Over the years, NYC Popfest has become one of the premiere festivals to focus on a genre of music that can trace its roots back to Britain in the early 80’s. Born on labels like Sarah Records, Creation Records, Postcard Records, and NME’s now famous C86 compilation, indie pop covers a wide swath of sounds that range from early jangle pop that came out of those labels, to the shoegaze, power pop, twee, and indie rock that followed.
For 2015, its ninth year running, the world-renowned festival continued the tradition of bringing up-and-coming bands (including Baltimore’s own Expert Alterations and Wildhoney, Roanoke’s Eternal Summers, and NYC’s Beverly); bands from all over the world who would likely never get the opportunity to play in the US otherwise (including Spain’s Jessica and the Fletchers, The Just Joans from Scotland, and the band who travelled the farthest to play this year, Wallflower from Japan); and classic bands reunited (including Michigan’s Veronica Lake, playing their first show together in 17 years, and a return from indefinite hiatus of California’s #Poundsign#). Taking place over four days from Thursday, May 28th to Sunday May 31st, the festival brought a total of 29 bands to five separate shows on Thursday night (The Cake Shop in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan), and to Brooklyn on Friday night (Cameo), Saturday afternoon (Baby’s All Right), Saturday night (The Knitting Factory), and Sunday (Littlefield).
The highlights of the festival were, of course, the headliners, which included two of the biggest current reunions in the indie pop world. Early Creation Records band The Loft, one of the formative bands of the Britpop era that had originally split in 1984, reunited several years ago and on Friday night brought their still-frenetic sound to the stage of Cameo in Brooklyn for their first US show since reforming. Late-80s/early-90s indie rockers The Darling Buds headlined on Saturday at the Knitting Factory, with singer Andrea Lewis coming onto the stage with her arms loaded down with flowers which she proceeded to throw into the audience over the course of the first several songs. On Sunday, Sweden’s Club 8 played their first US show in 16 years.
While the festival is a small one (the largest venue, Littlefield, has a capacity of 400; the smallest, The Cake Shop, a capacity of 125) and very specialized in its musical focus, it draws a dedicated crowd who returns yearly for their indie pop fix. And it’s easy to see why – you may not know all (or even many) of the bands on any given year’s lineup going in, but if you’re an indie pop fan it’s almost certain that you’ll come out with a list of new favorite bands.
All photos by Matt Condon. Click to embiggen.