Sure, Facebook can be pretty entertaining at times. (Who among us can resist looking at all 87 photos of that random kid from high school?) But I also love to make fun of Facebook and treat it with a bit of healthy disdain. My real love (my home page of the last five years) is Last.fm, the self-proclaimed “social music revolution.”
On Last.fm, you get one small profile photo, your bio is restricted to the far right column, and the “shoutbox” (akin to FB’s “wall”) is only ancillary. Instead, music is the focal point, and that’s how it should be. Instead of spying on peoples’ photos, you can discover new music, create your own concert calendar, and stream a personalized radio station.
So when Last.fm announced that they were going to actually put on a couple of concerts (one in London, and one here in New York), I was excited to learn that they were looking for new opportunities to grow and foster a community of music-lovers.
More out of curiosity than devotion to a particular band on the bill, I decided to attend Friday night’s first ever Last.fm Festival. When I got to Terminal 5, I was both dismayed to see how long the line was and excited that the event had sold-out days in advance. I wanted to turn to everyone in line and start talking (or rather, gushing and evangelizing) to them about the virtues of Last.fm.
I don’t know what exactly I was expecting. Red and white balloons, perhaps? Free t-shirts? What proceeded was more or less a regular show.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin began to play even earlier than their advertised start time. (Terminal 5 seems to be one of those venues with a strict curfew.) The Missouri band was charming if not a bit lacking in pizazz. They are exactly the kind of safe indie rock you might expect to be in the background of a teen drama on the WB (or I guess that’s the CW these days).
Talented but not too groundbreaking – that was the mantra of the evening. (And also – crazy long band names.) Of course, the venue tried desperately to spice things up. Beginning with Two Door Cinema Club’s set, the lights began to take over. The strobes in particular were so bright and insistent that I found myself closing my eyes to avoid the harsh overexposure. Though they have been around for much less time than the openers, the Irish group sported a more confident and compelling sound (or was that just the guitar riffs talking?). If the rapid fist-pumping at Friday night’s show is any indication, something about the band sure seems to be grabbing the kids. They’ve managed to obtain this week’s #12 spot on Last.fm’s “hottest new music” list. My take? There may have been little variation among the songs, but I’ll concede that each one played like a well-crafted anthem unto itself.
Up next was the “fucking excited” Tokyo Police Club, cue the strobe lights. Again, I can’t say I was wowed by their performance, but they definitely strived to keep things interesting. To add some spice to the mix, Passion Pit’s Ian Hultquist picked up a guitar and joined in for “End of a Spark” early in the set, and about midway through, keyboardist Ghaham White stopped everything to conduct the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to his band mate Dave Monks. (There was even a cake.)
The concept of the co-headlining show has always struck me as a bit odd, but the two main acts of the evening handled the ambiguous concept of the encore quite well. Instead of each coming out to play an additional song or two, they joined forces for a rocking cover of The Strokes’ 2001 hit “Last Nite.”
Even if Friday night’s show won’t go down as one of my favorites, I’m still excited about what the future holds for live Last.fm-sponsored shows, and from what I understand, this was just the first of many. Maybe next time, there will even be a girl somewhere in the line-up.
Audio coming soon!