Several hundred fans of dreamily retro indie rock gathered in Brooklyn over the long weekend to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of Captured Tracks, the Brooklyn-based label behind the bands Wild Nothing, DIIV, Beach Fossils, Mac DeMarco, Widowspeak and others.
In a short time, Captured Tracks has built a fervent cult following around a sonic and visual aesthetic rooted in revived styles of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and attendants to the anniversary fete, a two-day festival dubbed CT5, bore more in common than taste in music. Several performers commented on the attractiveness of the crowd, which made Bushwick chic uniforms out of eclectic sunglasses, drape-y, vintage tees and tanks, cut-off denim and high top sneakers or Doc Marten boots.
Stretched over Saturday and Sunday evening and taking place at The Well, a new outdoor performance space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, virtually every band on the Captured Tracks roster played 45-minute sets for the festival, with an hour plus given to the night’s headliners, DIIV and Wild Nothing respectively.
“I actually hate festivals,” said Captured Tracks founder Mike Sniper, momentarily free from the congratulatory back-slaps and grinning embraces of well-wishers. “But when you see a bunch of people having fun and listening to music… that’s the best feeling as a record label.”
In a highlight of the festival, tickets for which sold for $30 per day, members of several Captured Tracks bands, including Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV, Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing, Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils and Justin Paul Vallesteros of Craft Spells formed a temporary supergroup they called Shit Father, with Mac DeMarco on drums. The group played a medley including covers of songs by Sniper’s old band, The Blank Dogs.
Pitchfork Media founder and CEO Ryan Schreiber was among those who came out to celebrate with Sniper and co.
“Speaking as someone who throws festivals, I know there are so many things that can go wrong,” said Schreiber. “But I’ve been impressed by how smoothly everything’s gone and the cool vibe they’ve been able to create. Everyone here is having a blast and you can tell that they really love these bands.”
Jeff Bratton, founder of fellow Brooklyn-based indie label and Billboard “Independent Study” alumnus Cascine, praised Captured Tracks’ distinct roster of bands and its ability to bring together a familial community. Cascine is currently prepping for a joint CMJ party with Driftless Records, a new label founded by Joel Ford of Ford & Lopatin, and a forthcoming co-headlining tour of its acts Chad Valley and Keep Shelley in Athens in October.
Colin Ilgen, founder of Bushwick-based DIY Internet radio station Newtown Radio, said he admired Captured Tracks for taking risks and being unafraid to go outside of the norm with its projects, the festival included.
“I see a lot of people I don’t recognize here -- it’s not just the usual crowd in the usual place,” Ilgen said. “I like the fact that they’re bringing the community in.” Newtown recently launched a Google Hangout performance series in partnership with Google+.
Beach Fossils’ Payseur, who happens to be engaged to Captured Tracks’ general manager Katie Garcia, said Captured Tracks wasn’t just his record label, but the epicenter of his social life.
“Basically all my friends and everyone I hang out with I met because of this label,” he said.
"In the beginning I thought maybe if we worked really hard we could get one band to the place where it deserved to be," said Sniper. "I don't know if we are ever truly successful, but watching what's happened for so many of our bands… it's beyond anything I ever expected."