Siren Festival is the kind of event that you sometimes have to force yourself to roll out of bed for. The weather is hot, the distance is far, and Coney Island is, well, Coney Island. But if you do happen to get down there, it's always a real fun time filled with loud music, beer, skeeball, and the best fried dough in New York. (It pails in comparison to the fried dough (funnel cake) that we used to get at Six Flags Great America in Wisconsin, but hey, this stuff will do.)
Because it is merely impossible to get down to Coney Island early enough for the starting time, I must admit I missed the first few acts of the day. I was especially bummed I missed Elvis Perkins as I was really impressed with his show I saw at Joe's Pub a few months back. The D train I was on decided to crap out for about 30 minutes on the way to the festival, so the first band that I was able to see in full was The Black Lips. They were the band I went down there for in the first place, so if I hadn't seen them, I would have drowned myself in fried food early in the day. No need.
I've raved about The Black Lips before on Tripwire, and I won't slow down here. That band brought everything they had on Saturday including a chicken that they purchased in Bushwick the previous day. The Black Lips are controlled chaos at its best and I'll be damned if anyone can listen to "Boomerang" or "Katrina" without looking down to see their knees shaking in A) terror or B) pure ecstasy. And how do you know when a band is great? Answer: When they scare the shit out of their audience. The girl standing behind me ran in terror when they unleashed the chicken and fake feathers. Bravo.
I've never really been a huge Voxtrot fan, but I went to the Stillwell stage to catch a glimpse of the band's set. Even though I'm not totally into them, I understand why people really dig on this band. They're catchy as hell, upbeat, and are insanely nice and likable guys onstage. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the beer, and maybe it was seeing them right after The Black Lips, but after a few minutes I decided to go back to the main stage to catch We Are Scientists, a band that I'm not sure I understand why I really like, but hey, the world works in mysterious ways. I dig me some We Are Scientists. They blasted through some great new songs and some old favorites from their debut, Love And Squalor, and for the time being, kept everyone dancing and in high spirits. I had no idea before yesterday how many female fans LOVE the line my body is your body from "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt."
The act after WAS was M.I.A., an artist that attracted a lot of buzz throughout the day. M.I.A. came out with a black and gold sequin outfit that must have been the most uncomfortable looking thread of clothing I have ever seen. But hey, what the shit do I care? It's hard for me to tell the difference between most of her songs but no one seemed to really care. She's a great entertainer and got the crowd going in the midst of some serious summer heat. Prancing around the stage, she sang some new tunes (I think?) and some old ones (yes, I did notice the Pull Up The People, Pull Up The Poor lyric) all with the "get your hands up" ethos that M.I.A. has made herself popular with.
I'll be the first to admit I didn't see The New York Dolls. I couldn't. I needed some food, I needed some beach as the sun was starting to go down, and don't shoot me, but I'm not a New York Dolls fan. I never have been. I needed a break. Sorry.
Siren wasn't nearly as strong as it has been in the past few years, but hell...Siren might seem like it's all about the music, but it's not. Siren is about a day at Coney Island that happens to have some live music as well. Coney Island is the star of the day, not The New York Dolls, The Black Lips, or any other band. You can never really go wrong by spending a day on the beach. So for all the Siren haters out there, how was your Saturday?
Photos by: Jonathan Lyman, Heart on a Stick and Oliver J. Lopena