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CMJ Day 2: I probably should have invested in earplugs (Kenny) by

October 27th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

It has occurred to me that perhaps not all of you readers know exactly what CMJ is, so I’ll direct you here for all the pertinent background info.

In any case, we began Day 2 with a quick(ish) visit to the WFMU Record Fair. Afterward, we headed over to Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch the AAM showcase. Here’s the breakdown:

The Ruby Suns

Only caught the end of this show. The band is a multi-instrument duo from New Zealand who (on record) sound like they’re channeling The Go! Team through a psychedelic filter. Unfortunately, I didn’t find them to be as impressive on stage, but from what I caught, it certainly wasn’t a bad way to start the day.

A Place To Bury Strangers

There was no shortage of noise rock at CMJ, but A Place To Bury Strangers was, in my opinion, by far the best of the pack. They took the stage wordlessly but not silently, blasting their dark take on shoegaze with the volume set to 11. I’d heard that these guys put on a hell of (a loud) show, and I was not disappointed. There were industrial undertones playing throughout the show, with strong tension between the solid, churning bass and the wild, almost chaotic guitar line. The visual show (rare among other acts ) was impressive as well. I stood close to the stage (which, unsurprisingly, was pretty empty) to get a few good shots of the band, and as a result was partially deaf (hence the title) afterward.

Near the end of the show, Oliver Ackermann, the guitarist, forcibly removed the strings from his guitar:

Crystal Antlers

I was in and out for this show, but I caught a full set later in the evening at the Bowery Ballroom. They, too, made a hell of a lot of chaotic noise, but only one song really stood out for me – a kinda funky, swinging melody backed by primal, forceful drumming (aided by dual percussionists). They, like many bands at CMJ, played well but not particularly memorably.


What can I say – we noticed that these guys were finishing off the AAM show and, with no other plans, we stuck around to see what they could do to this venue (I heard, but did not witness, that they had been forcefully removed from the VICE afterparty after setting up shop on the bar). The show was crazy (though not as outright insane as last night’s) but knowing what to expect, I actually took some time to listen to the music they were making amidst the chaos. Pitchfork’s photographer bitched about the quality of their music, but you know what, I thought it was pretty damn good garage rock ala Zep – and based on the reactions of those around me, I think other people felt the same way.

After the showcase ended, we grabbed a bite to eat and wandered around the city for awhile in the rain. Shainks and I decided to head back to the Knitting Factory to try to get into Dieselboy, but the show wasn’t accessible with a CMJ badge and cost 20 bucks. We trekked to the Bowery, met up with Dan and Dylan, and saw…

Vivian Girls

This Brooklyn trio has been hyped by a lot of blogs – and in this case, they absolutely deserve it. They play loud, messy, lo-fi punk/garage rock (like, sounds like you’re hearing it in a garage – not a bad thing), but deconstruction of the noise reveals awesome vocal harmony, jangly guitar and drumming that’ll get yr foot a’tappin. This was their last show of the week (they had played 2 shows a day almost every day), and they looked a little worn down, but they sounded great. At one point, they started a song off-beat and had to begin again, and at another, Cassie forgot some lyrics. In the end, though, none of that mattered – they rolled with the punches and played one hell of a show.

We caught up with the band after the show and got a quick interview, check back here for it a little later.

That more or less sums up the shows we saw – nothing quite as nutso-crazy-awesome as yesterday, but good performances nonetheless.

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