Monday, July 18, 2016

The Feelies at Rumsey Playfield

Glenn Mercer
In the early 1970s, vocalist/guitarist Glenn Mercer, bassist Bill Million, and drummer Dave Weckerman played in a band called the Outkids, based in Haledon, New Jersey. By 1976, the Outkids evolved into the Feelies, the name taken from a fictional entertainment device described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The Feelies created shimmering soundscapes with multiple guitar layers that set them apart from most of the punk/New Wave bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band recorded four albums and ultimately disbanded in 1992. The classic mid-1980s line-up of the Feelies (Mercer and Million on guitars and vocals, Brenda Sauter on bass, Stanley Demeski on drums and Weckerman on percussion) reunited in 2008, and in 2011 released the band's most recent album, Here Before, the band's first album in 20 years. The Feelies reunite sporadically to play concerts.

Headlining a Summerstage concert at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park tonight, the Feelies reveled in its vintage sound, performing 11 songs from its 1980s albums. The jangly guitars, garage-rock rhythms and talky vocals that made way for later bands like R.E.M. were still the backbone of the Feelies sound. The grooves were hypnotically repetitive, interrupted by a droning lead vocal or a swash of lead guitar. The sound that the Feelies mined 40 years ago became the basis of many future indie bands, but after 16 original songs, the Feelies paid tribute to its own inspirations in the encores with covers of songs by the Modern Lovers, the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, the Beatles and Television. The Feelies concert shone light on the history of rock before and after the golden era of punk.

Visit the Feelies at