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Popfest 97 New York Reviews

Gary Miller

Hi everybody,

I wanted to chime in with my NYC popfest memories. First, I really want to thank everybody who put it together, and gumption was really happy to be a part of it (esp. since we were snowed out last year!).

It was really great to see a lot of faces to put with names. I want to give a shout out to JJ in particular -- I swear I'll have cheerwine for you next time. It was good to meet Peter Green, Kat, Maura, Jill, Tweekid, Dave pulsars.

It was great to talk with Cindeee Jumprope and discover that we have about 25 mutual friends from all over the country.

It was, as always, great to see Stephen Wood again. I re-met Testcard. I'm glad you liked "hate paper doll," Keith.

We drove up from NC on Friday, so we missed the activities of that evening. However, Saturday night was a blast. Since I'm in Gumption, I'll skip the review. But, I will say I was really happy to get to play in front of people whose opinions matter to me.

Shoestrings were marvelous. Rose and Mario are really nice people, and they performed beautifully quiet songs, which were great even though they said they didn't get much practice in.

Silly Pillows were pretty kooky. Racecar was probably the best I've ever seen them. Push Kings were good, but looser than I was expecting. Holiday was wonderful. This was actually our 6th gig with them, and it was their best. It's all been said -- they'll be missed.

I'd like to fess up my indiepop crush for the weekend: It was Jill. I'm sure she didn't know it. Jill, you're rad! (hopefully you don't have a violent boyfriend who hangs out on the list -- I'd hate to be cyberstalked:)

I want to see more opinions -- it was a room full of list kids: let's see more thoughts!

bye for now, Gary (kat kinsman)

Hello Poppets,

This is going to be very short...longer review tomorrow when I've actually slept. More listies tonight than I've ever seen outside of Maura's living room. I am absolutely bleeding from the eyeballs with love for Jumprope-my favorites for the night....Coloring Book NonstopJen is way up on the list of cool and crushworthy girl drummers...apres show near death escape as Racecar Jina and Brian dodged cars crossing the street near Astor Place (probably still in a synth-tinged fog from our post-show dinner game of 80's Pop Trivia---and by the way, WHO THE HELL SANG "JAM ON IT"???????? We NEED to know!!!) hell, I'll write a coherent review tomorrow. By the way-in case anyone cares-I was the girl with the elbow length gloves introducing the bands and handing out the cherry pins...yup, that's me...(sorry! not a bit twee am I?...)...

A pink-iced slice of birthday cake...shimmering soap bubble...wink and a wish on a shooting star---that was our weekend here in the glittery city. Perfect, sweet and fleeting-growing, glowing richer in memory's eye-and it's only been about nine hours since I blew a last kiss into the closing train car door at my beloved Shoestrings, Le Grand (get the hell back to New York!) Magistery, Stephen Wood and Chris (it's my birthday, but I'm not telling anyone) Jigsaw. Steeled myself up to face a world full of people who'd never been made to shiver by the Field Mice, transferred to the Brooklyn bound L train and rode home to sit crosslegged and dreaming...remembering...

Warmed by the smiles and hugs of a million old friends (and I see half of you all the damned time!)...the perfect shine of a billion new faces...a trillion new crushes, too.....

You should have been there-oh wait-half of you were!

The people, the people, the was all about you. Now I know a million warm hearts are beating out there, sometimes to the same songs and that feels......unspeakably lovely. I'm going to have to do a separate post about everyone I met (don't worry if I don't mention you'll get yours later...and trust me-it'll feel nice...I'm in love with the world right now and I don't care who knows it). Thoughts for this little slice of time turn to some of the new faces I've cut out and pasted next to the words I've seen on my screen...darling bubbly J.J., lovely River, warm Stephen Wood (possibly the only person to rival me in my Brian fandom), Roy (I'd heard the rumors and they're all true-you're perfectly amazing! about that tape...), William Explodee (not sure how I expected you to be...honestly, you post strange things, my dear...but you turned out to be such a rare treat!), THAT'S who you are-I see you at every damn show, you know!, head banging SkippyUSA, and that enigmatic Mr. Fishbeck-(Jina Racecar and I were talking about starting up a new indiepop crush-list...mine starts here...), wish I'd gotten to talk more to Jim Curran and Mr. CTrips...a million more of you to mention, after I get some decent sleep, though.

Lest auld acquaintances be forgot...even the ones I talk to every day in my rambling phone calls, bored at was honestly a pleasure to see you there.

Oh...and some bands played......

This'll need additional postings-but here's for starters...

Shoestrings, Shoestrings, Shoestrings...they make my blood sing and give me shivers which shock up from somewhere deep beneath my skin and warm me from the inside out. My goodness...they were brilliant. I managed to gasp out to William@popstar.etc... who was I believe, as drop-jawed and thickly stunned by the georgeousness as I was that I love them for all the same reasons that I love the Field Mice and Brian. Blow them a kiss and wish them well...they're headed for the stars for sure.

Gumption-what a Treat!!!! Like a train driving through a birthday cake. Big, thick slices of perfect pop. My socks were knocked clear across the room...ended up having sort them out from the heap that had built up there. Damn, boys...I'm impressed!

Racecar...made me forget completely that it is NOT really a good idea to bop about in vinyl trousers in a room already steaming with the heat of over two hundred rabid pop fans. CHARISMA, kiddies...Brian Gray, resplendent in silken pajamas, Jina being exqusitely Jina-one of the boldest most infectiously, captivatingly darling stage presences I've ever encountered. "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand"...I'm still giggling madly to myself every time I think of that...

