Broken Bells Make Memories at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

September 29th, 2014

Broken Bells – Rumsey Playfield – September 26, 2014

Broken Bells – Rumsey Playfield – September 26, 2014
What began as a notable collaboration has morphed into a true band, as Broken Bells showed a packed Rumsey Playfield on Friday night. With two LPs, the band—comprised mainly of Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse, one half of Gnarls Barkley) and James Mercer (the Shins—already has grown a fan base that didn’t spend the night shouting requests for songs that didn’t belong to Broken Bells. Musically, the biggest sign they’ve done something really right might just be that Mercer’s voice, unmistakably the most identifiable part of the Shins’ sound, easily blends into the cool and moody rock that they’re now known for. Rather than this being some side project, Broken Bells have had remarkable shows of their own without needing to be qualified as “that guy’s other band.”

For more than an hour, Broken Bells bounced between material from this year’s After the Disco and their 2010 self-titled debut in front of a circular screen filled with images like starry expanses and tunnels of colored light. And whether he was on the slick white keyboards or banging away at the drums, Burton, his head hung low, was a wonder to watch, fully concentrated but loose enough to groove. Dance-y tracks like “Holding On for Life” contrasted well with the likes of “Perfect World” and its spacier jams. And often Broken Bells met somewhere in the middle, with songs like “The Ghost Inside.” Right before the show ended and everyone in Central Park split off in different directions to finish their Fridays elsewhere, the band let loose a dozen giant glowing orbs, giving the crowd one more Broken Bells memory. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg |