For its fourth and final day, Popfest threw an all day party at Brooklyn venue Littlefield.
Like many places these days, it's a multi-hypenate: art gallery-patio-bar-concert venue.
Unlike many similar venues, however, it's actually clean and enjoyable to spend time in,
making it the perfect spot for this closing day party.
Or so I would assume. Checking MySpace the night before, I decided to come only to the evening
shows, arriving around 8. What I didn't count on was that everyone else would show up at 2, and
be running out of steam just as I got there. The friends who didn't pass me going the other way
at the door spent most of the rest of the night collapsed in sweaty heaps against far walls.
Everyone was thoroughly popped-out.
Too bad for them. They missed out on one of the best shows I've seen all year, courtesy of Sweden's
The Embassy. A pair of Teutonic boys, six feet tall and white as a prep school yearbook, swigging
beer between sets, they were a revelation in acid-washed denim.
Combining very Euro-dance beats with beachy guitars and the occasional steel drum sample,
The Embassy makes incredibly fun music. There's a strong kinship between J-Pop and Swedish music,
and Embassy's gentle sway is strongly Pacific-rim. There's a certain dirty edge to the band that
you won't find in its Asian counterparts, though, and it wasn't hard to image these kids leading
all night parties in Gothenburg.
I hate to say things sound like “this meets that,” but you wouldn't be far off imagining Passion Pit
backing Vampire Weekend. It was so fun that the band reached down into the emergency reserves of a
bunch of pop kids who'd already been on their feet for eight hours, and had at least one girl screaming
“Keep playing! Play all night! I'll sleep over!” Considering how cute they are, her boyfriend got a
little worried and asked “Um, sleep over where?” If The Embassy gets as popular as it should, he's
only the first of hundreds of concerned boyfriends.
Of course, not everything was roses and European good times. New York's The Secret History also
played a set mostly notable for its forced artifice and how many people it convinced to give up on
the Popfest and go home already (the crowd shrank by at least half by midway through the set).
Less indie pop and more '90s alterna-radio with some synth runs and high girl-harmonies, the band
made The Embassy all the more special.
For all of its reverence to tradition, Popfest is best when showcasing new, exciting bands. This
year's standouts were undoubtedly The Embassy, Dream Diary and My Teenage Stride. Given the legacy
of some previous years' best, like 2008 standout The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, things could get
very interesting very fast for these acts. Get ready.
- ~ Chris Chafin / New York Press / 24 May 2010