Oh those sexy Push Kings...listen to our sweet and sage Ms. Towers on this one (wanna expand on this, Jen?). "No more numbers ones", guys? Fat chance of that. They're on a bullet train to PopStarLand, everyone-buy your ticket NOW. Matt asked me to say when I introduced them (and in my haziness, I forgot...forgive me...the lights, the low blood sugar...) "This ain't no bubblegum and rainbows-this is ROCK AND ROLL!!!". Damn, can those lads play a popsong! Striking, tight and perfect songs played loud and lovely-my maiden voyage with the Push Kings' magic, and I need more!!!! (and Grandma was very impressed as well!).

And Holiday...oh my...I can barely write about this, but it deserves, no, demands to be talked about. Their music has brought so much to my life...self-titled album got me through the long, frustrating, lonely nights in my studio when I was finishing up my thesis last year, and when I moved to New York this past summer I quickly learned that Holiday shows (and hell, their parties) ranked right up there with fresh bagels, good drag queens and stunning skyline views in terms of the treats this city has to offer. Absolute sweethearts, fantastic to look at, and some of the best damned Pop music I've ever heard in my entire life. And last night...last night was the end of an era. I almost lost it on stage last front of the world of you when I was mentioning who was coming up next...started to choke up a bit...but no one seemed to mind all that much-you were all there with me. And the show they gave us...I've never seen a finer one. Wrapped up Holiday in a gorgeous box with a perfect bow and gave us a present of absolutely the best set of Pop songs I've ever seen. Finally heard Fifteen Dollars live. I never in my life thought that could possibly happen. All the hits...each more smashing and effervescent than the next...then... my last time turning my head over to Mr. D'Arcy screaming all those words to each other, my last time dancing till I thought I thought my neck would snap to She Never, my last time screaming out (always in vain) for "Vacation"...then, the last Everything You Say. There were tears, my friends, that's all I'll say. There was the roof of the Apple headquarters. There was Sarah 100. There was Holiday at Popfest '97. Thank you endlessly, boys. You will be deeply missed.

And that was just one night of it.

poplife, everybody needs a thrill,

Kat (Mike)

It's morning in Hoboken. The Best Wishes and Mark Powell are still asleep in our living room, but the sound of our landlord's brother-in-law shoveling the snow outside my window is keeping me from joining them in slumber. Oh yes, it snowed, as usual for January popfests. This is going to be very short -- like Kat, I'll try to post a longer review on Sunday or thereabouts -- but I just wanted to mention how great the aforementioned Wishes were (half old Shoebox Full of Love songs, half excellent new songs), as well as Coloring Book (AMAZING cover of the Cyclones' "You're So Cool," complete with the Cyclones' old drummer! And Jen has become quite kickass herself on the skins). Watoo2 were great, too, although I have to say I preferred the songs without the backing tapes...

Quite a fun evening, kind of a low-key precursor to what's sure to be a crowded night tonight. And it was nice finally meeting people I only know through their e-mail names (hi River) and seeing people I haven't seen in awhile (hi Dave K, Matt J, etc.)...

Mike (Jill Bliss)

thank you to everyone who made this year's popfest the best ever: fellow organizers, brian and fez, fellow listies and other attendees... and of course the bands! twenty four bands, two weekends and two coasts and too many memorable things to mention!

i sit on my bed the morning after surrounded by pushkings' equipment, shoestrings' guitar and chris jigsaw's merchandise and am reminded why we decided to organize this event in the first place: so as many of us as possible could get together and have fun! i made alot of new friends and had a fantastic time. hope everyone else did too!

a special thank you to josh, calvin, andrew and matt for sharing their last performance with all of us and for such a memorable finale to an extraodinary event. as holiday rocked out, there were 256 people dancing like there was no tomorrow in a club that legally held 118 and can't allow dancing (its a NY thing!). there was a whole lotta love, hugs and tears onstage and off after the grand finale...

thanks everyone!!! going back to bed now...

xoxo jill

Kat (River)

Hey Gang! River from Philadelphia here.

It was such a treat to see everyone (although not actually shake hands with you all -- just too many and that basement so dark) on Friday night. I had all good intentions of making it back Saturday, to spend more time getting to know you swell cyber penpals, to see the already-infamous-even- before-it-happened Holiday Send Off, and Shoestrings. Had very little sleep that night owing to the antics of Benjamin Xavier, Kyle and Laurie, and those darned good mashed potatoes at Stingy Loulou's. The snowy winter melee taking place outside brought happy shivers to me timbers at that wee hour o' the morn'.

I had a weird dream that night, but couldn't shake out its message. Went to the Bossanova Brunch on Union Square w/my compadres --- the simpatico brazilian rhythms and strawberry-glazed cinnamon french toast soothed my disposition for the next couple of hours. Hit Other Music and the Tower Dug-Out [no one told me they'd re-issued Vini Reilly!] and then nipped uptown to see the Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Dior exhibits at the MET.

Then it hit me. My dream was about my kitty, Zoe. And I had to leave right away to see her. I'm not really superstitious, but then I don't get these strong kinds of feelings often either. Well, not to bore you with all this, but she was okay. Threw up her dinner, but that's par for the course when I'm away. I wish I had been able to stay in New York a little longer, but, hopefully, there will be more pop fests or just little get togethers in the months to come.

A special thanks to Kat for introducing me to Keith, Jen, Mike A., et al. Wish I could have rapped with her more. And to Maura for coordinating things with such finesse. Hi to Pacale and Michael Korchia too - I was hoping to practice my francais un peu avec vous!

