SPECIALTY Brooklyn went nuts for Sammy Yager's Birthdays.
Last year, when I spoke to Sammy Yager a/k/a Birthdays for the Phoenix about FMLY (an international socially-conscious artist collective he is involved with), he said the differences between FMLY fests and his typical Boston shows was "like comparing being at the best bar mitzvah ever with all of your friends to being in a bar by yourself."
It wasn't until after midnight Saturday (June 23) at Brooklyn's Shea Stadium, an underground warehouse venue in Bushwick, that I truly understood what he meant. I'd seen Sammy play this same set many times before in Boston — all glitchy, explosive psych-pop, layers and loops of synth-based beats and funny warped vocals — but never before to a crowd this crazily ecstatic. Yager set up on the floor, surrounded by FMLY kids, who also took over the stage and hunched over his set-up. The crowd screamed along to his lyrics for nearly every song, bounced with every beat. Before his set, handfuls of glitter were passed around and strategically thrown in the air on the first beat of "Howolding Girls."
>> WATCH: Video for "Howolding Girls" by Birthdays
It wasn't only Yager repping Boston in Brooklyn: Allston experimental improv soul-pop dude Cameron Potter, a/k/a Little Spoon, also played one of the sweetest sets of Saturday night, particularly his celebratory extended version of "I Keep Having Dreams that You'll Let Me Come Back Home." The FMLY crowd wouldn't let this song end, screaming the chorus back at him repeatedly after he'd stopped.
Jamaica Plain's Mutual Benefit (who I unfortunately missed) played the fest too, and Allston booking collective Dreamhouse (disclaimer: I'm part of it) was a co-organizer, helping with the workshops ("Touring Vegan," "House Shows as Direct Action," etc.) on Saturday. After Brooklyn, the energy of FMLY Fest hit the road and appropriately headed straight to an Allston basement. The Tuesday night mini-fest — featuring eight staples of the collective, including Brooklyn's Emily Reo, recent Phoenix 50 Bands 50 States Wisconsin pick Yohuna, and the aforementioned Birthdays and Little Spoon — was the perfect FMLY Fest after-party; the show went late and spirits ran high. What started in Brooklyn felt right at home in Boston.
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