22 May 2009

POPFEST! day two: cats on fire, liechtenstein, the radio dept., and the tartans

Cats on Fire with Liechtenstein, The Radio Dept., and The Tartans @ Don Hill's, New York (May 15, 2009)

Late again, I walked as fast as I could across town to get to Don Hill’s (the lol home of all those infamous Misshapes parties), hoping I wouldn’t miss The Tartans. Luckily, they were just setting up when I arrived.

Hailing from LA, The Tartans have released some of my favorite songs of the past year. Outside of their hits, though, their other songs seem to fall a bit flat, but I hope that will change as they write more. “My Baby Doesn’t Care for You,” “Cats of Camerford,” and “1939” are all great songs, and all of which were played during their short set. I was glad not to have missed them, and look forward to more of their classic pop-tinged lo-fi twee, somewhere along the lines of California friends like The Aislers Set.

The Tartans

The Radio Dept. was definitely the most highly anticipated band for Popfest as far as I could tell. They sold out the Saturday show and were billed as a “secret band” for Friday’s show. Now, I’m not a HUGE Radio Dept. fan, but I was excited to see them. Sadly, I was sorely disappointed. The usually lush instrumentation seemed muddled, and they seemed to avoid any of their real sensational songs: a total letdown.

My low spirits were made lower with the over-priced spirits at the bar ($7 for a watered-down gin and tonic? a $4 PBR? I just can’t get used to those NYC prices…). Luckily, Liechtenstein was phenomenal and made me forget all my other troubles (like really sore feet). A little less fuzzed out than they sound on their recordings, they made up for it with perfect harmonies and a great preview of the new album (which I scored a copy of already!).


And then, perhaps the reason I most wanted to come to Popfest: Cats on Fire. The Province Complains was one of my favorite albums of 2006, and three years later, Our Temperance Movement did not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, Cats on Fire’s live performance was just as flawless as their recordings. Mattias seems like the perfect frontman: reserved but fascinating, delivering the most masterful set of Popfest. I am pretty sure I could be happy listening to these Fins forever, so I just hope they keep making music forever.

Left in a near euphoria, I crawled back up 8th Avenue, looking forward to yet another day of pop.

The Tartans - "The Cats of Camerford"
The Tartans - "My Baby Doesn't Care for You"

The Radio Dept. - "Freddie and the Trojan Horse"

Liechtenstein - "Postcard"

Cats on Fire - "Horoscope"