To be honest, the only reason I had any interest in the Modern Sky Festival was because it heralds the NYC return of The Blood Brothers after eight long and lonely years in a simpering musical tundra (see below for fawning bellows) but the more I consider this new crank in the ever-expanding music festival canon, the more it strikes me as one of the more unique and impressive displays of post-pop cultural curation, paring Chinese poetic experimentalists with Afrobeat appreciation, baroque pop party with new seminal NYC deconstructionism and also Cat Power is playing so…yeah…there looks to be some seriously good shit going down in Central Park October 4th and 5th. Let us consider, in depth, eh? Rockit.
(gates are at 5pm this day, hangovers are no excuse)
Deserts Zhang Xuan – 5:50pm
I don’t speak Mandarin nor Cantonese nor any regional dialect contained with the vast expanse of the Chinese mainland so it’s a bit of a challenge to consider the work of Deserts Zhang Xuan as a poet but as a musician she seems well-versed and grown tall out of the tender form of softs strums and whisper works. Teenage me might even called her dreamy.
The Blood Brothers – 6:35pm
I know what I said about reunion stints and I know what I’ll say again and I should probably consider the inordinate power a band like The Blood Brothers has over me when slagging someone so psyched to see MCD (again, again except they were always a shitty live band) because Jesus FUCK am I excited for this band to return from the wilds to revive their Third Mind sounds and visionary post hardcore apex for scrums like me and the kids who never got a chance to ride the skeletal lightning.
Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (re-TROS) – 7:25pm
Obtuse electroish agitprop dissident post punk and roll over, rover it’s the apocalypse NOW! Rumor has it, Brian Eno is fan enough to contribute keys to some of their releases so you know these Beijing wunderkinds are onto some mad overwrought and criminally underappreciated decency. Rubber Tracks spots them too.
Liars – 8:10pm
Liars are weirdos. Deep, bleak fucking weirdos and they have been since they were slinging their Gary Wilson gone baby No Wave shtick at the Knit well over a decade ago and who knows who they’ll be when they take the stage at dusk. Punks? Shamans? Cosmonauts? Whatever they be, it’ll be worth considering since they’ve run the mad gambit more fearlessly than so many of their sonic contemporaries and with so fewer fucks given it’s a wonder they’re not a crime scene.
Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor – 9:10pm
I don’t know William Onyeabor but David Byrne does and he sings the man praises and was part of a BAM celebration of the elusive, Born Again psych funk synth impresario whose work is, more or less, unknown to plebes like me but is well-heralded by the wonk intellects that set the stellar pace for big-up protest conundrums. I have no idea what this set will be or who will take the stage (some dude from Hot Chip, assuredly) but it’ll be a booty-shaking, mind-plating good good time for soul explosions.
(gates are at 2pm this day, your brunch drunk is safe)
Omnipotent Youth Society – 2:30pm
Gentlemanly horn-born soft rocking emphatic states like a cranky Beirut or the latter days of Los Campesinos! sans the suck but with all the heartfelt solitude to share in.
Lenka – 3:10pm
A raspy banged Aussie siren. Pretty quirks and crushable as it gets. Think Zooey Deschanel as played by Ida Maria on a seriously electro pop bikini atoll kick (with periods of laissez symphonics) and you’ve got a good start on your new unrequited love of the Southern Hemisphere.
Queen Sea Big Shark – 3:55pm
Dye orange red electro dance option aesthetic. I can’t tell if this will be brilliant or banal or what but tight pants are tight pants, man. Smolder ’em, if you can.
Shuh Tou – 4:35pm
The undisputed kings of Chinese underground rock (they say), this band has some serious Toxicity vibe after twenty years on and off assemblage. Thudding, wheedling, goofball shards to get the pit started or not…because NYC crowds are lame as fuck.
Second Hand Rose – 5:10pm
Half-dragged smirking sociopolitical rock and roll v. regional instrumentation party hard until the siren song of the state comes to crush us all calls band that, I guess, is fond of the New York Dolls? They are? Fuckin’ a right, then. Any friend of “Trash” is a friend in glory.
The Both – 5:50pm
The cutiest patooties in rock and roll, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are two of the best “fuck it, we’re awesome” understated songwriters around and their collaboration as The Both ought to be a treat for anyone ready, willing and able to let bygones slide and harmonies provide the aces necessary to wile out in lovely.
Stars – 6:50pm
In some early days of the love of my life affair Stars appeared with their whisper-willed “Sleep Tonight” and I was grateful and still am even as the band got more gleeful in their new New Order world of electronic dance sentimentality and though I’ll keep hoping they play that song so I can kiss my one and only under the amber light to remind her how true we’ve been through the shards of being, I’m totally swollen with man tears at this video on account of my upbringing.
Cat Power – 7:45pm
Okay, Cat Power. Many moons ago I saw you play at Tramps between sets by Joan of Arc and Girls Against Boys and I guess you might have been great but all I could wonder is why the fuck you wouldn’t get your hair out of your face and perhaps something else was happening but the audience that came to see you play your sad songs kept trying to kick me in the nuts for dancing in your absentia and I hear you’re better now in all respects, so good. I want to adore your mercury.