[In relation to my CMJ coverage, allow me to pre-emptively apologize for two things: 1) my camera is not fabulous with concert photos, 2) I won’t be hosting many mp3s direct. The reason for the latter is that my current connection is rather slow, so it takes me ages to download and upload things. Since most of the mp3s I’d be hosting for the bands I will discuss would come from MySpace anyhow, it saves time, energy and bandwidth if I show you where you can find the mp3s. This won’t become regular T-Sides.com practice – it’s just for this CMJ coverage.]
CMJ Day Three
Show(s) Attended: FriendlyFire Showcase @ the Annex, The Wrens & The Walkmen @ the Skillman Theater at NYU
(Image from the band’s website, not taken by me, not taken at CMJ.)
Elk City was the most pleasant surprise from this year’s CMJ experience. I attended this showcase more out of duty than interest, and had no idea who any of the bands were or what to expect.
When I walked into the Annex, there was virtually no one there (it was an afternoon show). But Elk City showed great gusto, anyway, playing as though they were playing to a larger audience — always good advice, but something few can actually pull off.
Their music is a sort of psychedelic, etheral pop coupled with rock, but is considerably less psychedelic and ethereal than bands like Beach House. For some reason it reminds me of everything I liked about the female-fronted bands I liked in the ’90s (specifically the Cranberries, Hole, Garbage and (gulp) Joydrop), combined with everything I like about female singer-songwriters today (Cat Power, Neko Case).
It’s indie rock blasphemy, I know, but I’d never seen the Wrens live before this year’s CMJ. I’d also never really listened to them. Sure, I’d heard “Hopeless,” and sure, the Meadowlands was on my computer for ages, but I never really digested it. For whatever reason, when I listened to it, it just didn’t grab me. Now it’s not on my computer, and I wish it was, because I’m certain it would grab me now.
Their show, which included throwing guitars, climbing on speakers and audience members on the stage was enough to make a believer out of me. And since I’m probably the only person who hadn’t seen them until now, I’m going to shut up and try to minimize my ignorance in regard to this band. If you fall in this small category with me, then go get the Meadowlands now. As in this very instant. Or go see them live, because you too will be converted just as I was.
The Walkmen: I hesitate to put them in this category, because their performance wasn’t bad, per se. But I chose to put them here because it was disappointing. I’ve been listening to the Walkmen a lot this year (mostly their first album), and I’d been wanting to see them live for quite some time now. But their show was just a little too straight-forward. I might as well have been listening to the album for all the good seeing them live did to their music. Again, it didn’t sound bad… it just didn’t sound so drastically different. They seemed to get going a bit more when they kicked into “The Rat” halfway through, but whatever it was they had, they quickly lost it again. Such a bummer.
Diableros: They followed Elk City at the Annex, and after Elk City, the few people that were there mostly left. I felt really bad for Diableros, because that’s a hard thing for any band to face, but at the same time, their music didn’t particularly warrant any special attention.