This is the time, this is the place, LarkFEST 2010, “New York’s Largest One Day Street Festival” is on. Two stages of live music and entertainments including visual arts, music, poetry, magic acts, dancing and food. 80,000 people were expected to attend this year; while I can’t confirm this number, Lark Street felt as packed as ever (update: it was 70,000). Center Square neighbors, including myself, know the drill. Either leave Albany for the day, or embrace the crowd, the music, the vendors… and have fun. I grabbed my camera and spend the better part of this beautiful day on my favorite street.
More photos below, or check the whole series as a full-screen Flickr slideshow.
Was LarkFEST 2009 as out of control as the rumor would like us to believe? As opposed to last year, when the lineup featured big names like Moby, Matt & Kim and Company of Thieves, this year’s edition presented smaller indie, rock and soul performers and a handful of local bands. Per usual, a few people complained about this choice, commenting left and right on the merits of our local scene (or lack thereof). This is a *free* event, hello?! As B put it: “You should ask for your money back”. Truth is, not a single band sucked. This wasn’t my usual type of music, yet there wasn’t a single performer that send me running for the hills.
12:00PM: The Charlie Watts Riots
1:00PM: Harper Blynn
2:30PM: Eli “Paperboy” Reed
Neo-soul from the Boston area. This guy was a crowd pleaser. What a voice, what an energy, people loved him and I’m pretty sure he convinced me to have his babies.
4:30PM: Backyard Tire Fire
Quoting AOA quoting Paste: “Brandishing a raucous live show and inventive studio albums, these Midwesterners sound like a drunkenly angry Tom Petty crawling out of a Florida swamp”. I didn’t know this band, but the crowd (above) was once again on fire for this last show on the Madison stage. Actually this dude’s hair had just exploded.
10:10AM: The Ill Funk Ensemble
11:10AM: Rich Ortiz
No need presenting Sirsy. As a drummer (a sucky one), I have a special place in my heart for Melanie Krahmer (above) singing and playing drums *standing*. Melanie, you rock.
1:10PM: Kaiser Cartel
2:45PM: Jim Keller
Jim Keller’s performance was a special one. Sure, they played 867-5309/Jenny and a lot of good folk songs, but the show was not as much *on* the stage as it was *in front* of it. It didn’t take too long for a few colorful locals to create an interesting buffer zone (see thumbnails above). The dance moves were nothing short of exuberant at times. Or creatively disjointed. I don’t know.
4:15PM: Chris Barron
Last band on Madison Stage, Chris Barron & the Time Bandits put on a good show. Good enough for that cute couple above to make out for a long long time.
Speaking of the future generation (I’m looking at you, K.), a lot had been said about the lineup this year but I saw *a lot* of kids thoroughly enjoying classic rock and neo-soul that day. Just good, plain old, most-likely-inebriated fun. I didn’t see anything bad going on, I don’t think anybody got trampled, and to be honest I had to wait until 11:30pm to see my first cat-fight at Soho’s. Kudos, youngsters, here are a few photos below dedicated to you.
New this year, a Silent Disco, from 12pm to 5pm on Hudson Ave, featuring two DJs competing for listeners wearing headphones. You read that right. Each patron was given a wireless headset. Two DJs were broadcasting their music over the airwaves and the party goers were able to choose which one they wanted to listen to. Without the headset the music could not be heard, giving the effect of a street full of people dancing to nothing. The first silent disco “appeared in 1969 in a Finnish science fiction film [...] The concept was then used by eco-activists in the early 90’s who utilized headphones at outdoor parties to minimize noise pollution and disturbance to the local wildlife” (source: Wikipedia).
This event rubbed me the wrong way. This is LarkFEST. Stop the gimmick, play the goddamn music, will you? I felt thrown back 20 years when listening to Electronica would automatically label you as a weirdo. The whole event was, the irony, fenced. A bit like a zoo. Unsurprisingly, a small crowd quickly gathered around to point at people standing there with headphones. It took me a few tries during the day to finally catch a few dancers (above). You know what, Albany? Electronic music isn’t really that special anymore, it is what it is, nothing more, nothing less; it shouldn’t be quiet for its big appearance at LarkFEST. What’s with the abdication? You love it, I *love* it, just ditch the act please and let’s bring a solid, no-nonsense place where we can enjoy this music and share the experience without looking like dis-functioning members of society all over again. *shakes cane in the air*. End of rant.
Multiple DJs rotated throughout the day: The Dark Flow (SINsation Sound, Gravity Entertainment), Eric Stewart (Gravity Entertainment), Jay Balance (Good Life / Everyday People), Lazer & Blazer (Select Rhythms), RekOne (Vicious Cycle), DJ Scooter (WRPI 91.5FM, The Sounds Of Now), Milkdud (Intellectual Property, DNBC).
That’s all, folks
That’s about it for the day. We really got lucky with the weather, once again. I didn’t even touch that sky below. Extra point for photo-bombing my shot, sir. Oh, I saw you, I was just curious about your plan. Plenty of time to take photos, plenty of time to enjoy the bands, and the whole day to hang out with friends.
Here are a few photos from Bennett, the rest can be found in his photoset.