As New York hipsters look to another summer in the city, the always-judgmental crowd looks to evaluate their musical options. There’s Governors Ball at the start of June – hopefully better weather/ground than last year (QRO ’13 recap). The free shows at Central Park SummerStage (QRO venue review) skew towards the highbrow, while those for Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell (QRO venue review) tilt to the family-friendly (save, in both cases, for the pricey ticketed events). Redevelopment at South Street Seaport (QRO venue review) is pushing the free Friday shows there down a block to a smaller stage, with smaller acts, while RiverRocks at Pier 84 (QRO venue review) is still limited to just three evenings. The event/place looking to be the most reliable is House of Vans (QRO venue review), if it’s ‘Vans Classic Brooklyn’ performance on Tuesday, April 29th was anything to go by, with The Horrors, Spires, and Dave Harrington.
Not officially part of the ‘regular season’ at House of Vans, but the first of three ‘Vans Classic’ events across the country held with IAMSOUND Records, that actually may have added to the event, as it felt like Vans was pulling out all, or at least more, stops. There certainly were more Vans logos all over the place, as well as sponsored art & prizes. Vans is a company not shy of using its logo & name (hell, it has its own tour, Vans Warped – QRO ’13 recap), but in general shoe companies are some of the better musical sponsors, and Vans is one of the better shoe company sponsors.
No, they weren’t handing out free sneakers, but there were free drinks – and this time you could drink & watch the band at the same time. Ever since some minors got drinks at the last show of the first season of House of Vans (QRO live review), every summer the place has been divided between the free beer area on the far side of the outside ‘skate park’ (note: also can’t bring skateboards, thanks to those kids…), which is well away from the indoor stage (also can’t see the stage from the further indoors VIP room). That meant a music vs. alcohol choice, never an easy one, but for this night at least, the free beer could be drunk anywhere (possibly because of intermittent rain outside bringing the beer tent in – if that’s what it takes, here’s for rain every night there’s an event at House of Vans…).
DJing that night was Dave Harrington, taking a break from his duties as one-half of up-and-coming electronic act Darkside – think if you could have heard Sam Smith DJing before the world heard of B∆stille. The local opener was Spires, a band with a good indie-rock sound, though a little meat-and-potatoes as opposed to fine steak (though this is Williamsburg, so that meat-and-potatoes are finer/local grown). The main performer was The Horrors, who have been carefully reinvigorating the goth-rock sound. Playing mostly off of their upcoming Luminous, their follow-up to 2011’s Skying (QRO review), yes the lights were dim and the band dressed in black, but that gave a chance to shine for the lighting guy. From the back of the stage he was worth watching all in himself, fiddling with gels and projections, but also rhythmically putting his hands, or somethings in his hands, in front of the projectors (he moved too fast to tell exactly what he was doing).
No word yet on the summer line-up for House of Vans ’14, but it was really nice to be back there at the start of another summer in the Big Apple.
‘Vans Classic’ continues with two more dates, in Chicago & Los Angeles:
5/15/14 – HAERTS, Yawn at Bottom Lounge
5/23/14 – Superhumanoids & special guests at Echoplex