Five great bands I saw at New Colossus 2024 (Ducks Ltd, NOBRO, Langkamer, more)

This past weekend was the 2024 New Colossus fest, which brought 150 emerging artists from all over the world to NYC’s East Village and Lower East Side. The festival started off with a bang in 2019 and was one of the last US festivals to happen in 2020, wrapping up just before Covid lockdown. It took 2021 off and returned in 2022 and 2023, but this year felt like first time they were back at full strength since the innaugural fest. It was a lot of fun hopping around between clubs and even though I didn’t make it out on either Friday or Saturday night, I still managed to catch upwards of 25 bands across Wednesday night, the BrooklynVegan showcase on Thursday night and day parties on Saturday and Sunday.

A good chunk of the acts that played New Colossus are now in Austin for SXSW — though many are now only playing unofficial showcases in protest of the festival having the Army as a major sponsor. Here are five New Colossus sets I loved, three of which you can also see this week in Texas.

Vera Ellen


New Zealand’s Vera Ellen were the first band I saw at New Colossus, an early Wednesday set at Berlin Under A. It was their first show, too, and they told the crowd they’d only just landed a couple hours ago. Jet lag from New Zealand has to be brutal, but Vera and the band played it like a hometown show. Vera has a magnetic presence and powerhouse pipes to match, which works perfectly with her confessional, eye-for-detail, ear-for-dialogue style on catchy if often heartbreaking songs like “Lenny Says” and the NYC-set “Broadway Junction.” A great way to start a festival.

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All punk bands should have a bongo player. That was my main takeaway from Montreal band NOBRO’s very spirited set at the BrooklynVegan showcase at Baker Falls on Thursday. That and even though there were still three days of the festival left, NOBRO had already won New Colossus. The band made us a list of songs they use to pump themselves up before a show, but their own music would definitely serve the same purpose for anyone else, as every song they played was full of positive vibes, shout-along-choruses, big, hooky riffs, and lots of audience participation. And bongos! Even “Let’s Do Drugs,” with it’s chorus of “Drugs drugs drugs drugs drugs drugs” and lines like “Let’s shit our pants / Go crash our high school / Puke on the steps,” is a total jock jam. You’d have to work very hard to have a bad time at a NOBRO show.

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lucy kruger - new colossus
Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys


Goth is a popular aesthetic that is easy to pull off in the studio, but much harder live on stage. I saw a few bands I’d call “goth” at New Colossus, but the only one I believed was Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys. This Berlin-based group may be named after a very silly ’80s vampire movie, but South African-born Kruger is the real deal, with enough attitude and drama for a few bands, let along the pared-down duo setup they were playing as on Saturday at the Dedstrange Records party at Pianos. (Normally it’s a full band, but here Lucy was backed by a guitarist and drum machine). She possesses a death stare that looks both through you and into your soul at the same time that you cannot look away from it. Their set of very moody songs — if not full goth, definitely goth-y — was performative for sure but had the full house rapt the whole time.

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At festivals like New Colossus or SXSW, where attendees are running around between venues and sometimes don’t stay for an artist’s full set, it’s good to grab ’em right from the start. That’s just what Bristol, UK band Langkamer — who were in the US solely to play New Colossus — did, kicking off their Saturday afternoon set at Pianos’ upstairs bar with “Hamlet,” the Pavement-y indie rock gumball from their 2022 EP, Red Thread Route. It’s the kind of song that lodges into your brain in the opening 10 seconds and I’ve been singing it ever since. They held that crowd, too, with a set of equally memorable songs played with hangdog shagginess that couldn’t disguise their chops. LIke Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, there’s a fondness for noodling and vintage British folk, and the band’s dueling guitarists let the choogle free a few times but never lost sight of the song, with singer/drummer Josh Jarman keeping loose wheels on the track.

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Ducks Ltd


I’d been wanting to see Toronto’s Ducks Ltd for a few years, since their debut album, but kept missing them, so I was very happy that they were my last New Colossus set of 2024, when I caught them at the official closing party at Arlene’s Grocery. (They came down just for this fest and are not in Austin this week.) I was also glad to see them as Evan Lewis and Tom McGreevy have transformed from a duo with a drum machine to a full band capable of bringing their jangly earworms to full life. This band are an earworm farm, raised on classic janglepop (The Clean, Go-Betweens, Orange Juice) but they make it their own and have a real mastery of melodic songcraft and guitar hooks. Everybody was a little low energy on Sunday afternoon after four nights of festing, but McGreevy was a whirling dervish onstage and he and Lewis nailed the harmonies. I can’t wait to see them again. That’s how you close a festival!

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New Colossus will return in 2025 from March 4-9 in the Lower East Side.