Au revoir mes enfants terribles,


i am sure what i am going to say won't be nearly as eloquent is testcards wonderful post..... was great seeing you all...feeling so many emotions in such a short time. wonderful music...and people...and...well...i think jj was the only one that caught me crying...oh well... shoestrings completely blew me away....having never seen them play live before. holiday...what can i say...words just dont do it. lets not wait till the next popfest to see each other... kat, you're great....sorry about unloading my drunken tales of woe on ya. irene...where were you?

see everyone soon...i hope




Ooh, you're a Holiday, such a Holiday... Jesus. Several small bombs going off backwards, one for each song I'll never hear again. No more ten seconds of a song you're about to start screaming along to and they grind to a halt because someone's playing the wrong one. No more Soft Batch, no more Ace Tone, no more Prostitutes in Town. And Josh had just gotten around to braving those crazy horse solos, paint-by-stumblers. Everybody say a special prayer (you can make it up yourself, sure) because one of those as-yet-unrecorded Holiday songs is sweeter than swimming in the dark. No more Calvin's head? No more Andrew reading the ceiling and making us wonder what's so funny? No more Matt Snow climbing drunkenly into bed with me and calling me Tracy? Come on. I saw a waiter walk by with one of those Fez specialty sandcastles on a plate everyone seemed to be getting, and she was crying too. And you were all thinking "I'm breaking the law..." as you danced. Young Soul Rebels, found. Holiday. The world's not beautiful, but you were. Are. Is. Am. Be.

I'm safe, usually. I like a nice nap and coffee soda and Gumption playing "Hate Paper Doll." Kat asked me what my "moment" was, and that was it. I was over by the bar, just by myself. And in my head I was flying around the world backwards at the speed of light with the club in one hand and a gimlet in the other. It's gonna seem pretty odd someday when the Pushkings' grandchildren see pictures in a dusty family photo album of Jen and Sarah Towers next to one of those disco poles singing "Number Ones." And where's Maura's trophy with two women playing soccer, I ask you? Stress Queen Makes Teen Scene. I can only imagine that the next pop-fest will be at Madison Square Garden.

And who else had a stomach full of ants in anticipation of meeting the rest of us Muppets? Maybe for no other reason than that you wanted to keep all your wonderful illusions, your own private chessboard set up with the pawns in the back row? "Oh, I thought you were a boy." Such a roomful of desperate characters. And maybe because you wanted to believe forever that you were fighting alone, a fox in a foxhole. It's a little frightening to think we're actually doing something. Making changes. Entropy. Eggshells.

This wish every time: a quiet place to spend time with all of you, just talking. There's too many of us now for the kind of intimate gathering I wish for. The Party on Saturday night was lovely, but I felt like Jet Li dodging stars trying to be out of everyone's way. If somebody suggested "Twister" we all know it was too late. I wonder if I won. One other small gripe: too much time between. Let's make it semi-annual. Oh, hell. Let's all move in together.

TESTCARD (teary eyed.)

Sara Marcus

you guys,

this is my first post to the list, tho i've been lurking since before xmas. i just needed to post about the fest, adding my fuel to the furnace or whatever(arg)

yes lots of the music at the popfest was great listening, and i'm not a fanzine writer or even a diehard indiepop fan so i'll stop there, but what i took away from the weekend and what continues to amaze me is the open kindness of so many of the people i met this weekend. it took my breath away, the honesty and lack of walls i felt from so many i had just become acquainted with or had heard about for months. even more than the music, the attitudes of these people is keeping me sane now as i re-enter the workweek. thank you so much for reminding me that aloofness isn't an ideal, that detatchedness isn't a goal, that niceness is the coolest cool of all.

love, sara (i was hanging out w/ steve burt, i have short brown hair & glasses, for those of you who met me.)

Mike Appelstein

I meant to post a band-by-band summary of the popfest, but it just wasn't that kind of experience. Everything kind of came in flashes, you know? And I'm still exhausted and not up to writing summaries of all 12 bands. So I'll just share with you some of my favorite or most notable moments. In no particular order:

* The Best Wishes, aka The Artists Formerly Known as Shoebox Full of Love. Of all the bands that played on Friday, I was especially glad they got ap appear, because Catherine and Josh have been making shimmery pop songs in their bedrooms and dorm rooms for a few years now and releasing them on poorly-distributed cassette and 7" releases. Along with the Receptionists, Vehicle Flips, Kitty Craft, the Moonlings and the like, the Best Wishes epitomize the best by-product of the lo-fi revolution -- private, melodic, quietly winning songs that come across almost as musical journal entries. At Fez on Friday night, Catherine and Josh played about half old Shoebox Full of Love material ("Can't Wait for Summer," "Luckiest Love," "Boy Of My Dreams," etc.), and maybe half new songs that were just slightly edgier. What I hadn't noticed up until Friday was just how distinctive Josh's drumming is. He is like a college-aged Dave Weckerman and Stan Demeski, except he does it all himself with just a floor tom, snare and cymbal. They were model houseguests, and our post-show dinner at Kiev was fun, too. Some friendly advice to you all: stick to the obvious dishes when you go to Kiev. Do NOT order stuffed cabbage. Just trust me. Don't.

