Siren Music Festival at Coney Island

The day was long and hot, which we could ascertain from the sunburned and exhausted Indie kids lying around in heaps all over Coney Island. Pmel and I got to the Siren Music Festival at about 5pm, just missing We Are The Scientists, but in time for M.I.A.

Two stages were constructed with the Cyclone rollercoaster, and the rest of the amusement park, smack in between. The bands alternated between the two stages, so theoretically, no one had to miss a thing. In reality, thousands of people showed up, and although we were there with 20 minutes to spare before M.I.A. came on stage we were so far away that all we got were occasional glimpses of tiny characters jumping around on stage while nothing but bass and occasional whimper could reach us from the speakers.

MIA Crowd

That’s M.I.A. somewhere off in the distance

Although it was quite difficult to hear her, a discerning listener could make out some of the catchy tunes from her 2005 album, Arular and some new songs from her forthcoming album Kala. Unfortunately, she did not play “Galang,” which was the song
that earned her recognition in the U.S. Her performance was similar to being at home listening to her CD. Although we expected a more vibrant performance, hard to blame her for the weak show considering the circumstances. I would prefer and recommend to see her at a smaller venue.

Being pushed around while the crowd tried to figure out where to be was not very fun, but then there was little else to do since the not being able to see or hear anything wasn’t very amusing. We finally got shoved into some shade, and although continued moving with the crowd, stuck to those parts less sunny for the rest of the time. While observing different shades of glittery nail polish and all the different faces hardly seen behind huge sunglasses favored by the crowd, I also noticed a girl in a filmy dress and several handbags trying to climb her way up a chain link fence separating the mob and the theme park. What she was aiming for specifically was the roof of an establishment on the other side.

I hooted and howled my appreciation and wasn’t the only one. The girl threw her baggage on the roof and then grabbed on to the barbed wire gracing the tops of the fence and, despite probable skin damage, followed her belongings on the selfsame roof. Some moments after her success a guy attempted the same exercise, and although he managed to flail about and get his pants stuck on the barbed wire failed to follow in her footsteps. Then another female more or less succeeded in scrambling up on the roof. At this point a man obviously perturbed by their success ascended and chased everyone off. On their way down the girls both got their pretty and flowy dresses stuck on the spikes and hung desperately clinging to the sharp edges lest they fall down in rags.

The crowd was much more excited by that spectacle rather than what was happening on stage. We could sometimes hear M.I.A. as she screamed something out while the crowd parted momentarily to let through another string of people abandoning the idea of getting close enough to the show for it to matter. We people-watched and eventually made our way out and onto the other side of the festival where Cursive was slated to play in another half hour or so.

Indie folk at dusk

Indie folk at dusk

The grounds were covered in people and trash, often mixed, stirred and shaken to create a multicolored ensemble of dirt and Indie fashion. The aforementioned huge sunglasses were ubiquitous. Then there were the variously died hair, pierced faces, incredibly tight jeans deconstructed into shreds and paired with ties, top hats, unending flip flops and Converse and, of course, marijuana. In the thickness of the crowd of M.I.A. performance the pot was smoked overtly, but now that the crowd was less cohesive, it was discussed and desired but not otherwise obvious.

Some enterprising folks with great Indie appeal set up tents and sold t-shirts and political propaganda. We played a great game called “Dunk the i-Pod” where an i-Pod was fixed over an aquarium filled with water and we were given other i-Pods to toss and try to dislodge the first one with. We both failed and so received some mix CDs by unknown artists. Much of that was going on.

Before seeing Cursive we killed time by watching a girl be oblivious to a poisonous looking bug climbing towards her hair as her “friends” giggled and failed to warn her. The crowd was a bit different; a bit more aged than the M.I.A. lovers and a bit more mellow which meant no agitated shoving past. Finally the band came out and stunned me with the goodness of the music despite the lead vocalist’s obvious hoarseness.


Unlike MIA, Cursive put on a great show that could be appreciated. The drums and saxophone in every song made you want to get up on stage and dance the night away. An interactive performance with great melodies.

Written with contributions from Pmel.

Article and Images Copyright © 2007 to Eat The Lemons

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