I’m covering The Strokes’ live return at Cosmo tonight, so I’ll be late to Neon Reverb. That’s too bad, since Night 3 features two bands I’d really like to see, Montreal’s Braids and Brooklyn’s Asobi Seksu. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch one post-Strokes.
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Strokes opener Devendra Banhart has just finished his set when word comes across that the Bunkhouse bill has flip-flopped. Asobi will go on at midnight, with Braids behind them. I’m torn: disappointed I’ll probably miss Asobi, which I’d planned on seeing, but excited at the prospect of hearing Braids. We’ll see how it goes.
The Strokes finish their four-song encore at 12:15 and I high-tail it out of the Chelsea Ballroom, through the pool area and down two elevators to my car, then out of the parking garage, away from the Strip and eventually Downtown. As I enter the Bunkhouse I witness Asobi Seksu building to an intense song climax, which I’m guessing means the show has just ended with me standing in the doorway. I’m wrong, happily. I get three more numbers from the shoegazey New York quartet, which reminds me of noisy, early Stereolab. Tiny frontwoman Yuki Chikudate is impossible to see behind the body mass on the floor, but it’s easy to hear her high-pitched vocals over the clamor being created by her mates. Asobi closes with a cover—unrecognizable to me in its sped-up form—of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Never Understand,” then exits the stage, leaving me wishing Julian Casablancas had shaved 15 minutes off his pre-concert ritual. Still, I’m thrilled to have made it in time to see any of the set.
Braids, a fast-rising foursome from Canada, takes forever setting up, and I’m starting to doubt it will prove worth the wait … when the band launches into its first number. Okay, this sounds cool. Very cool, actually. Two airy female voices float above a variety of soft instrumentation, which occasionally explodes into something beat-driven and bouncy. It’s arty enough for the All Tomorrow’s Parties set (Braids plays an ATP show in London in May), yet not inapproachable for a late-night Bunkhouse crowd. In short: the most intoxicating performance I’ve caught this weekend.
I’ve heard good things about tonight’s StrEATS food-truck gathering at the El Cortez’s outdoor promenade, so I jet over for a look (and hopefully, a Fukuburger). But when I get there around 2:30, er, 3:30 a.m. (damn daylight savings!) the trucks’ windows are down. Ah well. But hey, The Skooners, tonight’s “surprise” act, are going strong on a stage at the far end of the plaza. I catch a few tunes, then call it a night. Hey, look, a couple dudes are getting arrested inside the El Cortez as I walk through. Maybe they were just upset they couldn’t get their Fuku, either.