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Au Revoir Simone

On this Sunday afternoon in New York, right in the middle of summer, our heads were spinning with all of the musical offerings—most notably the free Summer Stage in Central Park (featuring DJ Spooky, Talvin Singh and Prefuse 73), and the McCarren Park Pool (an old, dilapidated municipal swimming pool that’s emptied for the occasion) in the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn. Both were a series of concerts under the oppressive August sun, for the most part free. “For the most part”—these things have a way of adding up.

Today at McCarren, the line-up includes Beirut and Deerhoof. It’s really tempting, but I’ve already promised Rod Sherwood, Au Revoir Simone’s manager, that I’d film them today. They’re in the studio finishing their new album. It’s already hotly anticipated after their first release, Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation, came out at the beginning of 2006, and was well received both by critics and the Brooklyn hipster crowd.

When I get to their studio (just a few blocks away from the park and its pool, like everything in Williamsburg is), I find them all sitting on the floor, repeating some songs. It’s a very light ambiance, a mixture of focused work and childish laughter. Heather, Annie, and Erika are three truly charming young women, very pretty, who seem to smile at every phrase they pronounce–and who make you wonder if they heard you at all, or if their heads were in the clouds.

#23.1 – STAY GOLDEN

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in NY, 2006

After several exchanges of ideas (or of non-ideas; I show up without having anything planned, as always, and that can surprise some musicians), we go into the street, each girl with her synth under her arm. We head toward Bedford Avenue, actually the hippest part of all New York. It’s both a pretty and a hate-able place, and the only part of the city where New Yorkers show themselves to be snobby and rude. But it’s kind of a must-visit neighborhood, and it proves to be a fun setting for “Stay Golden”, the pretty track that closes their album. For a brief second, I was convinced that they were going to play “Through the Backyards…”, a song even more magical than the rest of their discography—but no, they didn’t. What a shame.

Then we drove around aimlessly for an hour, went to sit in the park next to the baseball fields to play a song—which, well, wasn’t great–then came back to Bedford Ave to walk by Soundfix, the music store for the area. All the while, the three girls’ music floated in the background, setting the tone—they really make “music from Brooklyn”, as cliché as it is to say.

#23.2 – NIGHT MAJESTIC

Réal : Vincent Moon

Shot in NY, 2006

Then we decided do a little song leaning against the bar in the back room, the Fix Café, which sometimes welcomes musicians for intimate concerts. “Night Majestic” was the song’s pretty title, which they finished with laughter, as always. It was a little moment with Au Revoir Simone, and it was light, as it should be, free from pretension.

I managed to finish in time to go to McCarren Park Pool. Beirut was a little soft and cluttered because of bad sound mixing, but Deerhoof, in front of 6,000 people–what fury and bombast…! Both Sufjan and Bryce were captivated, and that’s saying something. Bryce–who didn’t move a muscle during the whole show—would say to me later, “That was the best concert I’ve seen in five years.” Maybe next year, Au Revoir Simone should play in the pool? They’d go well with the sun.

Translated by Caitlin Caven