Other festivals might rise and fall, but year-in, year-out, CMJ comes to New York City every October. It doesn’t have the intensity of an outdoor festival such as Coachella or Bonnaroo, and isn’t the must-be-at industry event that is South-by-Southwest, but has the ease of being in the greatest city in the world, running from noon until bars close, with free drinks galore – and 24/7 subway service to taken your drunken ass home every night. The line-up of acts and parties may not have been the most impressive in 2013, but that just gave more time to catch the unknowns, long before they get huge (or break up), Tuesday to Saturday, October 15th to 19th:
Rocker Stalker showcase @ SPiN
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It was a very light final day of CMJ for QRO – individually, everyone was too tired for much at all. Saturday actually isn’t as big a day at CMJ, or any multi-venue ‘industry fest’ like it or SXSW, because not only are many people tired, but also many people have left early. And most everybody took the week off anyway, so the weekend wasn’t anything special.
But there are local bands that QRO has to catch if they’re playing CMJ, like MiniBoone on Day One (QRO recap) – and Courtesy Tier on Day Five. It was a late-announced showcase by Rocker Stalker at SPiN – not the offices of the magazine, but a Manhattan ping-pong bar (think a billiards hall, but instead with ping-pong and a lot younger, hipster-y crowd). SPiN was really classy, but a poor place for a CMJ show – small, not near anything else CMJ, not a regular music venue, poor sound, no other showcases, and virtually no cell reception. Still better than downstairs at The Delancey…
But worth it to see that ‘Friend of the Q’ Courtesy Tier had added a third member (and a girl, to boot!). The band was one of the rare guitar-and-drums duos who actually didn’t need a third member to sound full, but it was still an improvement, as they played new songs as well as old. Singer/guitarist Omer Leibovitz still always looks like he needs some sleep, but has gotten more relaxed and funnier between songs on stage now.
However, he had knocked over and broke the amp of the following band, Isle of Rhodes. Thankfully they were cool about it, so QRO had to at least stick around to catch them (using a bass amp). A singer/keyboardist & drummer duo – so not another guitar-and-drums duo – they had some emotion behind their sound, like Youth Lagoon minus that singer’s annoyingly nasal voice.
Isle of Rhodes
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-Yes, it was the second night of Arcade Fire Reflektor shows in Brooklyn, drawing attention away from all the artists who actually need it for one who already had it in spades. They didn’t do the ‘stage switch trick’ of the previous night, but left fans waiting for an encore after their performance, until Win Butler came on stage to tell everyone that there was no encore to be had (and apparently managed to compare the crowd to people with bad B.O…).
-EULA (QRO album review) @ Grand Victory.
-Mac McCaughan (of Superchunk – QRO live review) @ Baby’s All Right. Founder of Merge Records – and a great musician in his own right.