"Can we have reverb? Like, a bunch of it?" asked Real Estate
guitarist Matthew Mondanile
to the Johnny Brenda's sound technician, foreshadowing the evening's sonic wash. While the guys made up for lost time after missing their soundcheck, they endeared themselves to the crowd with adorably polite requests
. Make no mistake: These four Jersey boys didn't hide beneath a total haze of atmospherics either. They cruised through their saltwater-soaked melodies
with remarkable tightness alternating between articulated psychedelic strums and intricate picking. It was challenging to make out the lyrics in singer/guitarist Martin Courtney's understated vocals, though certain turns of phrase floated to the surface from meditations on growing up in the 'burbs ("Suburban dogs are in love with their chains
") to a perhaps metaphoric look at the fruitlessness of beach combing ("What you want is just outside your reach
Real Estate's self-titled debut LP is of the dreamy, just-let-it-play variety the kind of summer music you want permanently in the background
of whatever you're doing, which is probably why the Ridgewood, NJ band's commanding stage presence came as a surprise. Live, their songs demanded full attention, and felt effervescent, even danceable. Plus, it didn't hurt that the guys seemed to be having a great time. Drummer Etienne Duguay
fit the beach-bum part in his sleeveless tank and faded black, neon-striped swim trunks, and would later grab the mic to declare his love for Philly
before exiting the stage. An ever-smiley Mondanile danced in place with his guitar through most of the set, and encouraged the audience to join him during uptempo rocker "Fake Blues
." Highlights included the supremely strummy "Green River
," and instrumental gem, "Atlantic City
About an hour later, local favorite Kurt Vile
posed a similar soundcheck question, but with a little more push. "Is that echo going? Give it to 'em!
" Vile shouted, eliciting enthusiastic shouts in return from the at-capacity crowd. Vile, who recently released a new EP on Matador
, carried himself with a relaxed, confident demeanor, as if playing to a bunch of friends. That may well have been the case; he was on home turf
, after all. Backed by his band The Violators
, Vile cranked up his lo-fi recordings to 11 with bold electric guitar (and feedback galore) and drums so thunderous, unfortunately, they drowned out some of the finer details namely, the harpist. With the help of the band,"Breathin Out
," off 2008's Constant Hitmaker
took on a new, richly fleshed-out lease with acoustic and electric guitar complemented by live drums and maracas. Scattered throughout Vile's set and solo encore were some of his more droning psychedelic-folk tunes, which he sang gently through the wavy brown locks covering much of his face. The set definitely peaked on the chugging "Freak Train
," with Vile delivering brassy vocals leading up to the chorus' cathartic "train, train, train!
" shouts. Won't lie though, it would have been nice to hear some of Kurt's catchiest, most accessible tunes like "Overnight Religion
" and "Freeway
." Guess that just means he'll have to stop through these parts again sometime soon.