NYC Popfest stages yearly shoegaze revival

A vintage picture of British band The Wolfhounds, who were featured on NME's seminal indie pop mixtape "C86," return for a reunion set at Pop Fest on Sunday.
A vintage picture of British band The Wolfhounds, an ’80s act featured on NME’s seminal indie pop mixtape “C86,” who return for a reunion set at Popfest on Sunday.

In 2013, indie pop is often intermingled with garage rock and synth rock – both in practice and in critics’ usage of the term. NYC Popfest, which begins tomorrow night for the seventh time, highlights indie pop’s ingenuity, independent roots and its legacy with a weekend of shows scattered around rooms in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. The fest brings in a host of bands from the UK, Sweden, Finland and even New Zealand.

Veteran indie pop legends The Monochrome Set (UK), The Wolfhounds (UK), Close Lobsters (UK) and The Bats (NZ) play alongside recent additions to the scene, including Finnish post-punk-tinged French Films and rising NYC act Ski Lodge.

The veteran acts who play Popfest this weekend all have something in common: they had their heyday in the underground indie pop scene in the UK in the ’80s and have re-formed within the last several years for retrospective pop fests like this one. Indie pop, which is generally defined by jangling guitars and melodic power pop, has re-entered the pop music sphere in the late naughts with the success of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Beach House and The Radio Dept.

It’s still very much a ‘scene,’ though – and the festival highlights this close-knit community. The festival, initially imagined at a popular New York house party in 1996 which featured contemporaries of ’80s indie pop at the time, continues to feature handpicked artists influenced by now-defunct prominent indie pop-oriented labels including UK’s Factory Records.

D.C.-based Slumberland Records and Olympia, WA-based K Records continue the indie pop legacy today, and both of the D.I.Y.-oriented independent labels have a presence at Pop Fest. K Records presents a film on the growth of the label, entitled “The Shield Around the K” at Videology in Williamsburg on Friday at 5 p.m. Kip from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart DJs the finale, a stacked show at Littlefield on Sunday featuring aforementioned vets Close Lobsters, The Wolfhounds and French Films. Also be sure to check out new talent in the indie pop scene at Cake Shop tomorrow night with the ever present local NYC act Grand Resort and the melodic Philly-based act Literature.

For more information on NYC Popfest including the full schedule, check out their site and listen to a free downloadable mixtape.


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