Festival

Sundance Film Festival

2012

Birdmonster Attacks the Music Café!

Nicholas Kristof and Samantha Power
Birdmonster performance at Sundance

Peter Arcuni, lead singer of Birdmonster, was doing his best to rouse the middle-aged crowd at the Music Café this afternoon.

“I know those stools are really comfy,” he said to those seated up front, “but if you want to stand up you can.”

The crowd chose not to, even as the indie band broke into another loud romp that resounded through Lower Main Street and distracted pedestrians, if temporarily, from that awful smell rising from the sewer grates (more on that in another post).

In spite of the crowd’s passivity (and having driven all night, on their own dime, to play in Park City), these five San Franciscans in impossibly tight jeans and uncommitted facial hair bounded their way through the half-hour set. Rosy-cheeked lead singer Peter Arcuni, a fedora atop his head and a scarf draped over his arms, pushed himself up on the balls of his feet as he belted out lyrics that I could rarely make out due to the tent’s muddled acoustics. No matter. It was fun enough just watching him hop, jump, and kick his way around the stage, his body seizing as if he’d been jolted with 1,000 volts of electricity (or had a rod rammed up his…).

As I complained the other day, the music at the ASCAP Music Café this week isn’t even adult-contemporary in the NPR sense; it’s more like background music at a Williams-Sonoma store. But if there’s one act that doesn’t deserve the AOR tag, it’s Birdmonster.

Now, admittedly, it doesn’t take much for to get me excited about a fun, if not exactly groundbreaking, band like Birdmonster when the other Music Café acts include the Gin Blossoms, John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, and Wynonna. But I swear they smiled non-stop through the entire set—sometimes genuinely, and sometimes with smirks, as if sharing an inside joke to which the crowd wasn’t privy. It’s quite possible—nay, likely—they were amused to be playing to such a crowd, in such a venue, at such a festival. Not their usual gig, I’d imagine, but they made the most of it. As Arcuni later said to the crowd, with a much kinder vocabulary than mine, “We were told that you guys were being spoiled with mellow music, so we came to ruin it. We hope we’re doing a good job.”

Well, at least they tried.

Don’t miss our photo gallery of the show.