And so it began, and with it, my slow crescendo-ing journey into CMJ. After a slice of cold pizza for lunch and some much hemming and hawing about what to actually see, Tuesday presented some limited options to start. Mainly, you could go to Pianos or Cake Shop during the day, and thankfully they’re right next to each other. I looked at both line-up’s — one for the Music Slut and one for Pop Tarts Suck Toasted — and decided Pop Tarts was the better show, mainly because Mr. Dan Friel, who recently put out one of my favorite albums of the year Ghost Town, was about to go on.
Also one of the founding members of the seminal Brooklyn rock band Parts & Labor, who were actually celebrating the release of their new album Receivers on this day, I wandered down into the basement of the Cake Shop to catch his set. To be expected for a Tuesday at 3pm, the room started with only a handful of people before eventually growing to a couple dozen or so. Everyone in the room was very receptive to Dan’s brand of distorted pop as the knob twister weaved through an excellent set before coming to an apex with his album single “Ghost Town (Part 1)”. Dan seeming to enjoy it the most (it’s always good to see a musician having fun while performing), thrashing around while twisting away.
MP3 Download – “Ghost Town (Part 1)”
[Dan Friel starting to headbang]
[Dan Friel in full headbang]
From there I wandered over to The Music Slut’s showcase at Pianos to catch one of this year’s “it” bands in Chairlift. Figuring Tuesday at 5pm would be the ideal time to see them before the iPod industry nerds caught up with them. I was clearly wrong, and upon deciding the crowd was too annoying to deal with, I wandered upstairs to catch one of my favorite singer-songwriters at the moment, Kaz Nomura aka PWRFL Power.
[PWRFL Power at Pianos]
Kaz is a master of story telling, and despite the life being sucked out of the room by people who decided it was ok to talk loudly over his set, everyone who was paying attention found him to be quite delightful. His quirky pop songs about falling in love (with an underage girl), or falling in love (with a girl who doesn’t know how to use chopsticks), or tigers, or girls who think the song about a tiger is about them even though he never met the girl before, or basically whatever he feels like telling us about, Kaz is one of those artists who will keep you enthralled waiting to hear what his next line is. And aside from being a great singer songwriter, he’s actually quite skilled on the guitar as well. Although on this day he was wielding an acoustic as opposed to his vintage Epiphone electric.
After Kaz’s set I wandered over to the ridiculous Crash Mansion to interview a punk icon. HR from Bad Brains (or Good Brains as he now likes to refer to them) was celebrating the release of his new album Walla, but before that I took a few moments to sit with him and discuss, well, whatever HR felt like discussing — because you don’t fuck with HR. More on that to come.
Upon leaving the delightful HR, I grabbed a bagel with cream cheese, met up with some friends and decided it was time to leave the “official” CMJ and wander over to Brooklyn and catch some bands that were a bit more below the radar (see – much more exciting to me), for the Impose Magazine and Entertainment4Every1 [un]CMJ showcase at Death By Audio.
Ironically, I walked in right as Kaz was performing, this time to a much more receptive audience who were respectful to the engaging performer.
[PWRFL Power at Death By Audio]
With a line-up that consisted of 14 bands from all over the sonic continuum and all over the country, I was finally happy to settle in and give my feet a rest. I was going to see more here than if I tried to walk to another near by venue. After Kaz, I stayed for the first few songs of Air Waves before heading out for dinner — another bagel. This time with swiss cheese.