There was a nice turnout at The Shank on Thursday for We Are the Wiley, a benefit for local musician Jon Wiley who racked up some hefty hospital bills after a scare earlier this year. Jon (who's a friend, full disclosure) fronts Spacecamp, who double as Adam Green's and Lightspeed Champion's backing band, both of whom were on the bill, along with synth-pop iPod ad stars Charilift. It was a cool evening but blazing hot in The Shank, and though giant fans helped it felt a bit like being in a convection oven. Everyone bought more beer because of it, so maybe it wasn't so bad.
Lightspeed Champion (aka Dev Hynes) started off the evening, playing a batch of songs from his upcoming solo album that the Spacecamp boys worked on too. Dev is kind of a musical genius — the guy is only 25 — and it's kind of amazing to think this is the same guy who was in the chaotic, semi-moronic Test Icicles. Where his first solo album, Falling Off Lavendar Bridge, was full of anthemic folk, he has now moved on to '70s epic rock (Bowie, Queen, Elton John), complete with monster choruses and spiraling twin lead guitar solos. I've seen him three times in the last month (Mercury Lounge, then opening for Phoenix at Music Hall of Williamsburg) but I still don't really know the names of any of the new songs, but this may have been his best performance yet. Like at MHoW, the band finished with a cover of Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heals" but this time they brought Keith from We Are Scientists onstage to sing lead vocals. Reading the lyrics from his iPhone, he did a credible Roland Orzibal impersonation and I've got video of it and one of Dev's new tunes at the bottom of this post.
Next up was Adam Green who is totally entertaining if not completely out of his mind. As I've said before, with his baritone loungy singing style and the stage antics, I can't help but think this must've been what seeing The Doors was maybe like. Except Adam doesn't go "dark," really. I kept waiting for a goat to appear on stage, but thankfully no. We did get a nice duet between and Adam and Jon, doing Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" (I think that's what it was, definitely Hank).
Chairlift used their headlining slot to experiment, reading "Goodnight Moon" to the crowd with some New Age-y musical background, and then followed with their hit "Bruises" that then turned into a long jam that found Dev Hynes joining them on drums. It was interesting, but it kind of cleared the room. But by that point it was late, we were full of beer and we were there to help a friend anyway.
If you'd like to still donate, you can do so via PayPal, and also please check out benefit sponsor Wanduta who is helping independent musicians get affordable healthcare. A couple more photos and those Lightspeed videos after the jump.
Lightspeed Champion – New Song
Lightspeed Champion (featuring Keith from WAS) – Head Over Heels