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Friday, 29 October 2010 19:30

A few rambling recaps and on-the-fly photos from CMJ 2010

Fergus & Geronimo at CMJ 2010 Fergus & Geronimo at CMJ 2010 Nick Acquisto
Written by Nick Acquisto

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jaill at the Studio at Webster Hall

Before starting their set, the singer warned the audience in advance that the band had just eaten falafel and so no one should stand too close to the stage. The set started a little rough, but Jaill had won the crowd over by the end as the energy and songs got better as the set drove along. 

Their vocals live had the snarky tone of a young Tom Verlaine or Richard Hell. This is probably what prompted me to buy not one but two Television bootleg discs at the WFMU Record Fair a couple days later. Jaill sounded a little different than the recent Sub Pop release, a lot more loose and raw, not better or worse. Again, I had few expectations, but was totally won over by them by the end.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at the Studio at Webster Hall

Stayed at the Studio for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., but wandered outside for a minute and saw the line all the way down the block trying to get in to see Two Door Cinema Club, I still wonder if any of those people actually got in. DEJJ had a full house even though they were playing several different venues throughout the course of the 5-day festival. They appeared onstage in Nascar racing suits covered in logos. One sported Cheerios across the chest and the other Lysol. I wonder if they actually got endorsements. They played great live and rocked, their songs trickled and soaked by bleeps and electronic pads. Their show also displayed make-shift strobe light bulb kits shining about 30 light bulbs each on both sides of the stage. Plenty of gimmickry, but they really delivered some great songs with an equally great performance.

Olof Arnolds

Olof Arnolds at Googies

Next I wandered to see Icelandic artist Olof Arnolds perform at Googies, a venue above the Living Room in the Lower East Side. Olof switched between guitar, violin and ukulele, while her partner switched between a white baby grand and guitar. There were a couple of sound issues and monitor problems brought to the attention of the audience by banter back and forth between Olof and the sound guy and audience. It ended up really distracting from the show and slowly started becoming the show. When it just grew too awkward and not much music happening, I had to make my way out and off to the next gig. Maybe next time Olof.

Drink Up Buttercup

Drink Up Buttercup at Bowery Electric

I had hoped to catch Lawrence Arabia here, but my stop for quick pizza slowed me down. It's easy to forget about eating at CMJ. Drink Up Buttercup was epically amazing, the new material is a total departure from the band's previous album. Operatic vocals, think Queen and Sparks blended into clamorous wild psych-rock songs. It made for a great live rock show and their energy was contagious. I had hoped to see Suuns, up the street, but the amount of people outside trying to get in half way through their set, made me realize that wouldn't be possible. So Drink Up Buttercup was a good close to the night.

Friday, October 22, 2010


DeVotchka at Fontana’s

There’s nothing like seeing a great band in such a small basement venue. Lucky for the audience this one wasn’t listed in the CMJ guide, otherwise, I don’t think a lot of us would have gotten in. DeVotchka has a lot on its plate right now: the band has scored music for three films about to be released in the next month or so and has a new album due out in February. The set was beautiful and, as expected, nothing short of pro. They played a few new songs, which successfully excited the crowd for their upcoming album. The following night they played at Big Top and the show featured trapeze artists (not to mention, Big Top itself is a circus grounds). Crazy! Wish I could have made it. I ended up finding a clip on YouTube and kicked myself.

The Generationals

The Generationals at Fontana’s

The Generationals made their way through their catchy catalog and played two of my favorites “Angry Charlie” and “When They Fight They Fight." (This song from their album Con Law is fated to close a TV show or film.)

The Mynabirds at Fontana’s

The Mynabirds played next and demonstrated their songwriting and harmonizing skills to a full house.

Park the Van Showcase Slate

David Vandervelde at Littlefield in Brooklyn

This was part of a Park the Van Records showcase. The label was Dr. Dog’s home before moving on to Anti-. Like Dr. Dog, and like so many other great bands on the label, Vandervelde has a knack for lo-fi '60s songwriting and some great guitarwork and songcraft that pushes the songs to the next level. As a side note, St. Louis group Old Lights frontman David Beeman once held down drumming duties for the dude. David Vandervelde plays in St. Louis at Antarctica of all places on Sunday, Nov. 7 with labelmates Brass Bed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spent most of the day at the WFMU Record Fair. If you are ever in New York when this is happening. GO! Go and expect to spend a lot of time there.

Feraby Lionheart at the Living Room

Apparently he was running late and was only able to play a few songs. I caught the last 2 from the back of the room. Terrific songwriter. His new album The Jack Of Hearts sounds so genuine which can be so refreshing when it seems like so many indie-rock artists are steering the ship away from that right now.

Gary Lucas Gods and Monsters at Bowery Poetry Club

This man is a guitar legend and demonstrated his abilities to an unfortunately very sparse crowd at the Bowery Poetry Club. He has played guitar with Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Holy Modal Rounders/Fugs/Peter Stampfel, Lou Reed, David Johansen and dozens of others. He had a portion of the stage with pedals on a small table that he hit with his hands and some on the floor he’d stomp with his feet. Other performers onstage switched between trombone, saxophone and keyboard, jamming the dark and oompa sound behind his bassy voice. Definitely worth seeing live.

Fergus & Geronimo at the Pure Volume House

I knew nothing of this band going in and was glad to have stumbled across them. The young kids from Denton, Texas delivered the goods. DIY raw, rock with keyboard organ that had the whole room dancing and hungry for more. Check ‘em out!

School of Seven Bells

School of Seven Bells at Santos Party House

This was the final stop and I had hoped to get into the club for Asobi Seksu, but unfortunately the line was all the way down the block. I luckily made it into the packed venue. Despite one of the sisters leaving the group a week prior, the set was great, but in a room with little ventilation the smoke machine got kinda overwhelming. Their sound is kind of a Stereolab, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine mix that had everyone in a trance state by the end of the show.

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