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New York Cool - Music

Sean Bones, Francis and The Lights and Les Savy Favs
Masonic Temple
March 13, 2009

Written by Turhan Caylak
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Les Savy Fav

Arriving early and reconnoitering the venue at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple I hastily sequestered a spot directly in front of the stage where I could get an up-close look at the bands I was about to see this clear and chilly night.

Off the bat, the commodious space was a sight to behold. With its classic proscenium arch and general standing area flanked by a surrounding mezzanine the place could assume a populace of about 2,000 persons.

I got chills when I thought of the sonorous melodies and piercing electricity that would soon fill and reverberate throughout the music hall. Despite the slow and sleepy start, Fort Greene, and the venue’s inhabitants, along with the bands themselves, finally arrived with that sound I was hoping for...eventually. But, I’ll get back to that.

Sean Bones Sean Bones

Commencing with a sparse crowd, Sean Bones, a new project by lead guitarist, Sean Sullivan, who fronts Frenchkiss Record’s very own Sam Champion, opened the night in a very relaxed fashion.

With their cool and smoky Reggae sound I began thinking I would love to see these guys in a more intimate setting, like a dive spot in the Lower East Side, a grimy dig somewhere in the heart of Williamsburg, or even Brooklyn’s forever happening Bushwick Ave.

Not much of a showman, Sean Sullivan however, did take the stage and helm his band with a bit of alacrity as a proud front man should. Cracking some jokes in between songs Sullivan displayed just the sort of temperament a man should have while he enjoys rocking out on any stage at any time.

To the crowd who bounced and grooved to the rhythms of the night Sullivan came off as a firm believer in his own music. Fingering his axe with finesse while even losing the connection to his distortion peddle at one point, Sullivan slyly got back on track where only the first row of patrons or even his band mates could’ve noticed.

All in all, with about six or seven pieces to show for it, Sean Bones fell short in jump starting the crowd. In my opinion, I know I’m there to see the headliner, but, if you’re the card’s opening act, that’s exactly what I want you to do: ACT. Sure, in the studio, go crazy and be cushioned by the fact that you can do a passel of re-recordings, but, on stage, my friends, blow us away and be thankful you’re up there. A lot of us don’t have the talent or the cajones to do what you do. So, when we hear your music for the first time and say, “I gotta see these guys live,” and then witness your energy as the evening’s opener, a letdown is what comes to my mind.


Francis and the Lights


Talk about a fun act, Francis and the Lights, led by the jazzy and swift mover and shaker, Francis Farewell Starlite, kicked the night’s events into high gear.

Pretentiousness aside, Mr. Starlite knows how to achieve an electric symbiosis between himself and the audience at hand. Think Maroon 5 when you hear the vocals of the handsome captain who leads this funky group. With a high yet mellifluous singing ability, Starlite is clearly that: a star, at least in his own mind.

To boot, when Mr. Farewell dances and slides across the stage in between mouthing off his lyrics, Michael Jackson and James Brown popped into frontal lobes. I have to say Starlite’s rather calculative and dexterous when it comes to showing off his movement skills.

As for the music, Francis and the Lights sound better live than in the studio if you can believe. That’s not to say that they’re a meager or timorous faction. It’s just not my sound.

When I strap my ears to the speakers of any sound system I’m always ready for a good old bluesy guitar riff that resonates the vessels in my heart. Frankly, I couldn’t care if the world were on fire if I had to only listen to their tracks as I’m doing right now on Myspace.

However, dear readers, The Lights are fun to watch and are totally into their music. With his high coiffed mane looking like a lithesome Robert Smith, Francis Farewell has a good thing going for him. He grabs your attention, looks you in the eyes, and inspires you to jump around like a court jester does to appease a royal court. Even the monkey I brought with me, my pal Chris, turned diametrically opposite from the stage, flailed his arms and hopped around like a great buffoon does to keep the crowd going. At one point this fine chum of mine, unbeknownst to him, knocked my pen from my grips. Searching for a pellet in a pile of buck shot I finally found the implement in a cold puddle of PBR. It wasn’t until I used my Black Keys T-shirt to wipe off the wetness that I could get back to jotting down what I wanted to say: Mr. Farewell will be a star one day; however, he needs to sound like he does ‘live’ in order to get there. We need to hear him as if he were parading around with sudden jolts and rhythmic wiggles to become propelled to his music. Because if he hadn’t done a live show yet and all I had was Myspace to listen to his tracks I would deign to say I would ever travel outside my door to review these guys. Sorry, someone had to say it.


Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav

After a timely smoke break and an arduous trip to drain my euphemistic pipes I was raring to go to see the night’s closing act, Les Savy Fav.

Finding my way and jostling through the now packed theater, I finally sidled up next to my photographer friend, Amy. I even bought her a PBR due to her niceties all night from the start of our trip over to the Masonic Temple.


Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav

Watching the road crew set up and placing a plethora of fluffy, leopard-skinned, goose-feathered pillows around the stage a smile gradually grew across my face. I was about to see the biggest buffoon of the night; aside from my friend Chris, who was probably fondling a girl somewhere in the back at this point. PBR’s will do that to man.


Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav

Known for his on stage antics and humorous taste in wardrobe, lead singer Tim Harrington is an absolute hoot. Grizzly Adams with a big heart flits across the imagination when this sizeable teddy bear takes the stage. Sporting a not-so-glamorous nightgown himself, Harrington immediately sends a telepathic yet prodigious message to the audience: I’m gonna have fun and so are you.

Like any good front man, Harrington draws you in with his childlike sensibilities and then decides to playfully toss you one of his pillows as if he were the host of his own rock-out slumber party. Soon after the mangled cushion returns, ostensibly masticated by a crowd monster, Harrington grabs some flying feathers and begins to paste them to the top of his dome where anyone could tell that hair used to reside.


Les Savy Fav Fan

With their definite place in art rock, Les Savy Fav filled the room with their musically erratic and melodically jumpy style. Harrington sometimes yells his lyrics which to some can be unintelligible, however, at a rock show that cares about what your favorite band is spewing from their mouth when most fans know all the lyrics in the first place.

Syd Butler, the band’s bassist, also the owner of FrenchKiss Records, Les Savy Fav’s label, does two things well: Plucking out the rhythms on his electric stick and driving the band to its histrionic heights. Butler can also pick winners with front men, especially with Harrington leading the way. This band would be nothing without the likes of him. If you extricated Harrington from the crew Les Savy Fav would be just another new addition to the post-hardcore wave that continues to pile up audiences and speak to a perpetual generation of people who simply want to rock out to a good show. That’s what Les Savy Fav does for us and what I foresee them doing for years to come.

 



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