Live - 2003 Siren Festival Blows Non-Existent Roof Off Coney Island

The 2003 Siren Music Festival went off without a hitch at world famous Coney Island in Brooklyn New York on Saturday July 20, a day that was filled with sun tan lotion, revolving stages of rock, and the crËme de la crËme of indie rockís finest. The Village Voice made their third attempt at this free, all day festival that truly was one of the best events that I have been to in some time. The line up was perfect, the staff were lacking the ugly chips on their shoulders that appear during most of these stressful summer events, and the sound was immaculate...the SIREN Festival was off the shizzle. I canít believe I just said that.

(Coney Island Boardwalk)

After getting trapped on the W train (donít ask about the friggin train situation in NYC...itís all retarded) we finally made it to the fest in time to see Touch And Goís !!! (pronounced Chik Chk Chik). They definitely light up the place with an electric performance, which involved players switching instruments, in sort of an improvisational set. When not trying to get the crowd to dance, the energetic band (about 9 cats or so, who were they Ozomatli?) pulled out the big guns...seriously they had big Super Soaker water guns and began to spray the crowd with much needed water. Hopefully you have heard or read about their buzz single ìMe and Guiliani Down By The School Yard,î and you should keep these charismatic upstarts.


Hot Hot Heat were one of the dayís best gifts, as they brought their wild pop rock from the clean streets of Victoria, British Columbia, to the scorching boardwalk of the jam-packed Coney (thatís what the locals call it, the Coney. Iím hip). The band, who have skyrocketed thanks to the single and video for ìBandagesî ripped through their Make Up The Breakdown LP, which Sub Pop released almost one year ago. ìAveda,î ìNaked In The City Again,î ìOh, Goddamnit,î and the closer ìThis Townî doused the crowd with an inviting tenacity and charm that made them one of the dayís best performers. I hadnít listened to their CD in a while, but they brought the music that was captured on the disc to life so well, that it felt like I was in my car...melting my eardrums to the core at 100 degree heat with 7,000 of my friends in the back seat.

(Hot Hot Heat)

I couldnít really see every band that I wanted to. Mostly because I was too brain damaged to find both stages...seriously. I got lost in the depths of Coney Island, and the next thing I knew I was giving Brooklyn carnies money to squirt water into a clownís mouth only to win a stuffed animal that I didnít want. Radio 4 and Ted Leo both banged out killer sets, this coming from the legions of fans who stood in the front row for both sets, and the hints of audio that I heard while making out with the famous bearded lady.

(Joanna Buese of Los Shut Up with Jason Anfinsen)

The Datsuns, New Zealandís bastard child of AC/DC and Black Sabbath, killed the crowd with doses of their blistering self-titled album. ìHarmonic Generator, ìMotherfucker From Hell,î ìIn Love,î sounded amazing on the outdoor stage, injecting their brand on down under speed metal into the veins of the sweaty masses. This band has grown since I last saw them in Chicago at the Metro (a 3,000 seat venue that was barely half full on the night in question) and having such an immense gathering to watch these Kiwis must have given them the adrenaline they needed to bang out a fucking amazing set...which they indeed did.

(The Datsuns)

The real story of the evening was Modest Mouse, who like OJ Simpson before them, killed. By the way, in my opinion, OJ jokes are never dated, never. MM came out at around 7:30 p.m., just as the sun began to set. As comedian David Cross stood in front of me, the Washington-based group blazed through their hour-long set, feeding us appetizers from their forthcoming new album on Epic (October) and dusting off old favorites from over the years (ìWild Packs of Family Dogsî, ì3rd Planetî). As the brilliant set came to a close, singer Isaac Brock recited some gut wrenching poetry as the rest of the band slowly faded out of existence, making for a truly jaw-dropping sight. His voice, his anger, his heartache, and his eerie nasal voice were so hypnotic and scary that I called my mother after the set just to tell her I love her voice mail and hung up.

(Modest Mouse)

Some of the fine people whom I encountered were Jason Gnewikow (formerly of The Promise Ring), Brian Beck (Astralwerks), Isaac Green (Startime International - who punched me in the shoulder as if we were football playing steroid munchers...remind me to punch you when I see you again sucka), Walter (Rival Schools), Chris Applegren (The Pattern and Lookout! Records honcho), and David Cross (Mr. Show and Shut Up You Fucking Baby).

(David Cross being stalked by contributing writer Bob Ladewig)

Thanks again to ALL of the Village Voice people who made this a truly amazing event. Diane Perini you rule, without you, no one of this would have been made possible, so I thank you...a lot. See you next year.

(Jason Anfinsen)

Source: Jason Anfinsen

Live - 2003 Siren Festival Blows Non-Existent Roof Off Coney Island