* The Silly Pillows: like the Best Wishes, they've spent most of their "career" being reclusive, but these last couple of years have seen Jonathan Caws-Elwitt and friends moving tentatively toward a more conventional approach, with albums recorded in studios and a full band ready for gigging. The live Silly Pillows are the absolute antithesis of indie fashion: Jonathan is a short, skinny guy in a funny hat jumping around nervously, his brother Sam looks like J Mascis (I developed a crush on his guitar), and their bandmates are about as nondescript as you can get. Which makes me love 'em all the more. Jonathan had a cold that kept him from hitting some of the high notes, and he didn't seem to be jumping around QUiTE as much as last time, but what a treat to hear songs like "Lacing Up My Sneakers" and "Lukewarm Weather" live. (And they're coming back in March, Jonathan says.)

* Coloring Book. Personal message to Jen and Jon: If you don't make good on that promise to play more than once every year and a half, we are going to hijack you from Bayside and take care of the matter ourselves. Five songs, Jen playing a full drumkit instead of the one snare (and really pounding them during "Walking Distance"), Jon revelling in echoey, spirally Felt-like guitar effects, and a sparkly cover of "You're So Cool" by the Cyclones (a now-almost-completely forgotten NYC band from the early-80s; their lead singer Donna is now in Cowboy & Spingirl) complete with the original drummer...great as usual.

* Racecar: always a blast live, although their records don't do them justice.

* OK, I'll admit it: winning the "Best Fanzine Award" for CIF. I had seen the poll results on Thursday night and was already shocked. What I didn't know was that Peter Hahndorf and Brian Gray had taken a bowling trophy and written "Best Fanzine 1996: CIF" on it, and were planning to present it to me onstage. I was so flustered that all I could do was mutter "thankyou" into the microphone and race back to my seat as soon as possible, my face absolutely red. I'm not always so shy (you'll back me up on this, Andy D.?), but I felt completely mortified in this case. Holiday and the Push Kings handled their honors with far more grace and composure, but then they get up on stages all the time. Uh, thanks to whomever voted for CIF in the poll; I'm so used to no one really paying attention that I was absolutely surprised and flattered! (Now to get the new issue finished before NEXT January...)

* Holiday. I think I speak for most locals on this list when I say that Holiday were more than a local band; they were, and are, great friends, and they helped provide a warm, friendly space that was missing in this city for years and years. Do any of you New Yorkers remember what it was like here in 1993-1994? Did you feel like there _must_ have been people who felt the same way you did, liked the same music and went to the same shows, but you didn't know how to reach them? I do. It was miserable. But I remember when Andrew Park wrote me from Yale in 1993 to tell me he liked my old zine, _Writer's Block_, and about the band he'd just formed with some of his friends. Then came the singles, which progressively got better and stronger, and then they moved to a dodgy part of Brooklyn and started playing in Manhattan constantly.

Right about the same time, Jen Matson and Stephen Wood told me about the Indiepop List, and I joined up, intrigued. These two events pretty much have set the tone for the last two years of my social life in NYC. It just boggles my mind to think of how much less alone I feel, and how often Holiday were the soundtrack to the things that have happened. Who can forget the night they played at a Washington Square sushi bar during a snowstorm? Or the parties at their Dean Street loft, which always lasted into the early morning and involved wondering if I was going to get mugged on my way out?

It couldn't last forever, and indeed things seemed to change for them the moment they gave up the apartment and tried to be a real touring band. But their set on Saturday night -- surrounded by their friends and the people who put out and produced their records -- was about as bittersweet a farewell as we could have asked for. Each song they played -- "Prostitutes In Town," "Ace Tone," "Satisfaction," "Who's Gonna Find Out" -- felt like a falling star, lasting for a few treasured minutes before fading away for good. They really were the strongest onstage they've been in months and months, no doubt lightened by the decision to end things. Josh almost seemed embarrassed. "These guys are stupid for breaking up!" exclaimed Dave Trumfio, who was sitting in on keyboard and percussion. They played every song they still remembered, and then it was over and it felt like a certain era of New York music history had...if not ended, at least changed a little bit. Tami and I went back to sell T-shirts after the set, and I noticed that the people in the booths next to us were crying.

I'm OK with the end of Holiday -- some of them will go on to other bands, some will go back to school or careers, and obviously we haven't seen the last of them stumbling around drunkenly late at night. But I hope that the community of people around them, and around this list, doesn't fade away, too. This two-day show, and the people who helped put it on -- Jill, Maura, Brian, Heidi, Tami, Kat, Keith and everyone else -- would have been unthinkable a short time ago. Even the 1995 popfest felt different -- the community wasn't quite there yet. As someone who remembers what it was like before, it's hard to put into words how warm and fuzzy this weekend felt to me (although I guess I've just spend several hundred words doing just that).

I'd better get some work done now, Mike


The summaries of the pop fest that i have read so far pretty much say it all. A friend of mine that owns the occasional Small Factory release but nothing more asked me after the gig: who were all those people. I was a bit confused; what people, i responded. Those people, those kids dancing, those boys and girls laughing and crying and singing and jumping about. . .who were they? Why my dear friend, i said back, those are the pop kids. Perfect form this weekend. Congratulations to everyone: audience, bands, organizers, bar-tenders (some pop kids need to learn to tip i am sorry to say), artists, poets, future presidents, and unannounced guest vocalists. Simply Smashing. yours, nate K (Tina Henry)

popfest hello there-

i traveled from d.c to see the second night of the popfest, and have come home feeling slightly depressed. sure, it was great to hang out with heidi & brian powertoot, meet peter green in person and see the push kings for the first time, but it all just made me realize that what I have been experienceing at shows in d.c. is a far cry from the pop community that seems to be thriving in new york.

mike ciflux's popfest post only made it seem more real. he talks about feeling alone in new york a few years ago, before Holiday came along. d.c. seems even lonelier.

anyway, i'm probably being melodramatic. I guess I'll find out how many d.c. popsters there are on saturday when the black cat's bill includes the heartworms, racecar and push kings.

i'll be the round girl, with one thin boy and one curly-haired boy, wearing hush puppies and singing along.

