Good day! My legs and arms and head and stomach by now fully comprehend the physical strain of this particular marathon. Thankfully this city and people offer the weary visitor a number of was to replenish and sustain: strong coffee, greasy pizza, delis, drink specials and sooooo much music. So these aches in my body really don’t stand a chance against the joy of sitting in this chinatown apartment, listening to Smokey Robinson, and gearing up for another extended day of new friends and new music. I’ll get you caught up on the musical highlights of my Tuesday and Wednesday at CMJ after the jump.
Tuesday night’s showstealers were Men, a high energy, high concept performance art collective from Brooklyn. The personnel features two former members of Le Tigre, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman, and others from JD’s side project, Hirsute. Clad in hand-painted white jumpsuits, Men challenged the crowd at the IAMSOUND records showcase to stop checking their smartphones and move their asses to their thrashing, guitar-driven danceparty. I accepted! And did you know that I love sets and props?! Men performed in front of giant painted canvases, and for part of the set JD wore a handmade cardboard animal mask that looked like a giraffebunny.
Wednesday afternoon I got out of the house early for a day party hosted by Terrorbird Media at the Cake Shop. There I saw a set by Kyle Andrews, a psych-country band from Tennessee, and one of KZSC’s favorites: Baths! A few hundred people crammed into the Cake Shop basement to see Will Wiesenfeld of Baths button-mash and dial-spin his rich, sample-generated electro gloom. The second half of the set featured a dark and menacing composition that made me feel sad and punished–beat down by a relentless bass sample and noisey static pulses. Ohhhh I love it when that happens!
The Cake Shop remained at capacity for Marnie Stern’s set. Her pre-show and between-set banter consisted primarily of ‘ween’ and ‘vageen’ jokes, supposedly a product of her long-standing sexual frustration. Perhaps its this frustration that empowers Marnie’s fretboard-shredding guitar-work and the barreling-down-a-hillside pace of her music. Before her final, frenetic song she shrilled, “I don’t understand water. I just don’t get it. It has no taste…it has no flavor…SOOODAAA!”
Wednesday evening I headed to Santos Party House for a huge party featuring a slew of bands on two stages. Downstairs, my highlight was dancing along to the one man show from Ontario, Diamond Rings. Surrounded by a midi drum pad, a keyboard and his laptop, Diamond Rings produces gorgeously crafted danceable pop songs that remind me of Magnetic Fields. Check out this video for “Wait & See” and see for yourself!
Upstairs at Santos, Tamaryn made my night. Thank you, Sonja, for compelling me to see them! Propelled by Jonah Buffa’s bass and Matthew Bajda kick drum, their sound is heavy and thick. Amid the depths of a pitch black groove, Tamaryn’s low voice whirls icy currents of chanting melancholia around the controlled, screaming riffs of Rex’s guitar. The band played in near complete darkness, save for the dim light of under-saturated watery projections. If you’re into the live sets of Beach House and Dinosaur Jr., you’re sure to love Tamaryn. And there’s good news on that front: Tamaryn will play Slim’s in San Francisco on Nov. 19!
In the wee hours of Thursday morning I refueled with whiskey and pizza before catching the end of the Lefse Records/I Guess I’m Floating party in the basement of a burlesque club. Before heading in, I shared my whiskey with a fellow Massachusetts native and the members of Young Prisms, a Bay Area band who were fresh off celebrating Juan Uribe’s walk-off sac-fly at a bar nearby. Once downstairs, the crazed and hypnotic Young Prisms set preceded the fantastical and psychedelic soundscapes of Candy Claws. Playing along to a tape recording that fed into headphones worn by the drummer, bassist, and guitarist, Candy Claws performed without stopping at a fluid pace that embraced my weary body and dispelled my fatigue.
The final set in that basement began at 3:40am. The shell of myself that was still present managed to crack a smile and occasionally nod as Tom of How to Dress Well cooed and oooed for the remaining twenty-or-so people in the audience. Tom’s performance and vocal style is eerily reminiscent of the King of Pop–so much so that I tried imagining what MJ would have looked with a pubescent mustache and plastic-framed spectacles. Having spent the half hour set wrapping and unwrapping his body with the microphone cord, How to Dress Well’s last song ended abruptly with Tom cursing the by-then-faulty cable-to-mic connection.
OK! Sorry for this epic post. I’m off to college day and the CMJ awards. I’ll let you know tomorrow (or Sat) who brings home the bacon.