Ellen Lee checks out the CBGB Festival in the heart of Times Square, New York City
This past Saturday, October 12th, the 2nd annual CBGB Music and Film Festival in New York City concluded with an amazing and FREE line-up of top bands and DJs, along with some of the city's best food, retail and entertainment vendors.
The weather could not have been more perfect -- warm, but not too hot, and a beautiful blue sky with a scattering of clouds. The festival spanned Broadway, with the main stage just above West 46th Street by the TKTS booth, and a smaller stage below 54th Street, right by the Ed Sullivan Theater. The line-up of performers was split up between the two stages, which resulted in some hustling and decision-making.
Earlier in the day, the festival revisited the '90s by kicking off with sets by Lisa Loeb and The Wallflowers, who both still sounded as good as they did back in the day. I got to meet Loeb and thought about telling her how my girls and I love to karaoke her big hit "Stay (I Missed You)," but chickened out. Jakob Dylan, lead singer of The Wallflowers, marveled at finally singing "6th Avenue Heartache" on the streets of the city for which the song was named.
After grabbing some tasty barbecue, we headed to the northern stage for the somewhat new, yet familiar band, Divine Fits, which is helmed by Britt Daniel of Spoon fame, and Dan Boeckner, formerly of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs. They were a fantastic collision of indie rock goodness, playing a tight set of guitar-heavy licks interspersed with some fine lyricism. Though they only have one album together as Divine Fits, Daniel and Boeckner complement each other's style very well. They felt very cohesive both in music as well as personality.
We chose to remain at the same stage for Brooklyn favorites Grizzly Bear, who are coming off an excellent album released last year, Shields
. While a good half of the set focused on that album, we were treated to a few older cuts, including my personal favorite, "Knife," which really slays me with the harmonies between members Ed Droste and Chris Taylor.
Unfortunately, sticking around for Grizzly Bear meant missing out on seeing James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records do his DJ set, but we were fortunate that the festival organizers broadcast it on speakers up and down Broadway, which kept us dancing for half an hour.
After Grizzly Bear finished, we walked down Broadway to catch most of the set by headliners, My Morning Jacket. It was kind of surreal, walking down a street normally packed with cars and jaywalking tourists, with office buildings and billboards galore above, while singing along to the soaring vocals of Jim James and his band. Even though we couldn't get very close to the stage, it was still a treat to watch this band play to a packed Times Square. I especially was thrilled when Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, and Antibalas joined the band in singing "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am" off the new Fela Kuti tribute album, Red Hot + Fela
It was a splendid day to celebrate live music, CBGB and New York City!