The Walkmen will be pleased with the new album Heaven, due at the end of the May.

From new wave to folk rock to indie rock, three different bands made one powerful line-up. If there was one thing that each act had in common, it was the soulfulness in the singers’ voices that enticed us last night.


Crossing Brooklyn Ferry continues tonight with Buke & Gase, The Antlers, St. Vincent and many more. The festival will end tomorrow with a Pat Mahoney & Nancy Whang (both of LCD Soundsystem) DJ Set, Atlas Sound and Beirut.

Check out some photos of the bands who played day one below...

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