I’ve written in the past about all the great free music NYC has to offer and this past Friday was yet another prime example. To start the night, my buddy Kure—from We Kure Burns fame—and I caught Grand Archives’ set at the South Street Seaport. For those unfamiliar, Grand Archives is a Seattle-based band started by Mat Brooke, formerly of Band of Horses, and signed to Sub Pop. Though not wholly unlike his former band, Brooke’s new outfit places a greater emphasis on vocal harmonies and leans more towards pop-rock than alt-country. On Friday, the tunes, primarily drawn from Grand Archives’ self-titled debut, were the perfect accompaniment to the backdrop of the Seaport. There are few places I’d rather see a show on a chill Friday evening. Check out the video for “Miniature Birds” below. The llamas are sweet, but the little kid kinda creeps me out.

After Grand Archives finished up, we hustled out to Brooklyn to see Professor Murder play for free at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I had seen Professor Murder once before when they opened up for Matt and Kim at the Bowery and have wanted to see them again ever since. The scene at the Music Hall couldn’t have been more different than that at the Seaport. A cool breeze and blissfully spaced out heads were traded for a thumping bassline and hipsters abiding by an implied dress code. After mediocre sets by Pink Skull and Free Blood, Professor Murder (three excellent names by the way), set it off with their electronic post-punk. When I think of P-Murder, I think percussion out the ass with a healthy dose of cowbell. If you don’t feel like moving, you’re comatose. When they launched into “Free Stress Test,” kids started bouncing of the walls. I’ve included the best video of the song I could find below. Overall it was a great night of music and all I paid for was Budweiser.

“Miniature Birds”

“Free Stress Test”

While en route to see the Presets at Music Hall of Williamsburg, a buddy of mine casually remarked, “I heard their show last year in New York was like a rave.” Now, that can be an intimidating thing to hear on a Wednesday night. Raves are typically not how I celebrate the middle of the week. I had seen the Presets open for the Rapture in ’06 and when I signed up to go to this show, I envisioned an atmosphere similar to that of Cut Copy’s performance earlier this spring at Studio B (without a doubt one of the most fun shows I’ve ever seen). I went in expecting head-bobbing electronic beats, not sweaty kids with glo sticks. Fortunately, when the Presets took the stage, there was little day-glo to be seen and the Aussie electronic duo filled the air with infectiously dance-worthy music.

Although the Presets proved they can rock a crowd—Brooklyn kids always seem to be particularly appreciative—I felt as though something was missing. The source of my skepticism drew primarily from Julian Hamilton’s vocals, which to me sounded like a strange hybrid of the Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. It just didn’t seem to fit with hyperactive electronica. In my opinion, the strongest moments came in the form of buildups and instrumental breakdowns.

I was even more impressed by the shows’ opener, Walter Meego, heavily championed by our pals at We Kure Burns. Their fusion of Chicago house and guitar rock, topped off with eerie vocals by Justin Sconza, reminded me a bit of Ratatat at times (can’t wait to see them in July at Music Hall, by the way). I especially liked “Romantic” and “Keyhole.” I’m definitely going to check out their album Voyager, released this past May.

Walter Meego – Through a Keyhole