For their inaugural year, the Emerging Music Festival had a full house, or in this case, a full Bryant Park. Taking place right in the heart of Manhattan, organizers brought together rising talent to play in the busiest part of the city. The premise for the festival is simple: showcase good music that is based out of the NYC area.

Shoegazing locals, Lazyeyes, had just returned from a two-week long tour, with a sold-out hometown gig at Rough Trade NYC earlier this month.  Usually bands with the wall of sound” identity don’t translate so well in large open spaces, but surprisingly, the wide open venue didn’t water down their tone. While they were the least accessible sounding band on the bill, they impressed with their hyper noise rock, and coaxed a few chuckles their stand-up (or sit-down according to drummer) comedic stage banter. The majority of their set consisted of their latest EP New Year, showcasing songs like Darling Dear,” New Year,” and Islip,” and diving into songs from their lush debut EP. The band said that this would be their last show for a while, as they’d be heading into the studio to record new material.

Mainland, the California-bred Brooklyn-based band, were rightfully chosen as the headliners for the Emerging Music Festival. Only in New York City could you perform on a stage with the Empire State Building to the right, the lights of Times Square to the left, and a lawn filled with fans, tourists, and passer by’s alike - and with the stage set, the quartet created their own rock n’ roll picnic”. With the release of their debut EP Shiner last year, and their most recent single Outcast, Mainland’s set consisted of all new music (except Leave The Lights On”). Each song, one about the subway”, one about romantic obsession”, one about being an outcast”, was dance-inducing, addictive, and swoon-worthy. If there were strangers to the Mainland in Bryant Park that night, they are surely fans now, leaving everyone in eager anticipation of a full-length album sometime in the near future!

Midtown isn’t usually anyone’s favorite place (except tourists who don’t know any better), but Bryant Park’s first Emerging Music Festival definitely made it a whole lot better that day.


By: Jonathan Chin + Nadine Suleiman

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