Crystal Stilts + Violens + Chairlift | 92y Tribeca | 10.11.2008

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This was the "soft opening" of 92Y's new cultural and arts center in Tribeca. Three of New York's most buzzed-about new bands played and we were allowed the wander around and explore the space, which includes a screening room (showing Anna Biller's faux cult film Viva and and genuine article, Santo Contra la Invasion de los Marcianos), a cafe, galleries and classrooms. The main draw was the very nice performance space with its swanky bar, nice lighting, well-lit stage and two giant support beams that will block the view of many during crowded performances. Despite that it wil be a nice place to see a show if they work out the kinks.

I was a little shocked there weren't more people there for this — it was free to get in and the lineup was kind of amazing, in a NYC up-and-comer kind of way. Lord knows I've written about Crystal Stilts enough, and Violens and Chairlift too. Most of the folks who might've attended were probably at that Diesel 30 extravaganza out in Red Hook. I'm going to guess there were maybe 150 attendees, many of whom seemed to be there just to check the place out.

The biggest problem of the night was the attrocious sound. All three bands featured keyboards prominently but apart from Chairlift you couldn't hear them at all. Crystal Stilts, playing in the most brightly lit stage of their career, still managed a great good show. The band are clearly loosening up — singer Brad, usually stoic with eyes closed, actually cracked a smile more than once. Violens suffered the most from the poor mix — Jorge Elbrecht's guitar was knock-you-back loud, overpowering everything else. Given the right sonics, Violens are amazing; tonight was more violence than violins.

Chairlift had the best sound but really should have played first. By the end of the evening people were talking more than paying attention and their ethereal, synthy sound (which I do really like but at times drifts perilously close to Enya territory), light on drums, just didn't hold the crowd's attention. Two girls standing in the front row next to us talked loudly enough to cause my friend Kelly to tell them to shut the hell up — and she's one of the nicest people I know! 

Anyway, a trial run like this is just the sort of thing a place like this needs, and certainly the sound seems like something that isn't a permanent problem (like those big-ass columns, shades of Tramps if you remember that place). They'll figure it out, and 92Y is a welcome addition to NYC's venues.