The pair of CF25 festival-styled shows that took place on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon of last week at Union Pool brought on feelings of melancholy, nostalgia, and wistful longing for the 90’s and early 00’s music scenes that once were. Chickfactor is a cherished music fanzine made by and for indie-pop obsessives created by the multi-talented artist Gail O’Hara back in 1992 and ran in print through 2002. The now web-based music mag for audiophiles is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and thusly, they are throwing classic post-punk throw down in NYC, London, and Portland. The Brooklyn show kicked off the three jubilees and featured bunches of indie music celebrities and indie-pop fanatics galore.
Thursday night’s show started off a real throwback to the early 2000’s indie scene with the Providence band Honeybunch. These guys and gal may easily summon up past sensations of hanging out at Brownies or Fez in 2001 while sippin’ on Midori sours and being exposed to great bands like this delightful cuddlecore treat that wafts with scents of sweet riffs, mellowing harmonies, and breezy jams. They were big on the scene from 1987 through the mid 90’s, while singer and guitarist Jeffrey Underhill had gone over to the power-pop outfit Velvet Crush. They came back several years back and have been smoothing out the edges of our frayed lives ever since. After that, the legendary folk singer Bridget St. John turned out an acoustic set of profoundly lyrical and sweeping melodies. She has been known for her very unique and influential song-writing style since the late 60’s, but her cover of a Joni Mitchell classic and her perversion version of “America the Beautiful” just brought the house down.
Then there were a couple of long-awaited band reunions that many have specifically crowded into Union Pool to see. The Pacific Ocean was a band that formed out of the ashes of a favorite rock outfit of mine by the name of Versus. They got big in the late 90’s, but have not played or recorded together since 2003. So, this was definitely a huge treat for indie rock fans, and they did not miss a smoothly rocking beat. Frontwoman Connie Lovatt, formerly of the band Containe, had an angelic harmony with Verses guitarist Ed Baluyut, and it was a treat to see them float away on those gently swelling and surging jams. Closing the night was Kicking Giant, an art-rock duo that was only around for a few precious years in the early 90’s, but despite having formed in NYC, with drummer and multi-disciplinary artist Rachel Carns and guitarist Tae Won Yu having both met while going to Cooper Union, they haven’t played NYC in ages and have really only rarely appeared together since those fertile and artsy salad days. Carns is still a very dynamic performer, having pioneering the whole stand-up drumming style, and she really wraps herself up in the songs physically and spiritually, as she sometimes even falls to the floor in fits of passion. They are really something to see if you ever get another chance.
Saturday’s show was a daytime affair that brought on many of the now middle-aged indie rock scene back out, some even bringing their families and kids. Singer-songwriter Franklin Bruno of the Nothing Painted Blue subbed in for Joe Pernice, who sadly had to cancel, but played a delightful set nonetheless. Then, there was a new group that breathed a little badly-needed fresh and non-nostalgic talent to the proceeds, in the form the DC surf-pop trio Governess. This is a band that combines a mature confidence with a restless vitality that really excites. I was so impressed I picked up their self-titled debut vinyl, but they are ready to record their next, so I am anxious to see and hear more from these three rock n’ roll sister sirens. Then there was an extremely quirky duo known as Cotton Candy, whom are Teenbeat Records’ and Unrest’s Mark Robinson and his wife, Blast Off Country Style’s Evelyn Hurley, who sing classic advertisement jingles while in a classic 30’s jazz-set character. As bizarre as it sounds, it is actually immensely entertaining and down-right hilarious.
As the finale, we all got to experience the legendary voice of Laura Cantrell. She is a country singer who had spent a while in NYC during her formative college days, and even had a long-time popular show on WFMU (the independent alternative radio station in New Jersey that has long championed the indiepop scene and had a big presence at the festival all weekend, including the festival’s day-too emcee, Gaylord Fields). To say that Laura Cantrell is captivating is an understatement, as her voice booms with such passion, sorrow, and power that she has you hanging on every note as she whisks you away on a warm breeze of classic country beauty and grace. It was a very bittersweet show to see all the faces, and relive all the art from that scene that brought so much melancholy joy to us music fans not all that long ago, but I now can wait for the next round of anniversary shows.
Article: Dean Keim