I probably looked like an idiot today. Not only was I wearing a t-shirt with French words on it (in honor of Bastille Day), but I was also walking around with a sh-t eating grin on my face ALL DAY LONG. “Why?” you may ask? Well it was simply a beautiful, glorious day in NYC. The weather was absolutely perfect — low humidity, sunny, high was in the low 80s, AND there was a delightful breeze. And to top it all off, today was the White Stripes’ birthday!
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend such a wonderful day than heading over to Pier 54 to attend the kick-off show of this year’s River Rocks festival at Hudson River Park. Over the years I’ve attended my fair share of River Rocks summer concerts, and they are always a delight to attend. Free music by the water — you really cannot go wrong, can you?
Yes, it’s true that the show started about 30 minutes after it was supposed to, with synthy Canadian dream pop band Austra taking the stage after 7:30pm. Dressed like a bunch of art school hipsters (high-waisted skirts, lace tops, glitter on their faces, huge glasses, neon hot pants, among other fashion statements that would make an American Apparel clerk blush), it’s a bit hard to take this up-and-coming band seriously at first, but make no mistake, Austra is going places.
Their atmospheric pop is a lovely thing to hear indeed — singer-songwriter Katie Stelmanis‘ voice has the ability to sound strong yet quivering, and dripping with emotion. Music that can equally serve as indie dance music AND the soundtrack to an elegant modern ballet, Austra’s sound is complex and compelling, and I urge you to check them out if you don’t know them already.
Headliners tUnE-yArDs were equally amazing. Merrill Garbus is absolutely captivating to watch as she layers and loops her vocal samples, drum beats, and various other organic sounds to create complex soundscapes that definitely get your body moving.
The perfect set of acts for the carefree, fun-loving spirit that should radiate from a free summer concert event. By the end of the night the crowd’s hands were up in the air, people were happy and dancing their little heart outs. There was a beautiful bright summer moon casting a glow over everyone, and the lights of Manhattan and New Jersey twinkled like jewels in the night. Then to top it all off, celebratory fireworks lit up the sky during tUnE-yArDs’ encore song.
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