CMJ 2013 Recap
CMJ 2013 is now in the books. I hope you were able to see some music, particularly the spectacular showcase Greenpointers presented Friday 10/18 along with Supercrush Studios and Cara Bella Presents at Matchless. If you weren’t there, you can at least get a taste with this recap. And if you were, you can partially relive it all over again.
The evening began with DC’s Shark Week, and I wish there were more people there to see them. They were awesome (NPR agrees). It’s always tough to be first when the crowd isn’t yet at full strength, but it did not stop the band from playing a tight, energetic set that included their throwback harmonically rich, surf garage rock and a cover of Leonard Cohen.
Invisible Days took the stage next for what might have been the last time with their present configuration – their drummer is moving to Chicago. They sent him and this phase of the band off in style. As expected, the sound was loud and expressive, but what surprised me was their strong sense of melody. It’s always a thrill to get a nice blend of power and pop at a concert.
I was pretty blown away by the vocal prowess of Indigo Street, singer of Shy Hunters. Her voice is so compelling it almost masks her incredible guitar playing. Not to be outdone, drummer Sam Levin mixed percussion duties with keyboards. They are quite the multi-talented pair. I found it interesting that Sam took a more restrained, spacious approach, but it served the songs well. And their bassist was very spirited, too.
For some reason, Andre Obin was not able to play. This disappointed me; I had been looking forward to hearing him. However, my disappointment quickly melted away when Michael of Rarechild launched into his dynamic set. He was a magnetic performer, prowling the stage, dancing, and engaging the audience. The drummer was also great, perfectly integrated with the samples and other machine effects, which made for some heavily rhythmic music. The light show was cool and there was a guest vocalist on “The Visitor” (possibly Destiny from the recorded version, but I’m not sure).
The band portion of the evening closed with the largest ensemble. Ra Ra Rasputin had six people onstage and it felt like more. At this point, a full crowd was packed into the room and the wave of party that had been building all night crested into this dance-heavy set. The band brought the disco, the rock, and the banter. They were genuinely excited to be playing and even got everyone to sing happy birthday to Gabo of Supercrush, the man who made the night happen. It was a fitting end, the trio of DJs who spun tracks late into the night notwithstanding.
As for the rest of CMJ, my other favorite show of the week was the Wild Honey Pie showcase at Cameo Gallery on Saturday. I finally got to see Little Daylight, and they did not disappoint. I don’t think the band will be playing small clubs for too much longer. Their songs sounded excellent and full-bodied: tons of synths but also live guitar, bass, and drums. I also dug the moody, atmospheric Belle Mare, the peppy and self-deprecating TV Girl, the kinetic joyousness of French Horn Rebellion, and finally the entrancing, majestic Caveman. It was a good show.
Feel free to share your highlights in the comments section. CMJ 2014 is a ways off, but I’m sure most of these bands will be playing around town frequently in the coming months. See you out there.