Fish and algae alike were warned Thursday, July 29th, ‘Beware, Hipsters at sea!’ As bony, bespectacled, indie-music crazed, art students locked up their bikes outside the marina by the East River, security was somehow actually needed. The annual summer ‘Rocks Off’ concert cruise was moments from shipping off to sea but there seemed to be more hipsters than space, and these American Appareled, music thirsty stand bys were not going down without a fight— or at least a salty exchange of carefully selected words.
Once the score was settled, the lucky ticket holders climbed aboard for a night of live music, dancing, and skyline views as the Half Moon cruised south along the East River, passing underneath the Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges before circling the Statue of Liberty, getting close enough to detect the historical structure’s weathered flaws.
‘Rocks Off’ has been producing concerts, parties, and events for years and the ‘Rocks Off Concert Cruise Series’ is one of its most celebrated annual events. As many of the events take place on a boat, the season runs from April-October, though they also produce shows in various venues throughout the city including Highline Ballroom, Gramercy Theater, Mercury Lounge, Knitting Factory, Southpaw, and Music Hall of Williamsburg.
The Rocks Off concert cruises is celebrating its tenth anniversary with its six cruise ships, ranging in size, location departures, and routes. The Half Moon is a 200-capacity boat with two levels docked at Skyport Marina. A full bar can be found on the lower level and the band plays upstairs under a roof, with open sides, maintaining the airy feeling of sailing on open water. In between sets, take a break from the crowd and step onto a spacious, open deck to drink in the refreshing breeze and sweeping panoramic views of the glittering city, as the late afternoon sky melts into marmalade hues, before the sun sinks behind a row of skyscrapers, enveloping the view in velvety twilight.
Once enchanted by the scenery, allow yourself to be seduced by the spell of music coming from inside. Last Thursday, the Half Moon rocked off with bands ‘Javelin’, ‘Keepaway’, and ‘I Love Monsters’.
‘I Love Monsters’ opened the show with their signature pop- dance rock fusion sound, wasting no time in getting the party started. The young four piece indie rock band has only been around since 2008, but their upbeat melodies and contagious lyrics have won them a devoted following and the evening looked promising as fans sang along to their hits ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Spine’. The band truly dove into the nautical spirit with their pop-rock tribute to T-Pain’s rap song ‘I’m On a Boat’, which took a few moments for listeners to recognize without the heavy hip-hop beats and harsh, dominating voice of the rapper. Though once the lyrics were detected, everyone was on board for a comical, impressive twist that made the song sound like a Monsters original.
Next up was ‘Keepaway’, a pop-techno band from Brooklyn, whose reggae infused beats are a tad more inviting than their name. With an enthused bearded drummer standing at a snare drum, a busy DJ who also sang while playing the keyboard, and a an eccentric electric guitarist, the band pumped out soulful, psychedelic riffs reminiscent of MGMT layered over an electro-charged Blur. Keepaway kept the crowd close as the energy of the room escalated towards an intense sea-faring shakedown.
‘Javelin’ closed the evening as they speared the air with a richly woven tapestry of synthesized howling gusts, interjected by an undercurrent of electro-rock beats played out on an electric drum pad. The duo played two extra songs per on deck request, and the singer let himself go as he climbed a pole, swinging from the bolsters like an albino, skinny jean wearing monkey, forever redefining the image one conjures when hearing the term ‘pole-dancing’. As the band’s intensity climbed so did the crowd’s as they swarmed and swayed through a sea of neon strobe lights, so that from passing vessels the Half Moon looked like it was hosting a trendy, post-pubescent bar-mitzvah. Except instead of Manishewitz this bar offered bottled Red Stripe, which no one seemed to mind.
Rocks Off concert cruises continues through October with a different event almost every night.