Sunday, 1 November 2009

CMJ Report: Day 3 (Evening Shows)

Continuing with day 3, the first show of the dark hours was somewhat out of the way, what with most of the shows on the Lower East Side, at the Sidewalk Cafe up in the East Village. Worth the walk, however, as it afforded me the opportunity to catch Setting Sun for the first time.

An intriguing mélange of acoustic-indie with pangs of twisted country, this band bridges the gap between Murder by Death and Nickel Creek....a space that no-one was aware required spanning. Both reference points are more emotional than anything else, as the unsettling crawl of 'No Devil Me No More' recalls the former, the gentle saunter of 'How Long' summoning thoughts of the latter. Instrumentation is varied and harmonies enchanting, forming a quite diverse beginning to the night.

MP3: Setting Sun - No Devil Me No More
Taken from 'Children of the Wild' - BUY

With two of the hype bands of the whole shebang playing one venue this night, namely The xx and The Antlers, it was the (relatively) long walk to The Delancey I subsequently set about. Arriving a solid 15 minutes before the latter were due to take the stage proved to be an error though, as the queue extended back towards the Manhattan Bridge and failed to move to any significant extent before the 10pm set time rolled around. Good boy scout that I am not, a back up plan was already forming and off to the Music From Ireland showcase at Bowery Poetry Club I did trot.

The chief reason for this was to see The Minutes, a stormy garage rock trio from Dublin that played to a sparse yet appreciative audience. Barreling through raucous, energetic cuts like 'Black Keys' and the huge 'Harmonic', they exude confidence in both their stage presence and playing, as well as overcoming such technical difficulties as overturned monitors and a microphone that "smells like shite". Admirable, if a little worrying.

MP3: The Minutes - Black Keys

Without any release at the moment they could certainly be brewing something formidable, if this showing is anything to go by.

Hanging around for the next few acts proved to be a mixed bag indeed. The final two I witnessed were equally average, the pedestrian acoustics of The Star Department emerging marginally ahead of the overly retro rock of Dark Room Notes in my less than enthusiastic recollection. The intervening band, thankfully, managed that all important CMJ jaw drop moment. That said, I make no excuse for not linking to the Super Extra Bonus Party that I snagged on the show sampler, as it bears little relation to the live set that so knocked me down.

With throwback cartoons projecting onto the canvas and a frontman/guitarist already set up more or less in the crowd, these lads from Kildare proceeded to tear Bowery Poetry a new orifice. By this point, a healthy gathering had amassed and a rock-dance-rave party developed, the band's three guitarists leading the charge are comprehensively backed by the guys adding hypnotic synths and thunderous beats behind them. They offer the stage to any happy dancer that wants it and create an entirely unexpected - but completely welcome - hybrid of rock and dance party, nodding at approach of the The Prodigy though keeping everything in their own style. A mesmerising, mind bending performance at this point of the night and one that I wouldn't hesitate to catch again, were the chance to arise.

As not a great deal would be likely to top the earlier performances in terms of energy, especially not approaching 1am, I decided the Rockwood Music Hall would be my best bet for a quieter final drink and some more soothing tones. So it proved to be, with the final couple of numbers from singer-songwriter Guyora Kats being pleasantly chilled, not to mention well crafted. Shortly after, a full set from Washington DC's Middle Distance Runner does well to keep energy levels up without overwhelming the senses. Their pop-leaning indie clearly has the tunes, it's just that at this time all thoughts have turned to how long the subway ride home will end up being.

Middle Distance Runner "The Unbeliever" from maxwell sorensen on Vimeo.

Nonetheless, an enjoyable band to end a day that had ra
n the gamut of performance quality and expectation. Exhausting but exciting with it.

Now playing: Super Furry Animals - Inaugural Trams
via FoxyTunes

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