- tina

Jim Curran

How to start?... I'm back home in Chicago, I had an incredible time at popfest, I met a lot of great people, I felt lots of heavy, powerful emotions, and I took a lot of notes... I'm struck, as I read many many popfest posts, by how many people were there that I _didn't_ meet... Peter Double Agent, William Explodee, Le Grand Matt Jacobson, and there are many more... and if watching the end of Holiday didn't tear me up enough I have to live with those regrets too. Maybe I felt it would go on for so long and it was actually over so didn't seem fast but when you sit still and watch bands for six hours at a stretch and buy things and chat and drink and feel overwhelmed and leave at the end of the night, whisked off by a NY taxi because you couldn't bear to watch Holiday unravel anymore... It would be nice to meet again for a couple of days of pop parties and just spin records and maybe then we'd get a chance to have some protracted conversations without feeling like we'd be missing the bands... Next time I come to NY I know where you live and I will call. And my notes will not go to waste... I am going to write a detailed, proper account of the fest in the next week and it might appear in a future YCDW. Until then, deeply affected, and thrilled to have been there and to have even so much as exchanged pleasantries with Kat, Stephen Wood, Testcard, JJ, Brian Mick McMick, Skippy, Maura, Mike Appelstein, Heidi, Jill, Peter Hahndorf, Brian Gray, Michael & Pascale Korchia (Watoo Watoo), and others maybe I'm not thinking of right now, this is all so real, Jim

Mick McMick

Hiya, Well, so many people already said so much, so I'll try to keep comments to a minimum. Mainly wanted to say thanks to the organizers. Don't get many great pop acts around here, and it's not often that enough great bands play in one weekend that I'd be willing to go to New York. Thanks a whole bunch to Skippy for letting me crash in the Gang of Four apartment, and driving most of the way back. Thanks to Riotboy for showing me all the neat stuff in New York. Thanks to Jenny for providing me a ride. Um, hi all the nice people I met. I don't want to thank you individually 'cuz I'd feel in some way that I was trying to brag or something silly like that, but hi everyone, anyway. As far as bands go, to everyone who told me I'd like the Push Kings better than the track off of Pop Am. Style, you were very correct. Also, I really enjoyed Jumprope, Coloring Book, Heartworms, Shoestrings, Racecar, and of course Holiday. I'm so glad that they did play "Everything You Say," I must have yelled for it 5 times. Dancing around Riotboy, Pete Hahndorf & Testcard will be something that I never forget. Anyway, thanks to whoever threw the post-party on saturday night, it was great meeting everyone in a place where I wasn't worried about missing Shoestrings' set. Um, guess that's it. Until Boston, Texas, or Chicago...

Your Personal Popfest Pal,

m i c k

jefferson philip gramm

hey guys, it was great to see you all at the popfest. i won't torture those of you who didn't go with stories about how it was the most incredible two days in the world but, well, what the hell, it was the most fun i have had in a really long time. it was great to see everyone again and in the same place, and i hope it can happen again soon. jeff

Michael Baehr

Some obligatory thoughts on the popfest:

It was very interesting to see this on-line community in the flesh. I observed a bunch of adults acting like children acting like adults. I mean, listen to the band names: Jumprope. Silly Pillows. Racecar. Shoestrings. Coloring Book. (No Crayon.) Even Holiday and Best Wishes point toward a fantasy of perfect niceness.

Nice nice nice. It was nice, though for me not the religious experience it seems to have been for others. But then I'm not really friends with most of the list's celebrities. Listen to all the name-dropping you're doing, people! Some of us just went for the music and to see a couple of old friends. I guess I've been to enough shows not to get overly excited about them anymore...I had a great time and it went really smoothly and the bands were mostly good but I don't think it was perfect or sublime.

I guess the main thing is my problem with much twee/pop music, which is that there's not enough good old-fashioned adult psychological/sexual angst. "You went away and now I'm blue" doesn't count. For me the musical highlights of the weekend were Coloring Book's dark, swirling set (evocative of East River Pipe) and the always-brilliant Nord Express. Even Holiday's songs have a realistic, adult element as well. I love them and their farewell was genuinely moving. My first band played our first-ever show with them and they were super-nice, too. But with bands like the Shoestrings and the Best Wishes, while I give them total props and respect for what they do, I just wonder what planet they're from.

I just can't get on the Push Kings bandwagon, either. Granted they write some darn catchy tunes, but they're just too "party party" for me with their milky perfect skin and teeth and their rich boy rockstar swagger. I liked them more when they used to sound exactly like Pavement...even then I knew, though, with the picture of them in a convertible and the (made up?) quote from Malkmus on the record sleeve.

I'm not trying to be a party pooper...I really did have a really great time! But I think somebody's got to pull this discussion back to earth.

