Monday, October 27, 2008

Sea Em Jay Blog: "My face still hurts from getting a trashcan thrown at it"

Hey folks,

Sorry I took my sweet time getting this post up, but by the time we got back last night, it was 4 in the morning, and I decided that I should at least try to get 5 hours of sleep. So, let's go back to Saturday, a simpler, wackier time.

Because of CMJ, I actually happened to be in town for the unreal vinyl collector wet dream that is the WFMU Record Fair, and I cajoled my fellow attendees (primarily sleepy Kenny) to wake up early so that we could go for just a little bit. WFMU is a thousand watt non-commercial freeform radio station based out of Jersey City, and basically, my personal idea of what KWUR should aspire to. Every year, they invite every obsessive record dealer in America to hock their wares in the city. The selection made me go cross-eyed: everything from old country shellac to impossible to find punk records to 100 dollar Northern Soul 45s to a whole big box of song poem 45s. Additionally, WFMU was broadcasting live from the air. A DJ was spinning 45s, and while we were there, a DJ actually got married on the air. Anyone want to step up to get married during KWUR's Hustle Week? I had to be torn out of the record fair, but I came out with a few groovy soul 45s, which I intend to play on my show, so, ahem, tune in, Sundays at 7.

After that, we headed to Music Hall of Williamsburg to catch the AAM party. Last time I went to Music Hall of Williamsburg, it was called NorthSix, and had a charming shithole quality to it. I remember distinctly that the toilets in NorthSix were not even in bathrooms, but merely had tall plywood boards erected around them for, uh, privacy of some sort. Alas, the folks from the Bowery Ballroom bought the venue and prettied it up. We caught the last couple of songs by Crystal Antlers, which didn't really make much of an impression on me. Next up were the Ruby Suns, a New Zealand band with an electronic, exotic, upbeat, happy New Order kind of sound. Can't say exactly why, but it just didn't grab me at all. After that, we watched A Place To Bury Strangers put on the kind of noise show that makes your lip curl up and your feet stomp through the floor. Their drummer is tight and their guitars squeal, fuzz and yelp like broken robot animals. I enjoyed the show, but I also couldn't tell you what makes them any better than any other eighties/early nineties noise rock band. I was going to leave at this point to try and catch Passion Pit, per DJ Alex Esche's request, but I found out that the show was canceled (boo!), so, having no other plans, I stuck around to watch Monotonix again. Once again, they tore it up most veritably, although because of the time, the larger venue, and the audience of mostly industry professionals, they did not do it to the extent they did in the Knitting Factory. It was really neat, however, to see them get the industry stiffs going, and to have the lead singer instruct us to go "fucking wild" at the count of four. This is the kind of rock and roll I really like, the kind that grabs you by the collared shirt and shakes the groove out of you.

We got some grub in Chinatown, and then DB and I headed over to the Bowery Ballroom to catch Marnie Stern, Vivian Girls et al. First up, noise rockers All The Saints. Most of what we saw at CMJ, especially on Saturday, were these noisy, amp fuzz bands. I enjoyed and appreciated most of those shows, but also thought that the music was generally indistinct, and yearned for those good old fashioned harmonies and the good old build-up and release of pop. All The Saints was a good example. I thought the show was alright, especially the drummer, who was a freakin' nut, but I couldn't tell you for the life of me what makes them special, or why you should keep an eye out for them. After them, Marnie Stern. I was disappointed by this show, no lie. I had high hopes for it, and while Marnie Stern's combination of weird, child-like yelped lyrics and Malmsteen-like fingertapping was certainly interesting, I yearned for just one goddamn distinct song. It all kind of blended together. After Marnie Stern, my favorite show of the night, The Vivian Girls. See, this is the kind of thing I like, a three girl trio specializing in Ramones-style surf/girl group informed punk with fuzzy guitars and lovely vocal harmonies. Y'know, it's nice sometimes to have two minute songs with harmonies and vocal hooks. I say, check these folks out, pretty good. I ended the day as I began it: Crystal Antlers. The blogs are championing these guys. I dunno, it was a high-energy, engaging show, but again, I don't know what distinguishes them from all the other noisy bands, and I certainly don't remember any one song. But hey, maybe I was just tired.

So that was CMJ, as colloquial and badly written as I can get it. I'll get pictures up for you folks ASAP. Fare thee well.

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