Where: New York City
Venue: Pier 17
Erected in the 1980's on New York City's East side is the delightful and somewhat touristy Pier 17. It's location on 'South Street Seaport' makes it one of the best venues, of all time. Behind the performers, the audience can see tall, historic ships. They can gaze behind at New York's financial district, or stare at the Brooklyn Bridge. Whatever your fancy, the graphical location is spot on for live outdoor music.
The hosts on this bright and sunny evening were Veronica Falls of London, UK. Some individuals have expressed disappointment with this years Seaport Music Festival, because the listing is inferior to previous years. You don't have to dig deep to find previous performers, including Animal Collective, Best Coast, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dirty Projectors, Flying Lotus, Deerhunter and Suicide. This festival is known for picking artists who have received severe amounts of hype and/or acclaim from independent sources such as cough* Pitchfork cough*. You need to remember that this is a free festival, in New York City of all places. This years line-up is certainly one of the worst, due to the obscurity and mediocrity of these artists. Looking down the list, you'll find that Veronica Falls are actually the festivals coup de grace, and also the least interesting of acts.
This is a band that can barely boast about their Wikipedia article. Received a below average review by the 8/10 giving publication, NME. And have as much energy as a dead Sloth. Seeing Veronica Falls live is like forcing depression on yourself. It's like all the happiness and freedom of sunshine has been drowned out by four very secluded individuals who call themselves musicians. I have no problem with indie pop, I think it's a magnificent genre. It does have it's flaws though, and Veronica Falls fail to achieve the energy, passion and sophistication of Belle & Sebastian, The Vaselines, you name it. Some of the tracks they performed were very entertaining, using the small sound system to their advantage. It was the dabs of sadness and pretentious comments by the band, that caught the view of me and my girlfriend. We began smiling at lead guitarist James Hoare; All we wanted was for them to enjoy playing for the subway travelling audience, but instead James Hoare felt the need to give off no facial expressions what so ever, and above all, complain about the heat...
Don't get me wrong they can pull off a decent chorus, but so can I and thousands of other bands waiting to be noticed. 'Beachy Head' is excessively simplistic. The harmonies are present but add little effect over the clearly straightforward structure. The lyrics are again basic with minimal interesting aspects. If you thought the studio version was pretentious and dull, then I'd advise you to stay away from the poor live performance. 'Found Love In A Graveyard' was just as ill-poetic and basic as a local high school band. I'm sure a high school band wouldn't be dressed in severe cynicism and not give an actual fuck about their new found fame. Veronica Falls have said in interviews that they "don't take themselves seriously." Well I don't take them seriously either, they're weak, awful lyricists and do not deserve to be higher up on a bill than 'The Peoples Temple', a band that actually recognises their surroundings, skill and fans.
'Bad Feeling' salvaged the show. The fast guitar work was an improvement over the sloppy harmonics and care free individual playing. People are comparing Veronica Falls to the C86 indie pop revolution, when in fact they should be compared to every indie rock band out there. For a free show, yeah.. It's alright, but I wouldn't pay for a deeper listen. I get that most of their songs are 'dark', but the music is mostly upbeat. It doesn't take many facial expressions to enjoy what you're doing. Every band I've ever seen has shown some sort of emotion, or unison to the fans and band members alike. Even the saddest of sadcore show signs of emotion.
The Vaselines are a band who excelled in indie pop. They released a string of EP's, one studio album and a followup album 21 years later. They have Scottish blood, and their music is buried in history as one of the grand indie pop artists, and by far the most soul changing of Scottish artists. Veronica Falls have a bit of Scotland in them too. They just sound bland at this point in time. It seems to me that these four individuals are more focused on how they dress, than how they sound. And that's the difference between good or bad, interesting or boring and bright or dull. Nonetheless, free shows are free shows, Veronica Falls just didn't impress me. However the surrounding tall ships, sunshine, financial district and the air conditioned mall inside pier 17, did.