Getting off my soapbox, Mike

David L Knapik

Hi all, Just wanted to say that I had a great time at the NYC popfest. Thanks to all the organizers! Highlights:

- riding on a bus for 18 hours to NYC with Skippy the Geek :) - the guy on the bus that kept rubbing his newspaper on his head - the bus depot in Cleveland where Skippy and I hung out at 5 am - the Best Wishes set on Friday night - the Silly Pillows who made me quite happy - Challah French Toast with fresh blueberries at the Kiev with my pop pals - back me up on this Steve B! - the Saturday night party after the popfest and eating falafel while pleasantly tipsy - listening to Skippy and Triple Mick play that song-title game for HOURS!!!! aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrhhhhhh! - buying the "Int'l Pop" 7" from Pete H. w/ Red Sleeping Beauty and the Sugargliders and more: get it fast, for it rules. - seeing old friends and meeting new ones! - obliging Jill and Maura by doing the macarena during the Push Kings set (sorry for not bringing the silver pants - I'll bring them to the next popfest) - feeling happy to be where I was and at the same time quite sad to see a rad band go as I listened to the final notes of "Everything You Say" by Holiday on Saturday night.

enough self-indulgence... back to work...

thanks again to the NYC pop posse for a fine fine job. I'm always amazed how this list is so cohesive and manages to bring a bunch of quasi-strangers together for a big bash!

love, dave

Sparky Dawntreader

> - the Saturday night party after the popfest and eating falafel > while pleasantly tipsy

not to be nasty or anything - really, take this tongue in cheek! - but would someone like to oblige those of us who weren't cool enough to know about it as to what this mysterious saturday night party was?

i guess i'm with those few folks who've spoken up about not having a religious experience..i mean, it was fun and all, but...i don't know. it probably does have a lot to do with not being one of the kids who knows everybody else. but to those of you i know, and the few of you i met, it was good to see you. :) the rest of y'all...maybe next time.

musically speaking, i think my commentary can be summed up about like this: go racecar! i love bands that are so obviously having fun without trying to look cool. there's little more charming than self-conscious dancing, somehow. i liked the shoestrings, but in that setting couldn't really pay attention and hence got chastised for talking too loud - if that guy is on the list, sorry, but you could have at least asked nicely. um...yeah. i'd never heard of gumption before, but they won me over within the first couple songs. and one of them actually jumped up and down! imagine that!

as for holiday, i'd never been to a band's last show before and i found myself sadder than i expected to be. skippy, your commentary and guest backing vocal made the overall effect even better. :) unlike most of you (it seems) i don't know those holiday kids - though sometimes they say, "hi, you're that nyu person, right?" when they see me - but i hope they keep playing in other bands or whatnot. all that charm has to have an outlet somewhere.

ok, enough, i have work to do.... Molly


well it might have taken me a little bit longer than most to articulate my personal take on the popfest at fez this past weekend, but i no longer feel dumb throwing my two cents in so here goes. i preferred friday. when the heartworms took the stage i was striken with paralysis the whole performance through, silently gazing on in heartfelt happiness. i didn't expect to see anything there that i would truly fall for, i went only asking that i could possibly see somthing that would captivate my attention. i am content if i can sit and watch and listen and feel that there is no pressing desire to do something else. most of the bands on friday enabled such a lofty pre-requisite, but i was stunned by the heartworms, lost in wonder and appreciation of real talent. the only thing that awoke me from my peaseful trance was the thought of possibly not grabbing something of theirs at the sellers booth. and possibly having to cough up too much green stuff for whatever they were offering. after asking i was told it was five songs for $7. i said that seemed rather steep and then was told i could get it for $5 so i paid and it was one of the best buys i've made. if anyone else got their enemies e.p. i'd like to know their feelings on it but they are great and i am sold solid on them. when nord express got up i felt like who ever set that first night up bandwise was a genius and really knew how to save the best for last. what a great sound, just guitar and drums but not a thing missing. i was swept up into waves of floaty swoomy sadness that i cannot describe save to say it touched me in a way that felt pretty funken beautiful.

ready to return to another perfect night at fez i was already disgruntled at having arrived late and missing gumption as well as being smushed into a crowded room where only a night before i was sitting popping candies giving endless enjoyment and novelty to my eager tastebuds, sipping a wuwu ... well now i stood in the back, in no time jumprope (was that their name? --the guy with the hat) took stage and i just couldn't get into the stuff that was no more than reminding me of some talent show that i was a part of back in highschool. this is not meant offensively and i realise this may sound hypocritical to a real fan of theirs, but here i am merely stating the honesty of my personal observations. then racecar i'm sorry to admit chased me out of fez completely. i really tried to listen above the nerve-twitchingly, spine-wrenchingly nothing-short-of piercing vocals that persisted through each song that was performed. i was none too impressed by the dancing and between-song commentary either, though i tried returning for a real attempt at redeeming them especially after a friend had said they were suppossed to be good but ....moving on, the push kings grabbed my attention. took me by surprise in fact!

they played as a true band , each member each instrument coming together in seemingly perfect sinc. i was charmed and felt a sort-of time warp which charmed me even more. i can't say i'd buy anything of theirs only because their music is something i respect and can even appreciate, but is not near to the sound i particularly search for and for these reasons cannot honestly say i adored them.

finally holiday. i was taken in my the emotions of the moment, though like a few other listmembers, knew close to nothing of their prior history. the sound was interesting if not jolting and made me happy but again i was more in awe of the way in which the band connected as a definite sound, some major talent there but not for me in the end.

finally thank you to all who prepared, participated and ultimately made the two nights a grand success in the eyes of anyone who went. i'm sure i speak for most that no matter what each of our particular inclinations and affinities, the event was one hell of a show. i had a great time. thanks.

