Apparently there’s going to be a surfing competition in Long Beach? That’s pretty cool, but it’s nothing compared to the insane slate of musical acts scheduled to perform alongside the longboarders. The last time such a wealth of bands was scheduled to play Long Island, the year was 2003, the festival was called Field Day, the bands were Radiohead, Blur and the Beastie Boys, and the show was…canceled. But we are assured beyond a shadow of a doubt this one will not meet the same fate. Since there are nearly three dozen acts lined up to play between Sept. 3 and Sept. 10 (including a much talked-about “special surprise performance” on Mon., Sept. 5), we assume you’re as overwhelmed as we are, and thus, we’ve handpicked an even 10 for you to set your clocks and calendars around, and if you happen to see some surfing while you’re in the neighborhood, well…bonus!
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Mon., Sept. 5 (Labor Day)
This San Francisco psychedelic garage band arrived in the first wave of what was sometimes called the “raw rock” movement—this is back in 2001, when The Strokes and White Stripes were targets of the media’s novelty fetish, not retired warhorses played on classic-rock radio. And while BRMC never achieved the level of success enjoyed by their peers (well, they achieved the level of success enjoyed by The Mooney Suzuki, but that’s not saying much), they did turn out a handful of magnificent songs and a couple solid LPS—notably their 2001 self-titled debut, which is a front-to-back beast: a gloomy and spaced-out stunner that recalled early (The) Verve and Jesus & Mary Chain, and actually predated the neo-shoegaze movement by a few years.
Girl Talk – Sat., Sept. 3
If you see only one act during all of the Quiksliver Pro…well, you’ll be missing out. But if you do, for God’s sake, make sure it’s Girl Talk, aka Pittsburgh DJ Gregg Gillis. The man who elevated the mashup from an Internet curiosity to a viable art form, Gillis’ compositions are nothing short of breathtaking—he manages to blend the best bits of the last four decades of the entire pop canon into dancefloor-fillers capable of sweeping away crowds of thousands, as well as small hordes of music critics just jealous of Gillis’ record collection and encyclopedic knowledge.
The Ettes – Sun., Sept. 4
Nashville-via-Los Angeles trio The Ettes deal in a brand of sexy, beat-heavy garage pop that recalls The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills, although not as eccentric as the former or as grim as the latter. Still, there’s something uniquely seductive to be found in band’s simple fuzzed-out rock, which kind of spans decades without feeling bound to any era.
The Flaming Lips – Fri., Sept. 9
Surely the biggest band to play the Quiksilver Pro (unless the “surprise guest” is in fact the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as some have speculated), the Flaming Lips have been doing this for three decades and still feel as fresh and exciting today as they did in 1990. Well maybe not quite as fresh and exciting—back then, not nearly as many bands were making such expansive and insane drug music—but not too many acts have grown so courageously or organically as the Lips, so that what they’re doing today sounds nothing like what they were doing at the beginning of their amazing career, yet it’s just as experimental and visionary, still making trends, not following them.
Interpol – Sun., Sept. 4
What goes better with a day at the beach than three guys in black suits singing about the grimy underbelly of the East Village hipster scene? All right, so the inclusion of Interpol here seems a bit counterintuitive, but there’s no bad time or place to hear the classic Interpol songs, i.e., anything from the band’s 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, and two-thirds of its follow-up, 2004’s Antics. Besides, there’s something kind of surf-y about “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down,” isn’t there? No?
Neon Indian – Fri., Sept. 9
Unlike, say, Interpol, Texas chillwave band Neon Indian make music that is actually perfect for sun and sand. In fact, the band’s wonderfully relaxing and spaced-out 2010 debut, Psychic Chasms, includes such songs as “Deadbeat Summer” and “Terminally Chill.” It’s not exactly surf music the way Dick Dale or Blink-182 made surf music—in that, if you were to score a surf movie to this music, you would likely have to play the footage in slow motion to sync up with the songs—but it’s as lazy and content as one of those catatonic-couple-on-the-beach-drinking-Corona ads. Only, you know, cool and fun, not a rage-inducing cliché of what “cool” and “fun” look like to an advertising agency.
Portugal. The Man – Sun., Sept. 4
The first track on In the Mountain in the Cloud, the 2011 LP from Portugal. The Man (yes, as people who write and edit for a living, we abhor that inane use of punctuation), is called “So American.” As it happens, the band, now based out of Portland, Oregon, hails from Wasilla, Alaska, also home to Sarah Palin! Any connection? Probably not, as Portugal’s lovely and dreamy Beatlesque psychedelia doesn’t feel especially political (although lyrics like “Man oh man, you think you’re so American” make us wonder…).
Q-Tip – Fri., Sept. 9
In a recent interview, Roots drummer ?uestlove (and yes, again, as people who write and edit for a living, we abhor that inane use of punctuation) said that Q-Tip “was the only artist that had one foot in the Soulquarian underground and one foot in the champagne rap” of the mid ’90s. Weird then (or maybe not?) that Tip hasn’t really been much of a chart presence since his days with A Tribe Called Quest. Of course, he’s still one of the greatest MC’s of all time and one of architects of hip-hop as we know it, and if his solo stuff hasn’t reached the level of The Low End Theory, well, what else has?
Taking Back Sunday – Sat., Sept. 10
You couldn’t really have a lineup like this on Long Island without including at least one of the bands that put Long Island music on the map, could you? And there aren’t too many who fit the bill better than Taking Back Sunday. (Presumably Billy Joel wasn’t inclined to get Attila back together?) The TBS story is pretty well known by now, but the important part is the conclusion: After years of bitterness and bad blood, the five guys who made the best TBS album (that is, their 2002 debut, Tell All Your Friends) are finally back together, touring behind a triumphant self-titled reunion album, and playing in a city (yes, Long Beach) several of those gents have called home.
Wavves – Fri., Sept. 9
Is there any more appropriate act for this event? Wavves is the San Diego surf-punk band led by Nathan Williams (aka the very lucky boyfriend of Best Coast frontwoman Bethany Cosentino), whose last album, 2010’s King of the Beach, is something of a summer classic: a brash, blazing, distorted blast of sun-stroked indie rock. So let’s do a rundown: Dude is from San Diego, plays surf punk, dates the girl from Best Coast, has an album called King of the Beach, and calls himself Wavves. Yeah, that works. In fact, that’s pretty close to perfect.