Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.
On May 17, the Feelies return to the area for a much-anticipated show at Club Helsinki in Hudson – their first local appearance since their Helsinki gig last spring. But members of the cult-status band did play locally back in January, when they brought a rare “It Came from New Jersey” triple-bill of side guises and projects (previously unseen outside of Hoboken) to Kingston’s stylish BSP Lounge.
Wild Carnation, a somewhat sporadic, 21-year-old band featuring Feelies bassist Brenda Sauter and her husband, guitarist Richard Barnes, opened with a pastoral set of strummy indie-pop ditties about the Brooklyn Dodgers (“Dodger Blue”), getting lost in Germany (“The Road to Bielefeld”) and summer nostalgia (“Let’s Pretend It’s Summer”), with Sauter sounding a touch Moe-Tucker on the vocal lead.
Keyboardist/accordionist John Baumgartner of Feelies-spinoff the Trypes (not playing this eve) joined Feelies guitarist Glenn Mercer, Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, Bongos bassist Rob Norris and Winter Hours guitarist Michael Carlucci as East of Venus, for a mostly sedate set of rustic jangle (aside from a little Mercer-led guitar anarchy) on “Faded Pictures,” a cover of Television’s “Glory” and “Too Long Gone” by Wake Ooloo (yes, another Feelies permutation).
Original Feelies percussionist Dave Weckerman leads Feelies offshoot Yung Wu, with Demeski, Mercer, Sauter, Baumgartner and guitarist Ed Seifert backing the tambourine-shaking frontman. Weckerman dug around in a pink Victoria’s Secret bag at his feet throughout the night, pulling out and displaying vinyl record specimens like a punk rock ethnologist, as the band played a set dominated by covers and songs from their 1987 release, “Shore Leave.”
Weckerman lifted Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera’s “Diamond Head” solo album from the bag before the band played “Big Day” (a song co-written by Brian Eno), and preceded “Kingdom Come” by waving Tom Verlaine’s eponymous solo album.
“Why didn’t they make it in America? Probably because all their songs were about underage girls,” Weckerman opined about ‘60s British rock band the Move before Yung Wu’s take on “Walk Upon the Water.”
The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” got the Yung Wu cover treatment, as did Neil Young’s “Powderfinger” during the encore, but the night’s highlight may have been their version of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” – driven by Weckerman’s suitably mumbly vocals and Mercer’s jittery guitar playing.
There were a lot of Feelies members in the house at BSP Lounge – well, all of them except for guitarist Bill Million, who lives in Florida – but not a single Feelies song was played all night. No matter, we’ve got May 17.