The first year of the new showcase festival The New Colossus kicked off on Thursday night, taking over the lower east side of New York City not unlike CMJ had done for so many years. In fact taking over venues like Pianos, The Delancey (home to The Aussie BBQ during CMJ) and Arlene’s Grocery brought back memories of seeing bands from Australia and around the world there at the annual event, which wrapped up in 2015.
In its inaugural year, the lone Australians to take to the stage were buzz outfit Body Type, with scheduled performer Tia Gostelow having to pull out last minute.
They remarked that this was their first ever show in Manhattan – having made their Brooklyn debut the night before. Though this was nonetheless something of a homecoming for the group; lead vocalist Sophie Mccomish used to live around the area and has a song “Ludlow”, dedicated to Ludlow Street, which is just near the venue they played.
The quartet always impress, and the mid-afternoon showcase set I caught at Arlene’s was no different, with the group sounding tight, showcasing their expansive musical skills and solid songwriting that had me fall in love with them all over again.
Among the other highlights at The New Colossus were Avalanche Party, who gave out vibes that were equal parts Iggy Pop and Slaves – maybe a bit of Birthday Party too – early Nick Cave, that sort of thing. Super punk, melodic and a whole lot of fun. This is a band to watch.
Theodore from Greece were a five piece with impressive instrumentation that sans vocals might have found itself in a realm occupied by acts like Explosions in the Sky; but the vocals transcended it beautifully and were reminiscent of Jonsi at times. I left blown away by their performance.
UK outfit Fatherson, who I caught last year at Breakout West, were another highlight with similarly beautiful vocals, while being more anthemic in nature. Powerful too.
There were quite a few East Coast Canadian bands who popped along on the way to SXSW. Toronto’s Tallies were a favourite, though it was Hamilton, Ontario quartet Ellevator who served out one of my favourite sets of the weekend. With a powerful pop sound reminiscent of CHVRCHES, they were a force to be reckoned with, accentuated by synth and the lead’s strong vocals.
Having to run off to SXSW meant I couldn’t stay for too long at the inaugural event, however the small, well curated showcase event proved to be a well run and wholly enjoyable festival – with some of the city’s best venues on display and a chance to get to see some intimate performances from some truly talented artists. And the afternoon of panels – run across Pianos and Arlene’s Grocery on Thursday – were excellent too, with wonderful insight across a wide range of topics.
For more details about the festival, which was held from 7-10 March, head HERE.