(dune) a newly recruited pop-lister. I had a great time at the two-day Popfest! Kudos and many thanks to Maura, Jill, Keith, Kat, Mike, and everyone else!! Kat was a fabu hostess and was great about plugging the t-shirts and tapes. No one has thanked Heidi for generously contributing the "Lite-Bright", with its "Pop Fest" configuration providing a perfect kitschy backlight for the Friday night show. Highlights for me included the very surprising Coloring Book (who *must* spend time working up more songs!! I think they only played five songs!), Holiday (of course), racecar, Heartworms, The Silly Pillows, and Gumption (which were a welcome addition to the "core" pop bands that played). The Push Kings left me very cold. Technically, they are very good, but the band doesn't have the warmth or self-deprecation that most pop bands do. Their largely obnoxious fans didn't seem to be "pop" or list people at all. When the Push Kings took the stage, I felt like I was at a bad frat party. Their fans proceeded to stomp and burn their cigarettes into everyone around them. The 'fest was a great two-day experience and it was such a great atmosphere...can't wait for the next one!! The Popfest has come a long ways in two years, no? T.J.

Chris Binkley

hey, just wanted to thank all the organizers for making the NY popfest so much fun. my friends and I had a blast, and while I can't say we actually met anyone (besides some kids joking with us about Racecar's volume on the stairs) I did stare at a lot of chests, though I'm now struggling to continue to match the faces to names! having read a couple of messages now about the non-religiousity of the popfest experience, I'm happy that others have noticed that there seem to be two camps in in indiepop these days, or at least as it seemed to be represented by the popfest and reactions to it. I'd have to say I'd put Jumprope, Racecar, Push Kings, and the Silly Pillows in the slick, but sometimes generic, category of pop, and more amateurish, often slightly darker bands like Heartworms, Nord Express, and Holiday in the other. Of the first group, I could only really enjoy the Push Kings, who, in some kind of alternate universe, where grunge never happened, would be American bandstand teenage heart-throbs. They were just insanely good, tight and punchy in all the right places, absolutely fabulous vocals and all that. Still rockstars though, not poets. I think I'll buy a 7-inch and see them again if possible, but they certainly weren't Holiday, for whom I am now kicking myself for never having seen before. Alex Kemp had told me he thought they were kinda cheesy and overly nostalgic '60's retro-poppers, and I did, and still do, hate the first song I'd ever heard from them, "How do you know?", but man, did Holiday blow me away when I saw them! Got their albums in my collection now, and I was just as tearful as anyone else there at the end. To me they represent the best of what indie-pop can be, and despite Alex's comments, they remind me a lot of small factory, meaningful and catchy at the same time. Frankly I wish I could have just seen them for 4 hours! I think Racecar, Jumprope and the Silly Pillows were trying too heard to act like fun, exciting pop bands, but their music just didn't blow me away enough for me to get down with them. Shake my bootie? Not to you guys, but good show anyway! but then there were my other two favorites, Nord Express and Heartworms ! Why did everyone have to gab all the way through Nord Express' set? Always happens, I guess, but I loved their brand of quiet bedheadish, and unassuming dark pop and I hate when it's spoiled by too much audible conversation. Johnathon's response about happy-pop is relevant here, but I wonder if what we want isn't dark or lite, but a substantial mix of both. I hate goth, for instance. I can't listen to Joy Division anymore, but I like Nord Express and Heartworms (who definitally aren't always heavy as their set proved). I want fullness in a band, and perhaps some of these less bubbly bands just express more of what it means to be alive for me. It's simply that neither overly chirpy pop nor grunge-rock does that. Both of them have terrific albums, and I hope someone else bought them besides me and my friends...Baltimore's got some nice sounds coming out of it these days. I'm just sad that I missed best wishes, coloring book and Gumption because of our attempts to get food other than one of those $10.00 personal pizzas...all said though, great show!

Jen Matson

Whoo, I'm finally on the road to recovery from this nasty flu I started coming down with...oh, about halfway through the Push Kings' set Saturday night. (Dave K, Steve B, et al: don't I wish I was having challah french toast at Kiev Sunday morning instead of sippin' Theraflu!)

Anyway, I had a fun time, if not a religious experience. It was certainly ten times huger than the first Twee--er, Popfest in NYC. A good thing, to see so many people turn out for the event, but also bad, because after seeing the list of attendees posted here, I realized that I missed meeting *a lot* of people! :( Oh well, next popfest....

As for the bands, lessee, briefly...


Watoo Watoo Charming. And I'll agree with whomever said the songs minus backing tape were best. Hey, I don't mind minimalism! The quieter ones let Michael's bass/guitar and Pascale's sweet voice shine through.

Best Wishes I was pleasantly surprised by this band. Just guitar and minimal (but amazing) drums. I wish I could play just two drums and a hi-hat that well...

Coloring Book er, I'll skip the self-critique ;) But it was fun, really.

Jumprope Very, very, very *together* band, tightly crafted pop tunes. Hummable melodies kept heads in the crowd boppin' along throughout their set.

Heartworms Started slow then just got better as they went along. I especially liked the one that sounded like "Norwegian Wood." ;) And if I were a guitarist I would covet Archie's gorgeous rose-colored Epiphone guitar! (Well, I guess I covet it anyway.)

Nord Express Largely instrumental, moody strumming and drumming from this duo, started slow like the Heartworms, but never picked it up enough to engage enough of the audience. I think they would have worked better a little earlier on in the night, cuz the Heartworms were a tough act to follow.


Gumption Arrived at Fez just one minute after Gumption hit the stage (said Jill). I really enjoyed their set, very punchy (you guys didn't have to sorta apologize for being "rock"!) -- the Husker Du cover at the end was just *right*.

Shoestrings Overheard during their set: "Aw, those two are so *sweet*!" Think early Everything But the Girl (spare guitar, male/female vox), but with a more palpable sense of immediacy, fumbling then assured, and always sincere.

