Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Stage Concert Review

They say the best things in life are free, and in expensive New York City that comes as a welcomed bonus. There are plenty of free events offered in NYC throughout the summer, one of the best being the city’s musical Summer Stage Series which has shows set up in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan from June through August.

Braving the searing heat, I ventured forth to the Central Park's Summer Stage last Sunday to catch Brit act Friendly Fires, along with supports The Naked & Famous (NZ) and local Manhattanites The Cults. It was one of the most humid days of the summer which made standing in the heat for 4 hours quite a test of endurance, but all 3 acts kept me on my feet and dancing; it was truly a testament to their talent!
The Cults are very new to the scene, only having formed in 2010 when Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin met as students at NYU. As a result they have a fresh unique sound made even more unique by their ever present use of the glocken spiel. Their songs are light and joyful with harmonious vocals and simple lyrics which make them very easy on the ear. Having just released their new album in June on a label run by the UK's Lily Allen, they are definitely an act to keep an eye on.
The Naked and Famous hail all the way from Auckland, New Zealand and have a distinct indie-electro feel with prominent 80's overtones. They also feature some amazingly dark, almost punk baselines which give them a definite creative edge. Front woman Alisa Xayalith's stage presence is almost hypnotizing, and it's this coupled with the upbeat drone-like electronic sounds provided by the band that makes for a great party. Their signature single “Young Blood,” from their most recent album “Passive Me, Aggressive You” was a clear hit with the crowd. Expect big things from these young Kiwis.
I have always been a Friendly Fires fan from the beginning. Their first offering, a self-titled album released in 2008, was a great mix of funk and dance tracks that won international acclaim. It was off the back of this album that I went to see them in various venues across various continents with much the same result. The band just couldn't seem to deliver live what they had so brilliantly produced in the studio. Their next effort 'Pala' was released in 2011 and certainly showed their talent and diversity when it comes to differing sounds and genres. The album has a real 80's feel to it with heavy use of synthesizers and soft flowing vocals. Throw in some latin and disco beats, a hint of R'n'B and add an edge of funk and you have an album that's definitely hard to listen to sitting down. It gives me great pleasure to report that the band delivered a show worthy of their musical prowess in Central Park. The were lively, they were fun, they played a great selection of tracks from both old and new albums including 'Skeleton Boy', 'On Board', 'Jump In the Pool' and their latest single 'Hawaain Air', all with an electric energy despite the crippling humidity of the day. Front man Ed Macfarlane's dance moves are intoxicating and kept the Summer Stage crowd up on their feet for the whole set and even prompted an encore.

It was a great show on a great day in one of the most picturesque settings in New York. Summer Stage runs through August and up-coming shows can be found at

By Meredith

Photos courtesy of google images 


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