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Four bands had played at Littlefield in Brooklyn already for the final day of NYC Popfest 2012, and four more still had to take the stage as the marathon of a session continued. The end of the night would have a very British feel to it, as three of the four acts were from across the pond. Those acts were White Town, The Wave Pictures, and Allo Darlin', while the last American group sandwiched in there was The Ladybug Transistor. Check out the gallery from the sets above and read the recap below (and here's the recap from the first half of Sunday).
Following the solid set by The Holiday Crowd was the solo act White Town. Jyoti Mishra took the stage with just his guitar and his backing tracks helped fill out the rest of his sound on most of his songs (which he records mostly on his own, which is quite impressive). Mishra really wowed me with his soft, delicate voice. It fit well for his slower songs and for the more pop-sounding ones.
The song that really got the crowd going was “Your Woman”, which apparently was some kind of hit back in 1997 (when I was still too young to fully comprehend any kind of pop culture). The song has an unmistakable intro now that I've heard it a couple times, and tons of hoots and hollers rolled out as Mishra began to sing. Most people in the crowd started singing along with him, and his infectious smile added a lot of warmth to the performance. He was also incredibly engaging and friendly, which didn't hurt either.
The Wave Pictures
The Wave Pictures brought some gold old-fashioned rock to the stage at Littlefield, and no one was complaining about that one bit. Guitarist and lead singer Dave Tattersall jammed hard, with some impressive solos on most songs. Even when the guitar wasn't the feature, little flairs were added here and there that took the sound to a different level. It was some of the finest guitar work I saw all festival, and in quite some time to be honest. Combined with some smooth bass from Franic Rozycki and drums from Jonny Helm (and the occasional trumpet from a man named Simon), their songs were easy to hum along to and easy to dance to.
On top of their jamming and impressive instrumental skill, the songs the band performed were really nice. Lyrically, their tunes spoke of love, heartache, and many more complex topics while sounding purely delightful (or sullen, depending on the mood of the song). They were all extremely thoughtful and touching, like “I Thought Of You Again.” Helm, who was limited on the set due to a stiff neck (sustained during some frisbee playing), came out and sang two beautiful songs with very little backing sounds to isolate his voice. The first song, “Sleepy Eye”, was a lovely romantic song. The second, “Now You Are Pregnant”, was not romantic at all. It was about being in love with a girl who's pregnant with another man, and Helm told us it was a depressing song.
What made that performance incredibly endearing was that Helm twice messed up the second verse of the song. He walked away and apologized, then said he would try it again. The crowd voiced their approval. When he messed up the second time, he was about ready to give up when Tattersall strolled over and sang the lyrics with him to make sure he got it right. It was a nice moment, and the crowd let him know how much they enjoyed it.
Tour mates Allo Darlin' joined them on stage to play their final song “Cassius Clay”, and everyone was wearing big grins as they played the fun number.
The Ladybug Transistor
The final U.S. act of the festival, The Ladybug Transistor has been around the NYC indie scene since the mid-90s, and their soothing sound (complete with some trumpet and glockenspiel) blended nicely together. I think their set was the first time I had heard a glockenspiel solo showcased during a song, and it was very awesome to witness.
Their music almost had a jazzy quality to it. Everything was paced so nicely, from Julia Rydholm's bass to Kyle Forester's keys to Gary Olsen's vocals and occasional trumpet playing, this group had such a tight grip on everything. The songs all had such a genial and warm quality, and it was all very easy to listen to. The penultimate set at NYC Pop Fest 2012 was a highly enjoyable one indeed, and one that set the stage for the grand finale that was about to come.
Ending the evening and the festival on a high note was Allo Darlin' from London. Half of the group is from Australia (Elizabeth Morris – vocals, ukelele, guitar and Bill Botting – bass, vocals) while the other half hails from Kent (Paul Rains – guitar, vocals and Mikey Collins – drums, vocals). Even their entrance had this bouncy quality to it, and I could tell this would be a fitting conclusion to the show.
It should be noted that Morris' voice is positively gorgeous. You could put that over any music and it would sound beautiful. Combine that with a delightful ukulele, some cheery guitar from Rains, a cool bass line from Botting (who knows how to take that bass line for a walk) and tight drums, and the mix is sweet, fun pop music for any and everyone. Literally everyone in the building was dancing during the set, and the band couldn't resist either. Everyone was bouncing around on stage, and despite taking off his shoes, Botting was still hopping up and down and all around while playing his bass.
Everything about the band and their set was pleasing. From their disposition, to the harmonies from all the members of the band, to the wonderful stage presence, to the ukulele, they simply could do no wrong. They played to the crowd perfectly, especially on the track “Kiss Your Lips” where they reference Weezer songs. They stopped the song prematurely, then broke into “Buddy Holly” as the crowd joined in. The packed house at Littlefield definitely agreed, and roared loud when they left the stage before their encore.
Morris returned to the stage alone, and played the incredibly subdued and touching song “Tallulah” for the hushed crowd. After that beautiful tune, the rest of the band came out and they invited Dave and Jonny from The Wave Pictures up on stage to play for a song. After that, they finished up by inviting Gary from The Ladybug Transistor up for one last song. With that note, and even though the crowd pleaded, the set and the festival were over. But it was a joyful ending to a weekend full of terrific music, and a fitting conclusion for NYC Popfest 2012.
Check back tomorrow for some videos from all four days of the show and for some final thoughts on the festival overall.