Silly Pillows Wow, lots of fun, really loved Silly Pillows. And Jonathan has perfect aim -- he nailed me in the nose with a silly pillow! (But it was worth it, it's very cute!) Very reminiscent of early 80's NY psych-revival stuff like the Mad Violets. The theatricality and energy the band put into the show was refreshing.

Racecar It's almost as much fun to watch the guys going ga-ga over Jina as it is to watch Racecar themselves! The band always looks so *intent* when whipping up that pop noise -- except for Brian, over there on the side who can look like he's lounging in those pajamas without missing a beat, and Jina dancing up a storm.

Push Kings Why oh why has no one on this list ever so much as mentioned the word "mod" ONCE in describing this band? The haircuts, the color-coordinated outfits and guitars (!), the three-minute pop tunes trying so hard to sound throwaway, off-the-cuff. Oh, and they sound like Squeeze. Not necessarily a bad thing. This has nothing to do with the music, but I agree with the other listmember wrote about feeling as if he were in a frat house. After one particularly loud hootin'-and-hollering round of applause, Mike A. turned to me and said, "I thought I left Hoboken."

Holiday I enjoyed Holiday, wish I'd seen them live before. As someone who was one of the non-hysterical folks in the crowd, I can objectively say they put on a damn fine show. That sez it all.

As for the post-popfest, MORE-popfest momentum... I heartily agree that a Boston popfest would be an excellent idea. Boston has great record stores, thrift stores, clubs, restaurants.... I'm making myself homesick.

Jen (Mario Suau)


i'm still kinda recovering from lack of sleep from the popfest. sadly i was travelling on an amtrak train longer than i stayed in new york, but it was all worth it. i just wish i could've been there longer than a day...i also wish i could've seen friday's show. hopefully there'll be a chicago or boston popfest over the summer.

i'm not going to talk about the bands because everyone has already...well, i can't help myself...just a couple: i'd just like to say that i thought the push kings were completely amazing. i think they were the best band i've seen live in a really long time. oh...and i have to say that holiday was really moving. i think it was their best show ever. i'd never seen calvin bang on the drums any harder than he did that night...his high-hat cymbal nearly fell over about 5 times! andrew nearly fell over a couple times too...a few too many drinks i think. after "everything you say" the crowd must have clapped for about 5 minutes...matt snow kept telling us to stop like they didn't deserve it or something, but they did. i noticed a lot of people crying (me included). everytime i hear "everyting you say" now, i get goosebumps because it just reminds me that it was the last song that they ever played together. they'll be missed...

thanks to maura and jonathan for giving me and rose a place to stay and stuff. thanks to all of the organizers and stuff too (kat, jill, keith, brian,...not sure who else, but you know who you are). it was great seeing everyone again and meeting new people too (you know who you are too!). Mario

Michael Korchia


I came back from New york this morning... still jetlagged, & i remember how cold it was last week...

What was great at the popfest is that it lasted 6 hours each night, yet it was never boring... when you didn't like the band, you just could talk to anyone around you: people were really nice. it was the 1st time i went to the US, so we knew noone when we arrived in the Fez (except jill, peter, maura, kat... we met 2 hours before!). So i'm very glad i talked with so many people (don't worry River, you'll practice your french another time), & so sorry because i would have loved to talk with other... But as Jim Curran said brightly, the bad thing is we had some superficial conversation (because we wanted to see the bands too!): we should have all metr on saturday afternoon, to talk tgether...

A few comments...


Watoo Watoo

That was us. some people said they prefered the songs with only guitar & voice (no backing tape). well, i think that 30 mn like that would have really been boring. the bad thing is that our set began a 7h35 pm: too early, some people couldn't see us (it's, i hope, the reason why i haven't seen a lot of emails mentioning us. or you really didn't like?).Anyway, we were really happy to play!

Best Wishes

Some really very good songs, well played, that remind me of the velvet/feelies (the drums) & early heavenly (the songs)... & they were very nice too..

Coloring Book

John (the guitar/singer) played with us during our last song (he d never heard it before, it was a kiund of impro). but i'll be objective: it was really good, some songs maybe too long...


Very good pop songs, well played, well sung. I enjoyed!


> Started slow then just got better as they went along. I especially liked > the one that sounded like "Norwegian Wood." ;)

Said Jen M. I agree! there was a strong beatles influence (i don t criticize!). Very good too, i liked a lot

Nord Express

Too soporific for me. it's not my style, but i guess they re good in that stuff



i love 1977 punk, but new rock/punk bands leave me cold. sorry (because the guy from gumption who is on this mailing list seems really cool!)


Great songs, great voices, very nice people. they can be fantastic if they find a bass player & a drummer for their live performances

Silly Pillows

Pascale loved them. their clothes were awful of course (look at the girl!), but they intended to look that way, didn't they. I really liked & had a lot of fun! it reminds me of lots of 1967 pop bands. (i read jonathan's email to the list, & he really seems intelligent nice)


Noone said Brian was bare feet (& funny too)! i liked their songs (good arrangments!) but maybe the girl does too much (i think you need to move & sing with more sobriety when you re in a pop band. that's being consistent)

Push Kings

when pascale saw them, before they grabbed their instruments, she said: 'they are commercial!', & she liked a bit. I hated, sorry. they could be huge, like meanswear & that kind of britpop bands (note: i love blur!).


Great. I bought their CD the day after the show. i won t say more, no need.

well, that was a great moment, i hope i'll see all the people I met (& the ones i didn t meet) again.

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