Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fang Island @ Brooklyn Bowl

Fang Island @ Brooklyn Bowl-May 27th,2011

When the Brooklyn based Fang Island took the stage for a hometown show as part of The Deli Magazine’s Best of NYC Fest, the energy was decidedly relaxed. A cool summer evening at Brooklyn Bowl makes for an ideal night out. Anyone who was at all “relevant” in NYC was there, with bowling, revelry and hipsters milling about promoting their various ironic art and music projects.

Fang Island formed as part of an “art project” while at Road Island School of Design, but the feeling in the crowd was more reminiscent of a pep rally than a gallery opening. The audience was slightly more energetic than a usual indie rock crowd with only about 75 percent of the audience standing absolutely still arms folded. The large standing room venue, which doubles as a bowling alley, could very well have been the most inviting room in Williamsburg that evening. The positivity starts from the top down. Fang Island self describes their sound as “everyone high-fiving everyone,” an assessment that encapsulates the band’s performance. This self description has been quoted ad nauseam in the press, yet a thousand times later it still sounds cute. The group’s personnel consists of three guitarists along with a drum and bass, members double on keyboard at any given time. The result is a lush, layered sound that is conversational and rich in interplay.

Fang Island represents a new type of guitar driven music outside the traditional crew of hotshot pickers who trade licks and solos between verses and choruses. No one in the group chooses to take a specific solo or even a lead vocal line. Guitar melodies and danceable beats lay the groundwork for chanted, anthemic vocals. The extended instrumentals are extremely structured and the word math rock come to mind. In the vein of great performance bands that have come before them, Fang Island has an unconventional assortment of tunes and arrangements that are optimized for a long set as opposed to a radio spot. The band has been described as bordering on progressive rock and musically, has a surprising amount in common with jamband heroes Umphrey’s Mcgee.

When the band took to the stage around midnight, the whole crowd was swaying if not dancing. Primarily playing songs from their recently released, self-titled album, Fang Island presented an engaging concert experience; the largely instrumental music blended together, holding a consistently upbeat tempo for the entire performance. New Jersey based multi-instrumentalist (and mastermind behind experimental rock group Delicate Steve) Steve Marion took a drive over the Varrizano to join on a spirited version of “Davey Crockett.” The night climaxed with “Daisy,” a tune featured in a shortly lived reality show but beloved for being perhaps the most euphoric rock anthem in years. High fives all around.

SETLIST – 5/27/11 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, New York
Swear Boys
The Illinois
Seek It Out
Life Coach
Welcome Wagon
Careful Crossers
Davy Crockett*
Dreams Of Dreams

* With Steve Marion from Delicate Steve, Alex Barton and Justin Wright

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