Another CMJ has come and gone. While this year was one day longer than years past (ie: I am dead now), it seemed a lot tamer overall. As a matter of fact almost everyone I ran into mentioned that most of the bands out here have played before, and there wasn't anything that stood out like red on black as it has in prior years. That's not to say that it sucked, it was just less crazy, and in my old age (27 going on 18) that's not a bad thing.
Since the FADER Sideshows took up the daytime, the night was when we got to get out and play. Below are some of our highlights from the night events at this year's CMJ.
Monsters Are Waiting - It seems like every CMJ there is that one venue that every single show seems to be at; this year was no different and it was all about Pianos. While Monsters Are Waiting has played here a few times before, this was our first time to catch the Los Angeles band. Vocalist Annalee kept the crowd pleased with her memorizing vocals while visuals paraded across the screen behind her. My one complaint about Pianos this year is that whoever was stage-managing needs to be fired. Every night that we were there the bands were running over an hour late, and that totally threw off our schedule for the night. Up next on the KCRW bill of the night was Birdmonster. "Christine" MP3
Birdmonster - When Birdmonster finally took the stage, they were donned in classic Halloween costumes (Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Animal and Joe Perry). It was nice to see them having fun and acting in the spirit of the day. They blazed through their set with massive amounts of energy, sweat and balls to the wall noise. If you haven't seen these guys before then you better soon as I bet their unsigned status doesn't say that way for long. Birdmonster on WOXY
White Rabbits - Leave it to CMJ to be the first time you check out a New York band in New York. We have tried to see these guys five times before and every time we have either been at another show or out of town so this was going to be good. White Rabbits consist of two drummers and a shitload of calypso beats. Although my feet were already growing tired from day one, I couldn't help but stand up and get my dance onto them. Just as the day before, Pianos was running late so by the time White Rabbits was over it was time to run over to the NME Party. White Rabbits
NME Party -- After traveling deep into the heart of Chinatown through uncharted waters, we finally found Harmony Palace, the weirdest place ever. A friend of mine told me that when she was little, her family would go there for dim sum and weddings. After hearing that you could totally visualize that experience. Anyway, we were there for one reason, to check out CSS. Yeah, its cheese, but we really wanted to hear them play "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above." Apparently that was not in the cards for the night because one of the chicks in the band had throat problems, so instead we rocked out to Office, The Horrors (who were beaten up the day before) and surprise guests The Sounds, not to mention the house "hype man" telling all the ladies to "scrreeeeaaaaammmmm". Club NME
Dangerbird Showcase - First off, what a difference a few years make. Thursday night was a biggie as far as lineups go, but there was one place I knew I had to be at - the Dangerbird Records showcase. Last year at CMJ there was a steady crowd at their showcase, but the room at times was empty. However, this year was jam packed with people and a who's who of coolness. Ironically the venue stopped taking badges early into the night, so thank goodness we were "with the band" on their lists. The bill was solid - new signings Dappled Cities and All Smiles with veterans Silversun Pickups, La Rocca and Darker My Love. You've heard us gush about SSPU in the past, so we aren't even going to go there, and each time we see La Rocca they continue to amaze us, but this was our first time to witness Darker My Love. The guys tore through their label's debut self-titled LP, and we cant wait to catch them again when they play a proper venue show, one where we can actually see and breathe. Seriously next year, Dangerbird might look at booking Mercury Lounge, or better yet, Bowery Ballroom to toot their horns. Dangerbird Records
Fields - You know you are like Norm from Cheers when you walk into the Bowery Ballroom and the security guy lets you in even though badges are no longer allowed in. I guess going there weekly for shows help foster that kind of relationship. Anyway, we enjoyed Fields so much that we decided to go back over to see them again. The band played some of my favorites including "Song For The Fields," "Feathers," and "Heretic," and it was nice seeing them in a proper venue. "Heretic" MP3
Mew - The first time we caught these art rockers we were blown away. Their live show is something that is better seen as it really is a dramatic experience. While we were giddy that we got the see them again, it sucks when it's an abbreviated set. They did manage to pull out some favorites such as opener "Special," as well as "Zoo Keeper's Boy," "Apocalypso," and "Am I Wry?" before closing with "Comforting Sounds." "Zookeeper's Boy" video
Bon Savants - We have been screaming about these guys nonstop now, and they are currently on tour supporting their debut album release, so if you missed them at CMJ then go see them. The band were the first on the bill at the Big Shot Touring Showcase (and rumor has it that they are now working with Big Shot as a result of this show), but they managed to fill Mercury about half-way, which wasn't bad for such an early show. I think that after they get more touring under their belt with their new lineup they will be even more awesome than they already are, especially with songs like "Between The Moon And The Ocean." "Between The Moon And The Ocean" MP3
Gigantic Showcase - After Bon Savants we went and grabbed some food and managed to scramble over to the Gigantic Records showcase. The lineup featured past favorites Human Television (replaced by White Rabbits), but we were excited to see two of their newest signings, Low Frequency In Stereo and Masion Blanche. Sadly the food made us miss them (here's to hoping we don't repeat the White Rabbits drama from above with them), but we did manage to get there just in time for The Boggs and Aa. Gigantic
So there you have it, some of our highlights from this year's CMJ. Now, the countdown begins for SXSW. Who's comin'?