Skewering Musicians With A Gigantic 3-Pronged Weapon And A Thesaurus
Pitchfork—the website whose album reviews have a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score on par with your student loan agreement—stopped by for WBAR-B-Q last Friday. They posted some snazzy pictures here and here. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to like these pictures before they were cool. 19 people already like the album on facebook.
Ah, spring. The chirping of the birds, the smell of the flowers…they’re all fine and dandy. But for fans of alternative music in the Columbia community, spring brings another joy—the WBAR-B-Q. The annual festival has brought the likes of Vampire Weekend, Gang Gang Dance, Japanther and countless more to Lehman Lawn – often way before they break through to the mainstream.
This year saw an expansion of the program, with the introduction of an after-hours, dancier set in the Diana Event Oval and a whopping 10-band lineup including critical darlings Real Estate and psychedelic baroque pop up-and-comer Julianna Barwick. After last year’s unfortunate rained-out affair—which had to be moved to the less-than-awesome Lefrak Gym – it was nice to be back out on Lehman Lawn in the sunshine—even if the weather was a little on the chilly side.
The afternoon portion of the program hit the ground running with a great mix of psych-pop and surf-rock acts. Columbia grad-student collective Beige and hot local band Big Troubles repped the lo-fi camp terrifically with plenty of drum loops, reverberated vocals and bare-bones instrumentals a la Pavement. Grooms, too, was a real treat, though unfortunate mic issues prevented vocalist Emily Ambruso’s voice from coming through—a damn shame, because her vocals are a key part of the Brooklyn trio’s jangly, Silversun Pickups-meets-Sonic Youth sound.
The afternoon’s best moments came later, augmented by the delicious, but not excessively plentiful barbecue (which was snapped up in roughly 5 minutes.) Julianna Barwick dazzled the crowd with her mesmerizing dream pop—a spectacle made all the more fascinating by the nature of Barwick’s act: a one-woman show comprising of layer upon layer of vocals and effects amidst a sea of hazy keys. Think Andrew Bird, but totally unique and arguably better. And of course, Real Estate were spot-on, closing the barbecue with their laid-back, washed-out psychedelia.
A short while later, the crowd relocated to the Event Oval for some great electronica acts. No dubstep here; instead ARP and Blondes treated music fans to bubbly, vibrant trance with unfurling samples and persistent bass. The grooves were so alluring that by the time the Crystal Ark took the stage for their epic set, the dance floor was packed, at least by Event Oval standards.
One of the best things about WBAR-B-Q, as cliched as it sounds, is how its music brings people together. In the middle of The Crystal Ark’s disco-fest, the electricity completely cut out, halting both the music and trippy visuals. Rather than give up and leave, the crowd rallied behind the leadership of campy house prophet Gavin Russom in some serious accoustic grooving. The hand-claps and foot-stomps brought everyone in the room together, in a pretty amazing display of funky solidarity.
But of course, the show had to end, and at 11 pm sharp, Barnard security had to kick the music-lovers out. But the music never dies, and the fans dispersed to start their own shindigs—or at the very least, download the discographies of this WBAR-B-Q’s stellar lineup.
Neptune via Wikimedia Commons
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