By Jett Wells
Saturday’s Siren Music Festival at New York City’s Coney Island easily could have been a downer. The heat, the inevitable closure of the neighborhood’s iconic theme park and the smaller-than-usual lineup should’ve derailed what is normally one of the premiere free music events of the summer. But if there was any malaise, you would never have known it thanks to inspired sets from bands like Japandroids and Tiny Masters of Today.
At 1 p.m., the long day of indie rock started with the pint-sized-garage group Tiny Masters of Today. At the ages of 13, 15 and 19, the band pounded through a solid set filled with mean power chords, wicked drum solos and bratty lyrics. The crowd was just dumbfounded how small and young these kids were but better yet, how well they could thrash a guitar.
“We’re pretty careful to only play on school holidays,” Ada told MTV News later. “Some of my friends [know about the band], but the rest don’t really care. It’s not like a big deal.” She said that despite the fact that two-thirds of the band are way underage, they still enjoy parts of the rock star lifestyle. “I like the travel,” she said. “I don’t like the actually traveling part, but I like being there.”
Next up were Micachu and the Shapes, a British trio who continued to fascinate and confuse people. It’s easy to see why: Even though they were at an outdoor festival show, they still experimented with ukulele and awkward drum repetitions, which were thrilling early and uncomfortable as they wore on. Just like their latest album Jewellry, you’re not necessarily sure what you’ve just experienced — though it still leaves you wanting more.
The real secret at Siren Music Festival was a guitar-and-drum duo from Vancouver called Japandroids. Lead singer and guitarist Brian King had the look of a school boy and admitted he had never been on such a large stage before and that he’d do all he could do use the space. What he did was steal the entire day, flinging himself across the stage with reckless abandon, coaxing scratchy shards of feedback from his instrument. To add to the theatricality, King ran up next to drummer David Prowse several times, and each time, the two tried to outmatch each others’ intensity by playing harder and louder — a competition King won easily.
The long day of sweat, music and sideshow antics wrapped up early with solid main stage sets care of the Raveonettes and Built to Spill. Like the cheap cotton candy peddled in the carnival atmosphere, the day’s bill left everybody with a sweet taste left on their tongues.