Fang Island with Chinese Stars and the Bellys
10 p.m. Tuesday, March 23
Dragon's Den, 435 Esplanade Ave.
Masked ex-presidents. Mexican wrestlers. Mimes who idolize Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Each plays a central role in Fang Island's video for "Daisy," the first single off the Brooklyn quintet's self-titled February debut (Sargent House) and among the more glorious entrances by a nascent rock band in years.
In retrospect, the song, a giddy power-pop head rush in the mold of fellow anthemic Brooklynites MGMT and Yeasayer, could only have been accompanied by ridiculous visuals. The slaphappy, apparently improvised interpretive-dance routine alludes to Point Break, Nacho Libre and Dirty Dancing, and stars Juilliard students with painted faces and Fang Island members dressed as bank-robbing Reagans.
The band — like Yeasayer and countless others, a product of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) — tapped another New York City artist, music video director Carlos Charlie Perez (Lil Wayne, Vampire Weekend), to shoot its proper introduction to the public. "Carlos said he liked our band and would like to do a video but that he was going to be busy for some amount of time," says Nick Sadler, one of three guitarists with co-founders Jason Bartell and Chris Georges. "Jason saw the opportunity and actually paid Carlos out of his pocket to get that video done immediately. Because of that, some of us weren't able to get there. The only members who are in the video are Chris and Jason.
"That's Chris in the wrestling costume, who comes in with the flag that says 'Vaya Con Dios,'" he adds, laughing. "The tallest president is Jason, and the shortest is our projection guy, Sam."
Fang Island's rollout expands this month, with the band's initial appearance at Austin's South By Southwest conference anchoring its first extended circuit with the current lineup. Sadler, the latest addition, joined after leaving his previous band, Providence, R.I., underground favorite Daughters, in 2006. "The whole thing's a little bit of an unveiling, in a way," he says. "I think it'll be the first time a lot of people will hear us, because this is our first real tour. We just want to get [to Austin], say hi to some people, play well and have a good time."
Modest goals, to be sure. But if the buzz surrounding a band playing its first real series of gigs seems strange, consider how it must feel to the members themselves, who had been scattered in cities across the East Coast and working on Fang Island for much of the past two years. "We would reconvene, record more, come back and mix more," Sadler says. "It's taken a long time, but now we're all moving to New York together. We have a whole hoard of music ready to follow this one up pretty quickly."
That likely means more inspired collaborations with Perez are on the way. Through the director, representatives for MTV's new reality show The Buried Life heard "Daisy" and licensed it for use in advertisements for the series, billed as a sort of Bucket List for thrill-seeking twentysomethings. The premise is cheesy, Sadler admits, but strangely apropos for Fang Island's high-energy, high-fiving aesthetic: "It's kind of what our band is about. That's a perfect show for us to be soundtracking."
YouTube is the new MTV, however, and with the increased interest in "Daisy," a second viral video featuring the band is making the rounds. Just as charming, the April 2007 clip shows the original RISD lineup jamming in a kindergarten classroom at Providence's Highlander Charter School to a group of hopping 5-year-olds. "The first time I saw it, it blew my mind," says Sadler, who joined the following week. "It's been one of my personal, quiet sadnesses that I wasn't able to be in that video."