Santos Party House is an amazing place. The atmosphere is immediately welcoming. It has the most fabulous sound system. Few can compete because this place was specifically designed for musicians and listeners. Also, a great place to hold a benefit for a good cause to save a neighborhood Indie video store Cinema Nolita.
The Santos Party House sticks to a schedule. To my dismay, I took my sweet time and strolled the four blocks to arrive around 9:00, only to see The Beets on stage playing their final song to an appreciative, engaged crowd.
I caught them at CMJ in 08 and loved their set. So I approached them after the set with apologies and asked them a few questions about the upcoming tour with Vivian Girls and their feelings about playing at Santos. My lead-in should read; The Beets Had A Sound Check!! Seriously that is a big deal, and in this place, sound checks are worth doing because it works. They have played outdoors at DIY events, beaches, rooftops, and unofficial all-age shows. Although that is a great way to see music, it is not always the best way to hear it. The sweetest thing to watch was all the patrons complimenting the band on their set. I Informed them that they were the lead in the picture at the Brooklyn Vegan segment "What's Going On Monday". As they embark on a tour with Vivian Girls starting August 25th, they have a very positive experience to draw on. I love the mix of all-girl and all-boy bands on the same bill.
I rarely see groups like The Virgins. I came out to see The Beets and usually concentrate more on emerging talent. I thoroughly enjoyed their fantastic seamless set. Tight and focused is what I have to say. The frontman and lead singer, Donald Cumming was barefoot, wearing optical leggings and a tee. His long, lean body is in constant motion showing off his less-than-fluid geeky ballet gestures. It was endearing. The guitarist broke out, occasionally exaggerating a long strum with an extended arm or an occasional knee dip.
They played a mashed-up disco/ new york / new wave with edgy, catchy hooks. At first, I felt everything sounded repetitive, but they scaffolded and built energy with the electric leads, some Reggie beats, and funk. I liked when Cumming's sang alone and pulled out an unexpected harmonica. Slowly the others weighed in. The very enthusiastic female crowd, including me, took it all in. They have a great European fall tour doing major festivals with one detour in Texas at Austin City Limits.
Animal Collective DJ (Avey Tare and Geologist) set started out with little fanfare. It's possible that during a restroom break, I might have missed the introduction. When I returned, they were busy in the DJ loft to the right of the stage. The surroundings were transformed, and the large disco ball rotated in the center of the space with fog and laser lights. They started with a long psychedelic song with animal-like screams sporadically interspersed between rhythms. The twisted remix of standards like "Rock Lobster" (pretty sure) and Abba's "Take A Chance On Me" was catching on, and the groove was setting in. Suddenly, their set was hijacked by an unexpected appearance of The Film director Abel Ferrara and crew. They took the stage and played raw rock & roll, with Abel having a propensity for course street grime rap. the stage became crowded with all the female hosts connected with Cinema Nolita, including the lead singer of The Virgins.
Animal Collective sat this one out, checking cell phones and sitting on the stairs to the upper loft. After the three-song set, they began again. Still trying to figure out how it turned out, I left after the next song I knew it would take some time for a groove to set in again.