After a disappointing Day Three (QRO CMJ 2008 Day Three recap), Friday served as a serious up-swing. It started bright at Arlene’s Grocery (QRO venue review), before a stop-off at the Cake Shop (QRO venue review) then back-to-back new acts at FADER Fort. But it ended out in Brooklyn at the Masonic Temple (QRO venue review) with two of the best bands on either side of our northern border.
Team Clermont Party @ Arlene’s Grocery, Bowery, Manhattan
The Broken West, 5:15 PM
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The sunny SoCal band had a little trouble warming up the crowd at the slightly dank Arlene’s Grocery, but their second song, "Auctioneer" really put things together right. In their return to CMJ (QRO photos from CMJ 2007), the band did have to play without their drummer, who’d broken his arm – their bassist actualy filled in on drums, and a fill-in bassist was found. Going on with more old I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On EP (QRO review) material than one might expect, it still left room for them to finish out with the new Now or Heaven‘s (QRO review) stand out "Perfect Games".
Chouette Presents @ Cake Shop
Castanets, 5:45 PM
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Hadn’t been back to Cake Shop since Day One (QRO CMJ 2008 Day One recap), and there was enough time to catch at least one new act, so it was Castanets. The sad, backwoods alt-folk/country act was stripped down, but managed to include an art-rock, even haunting guitar-rock nature. The downstairs was also packed, despite being not just an afternoon show but a ticketed afternoon show – playing Friday after work might be the best time to play at CMJ.
FADER Fort @ 160 Bowery @ Delancey, Manhattan
Kuroma, 6:30 PM
This threesome combined a sixties neo-Beatles bright with seventies gutiar rock, employing lots of wa-wa – plus flashing lights (though that probably was just FADER Fort). While it was a packed bottleneck to get to the band, there was curiously a large space right in front of them. Some of that might have been left over from photographers – but it might also have been because of Kuroma’s volume…
The Seabellies, 7:15 PM
This Australian ensemble was playing their first U.S. shows at CMJ, and didn’t disappoint. Their Canadian-style collective uplift had an energy (and male/female dual leads) reminiscent of Bound Stems (QRO interview), albeit a bit younger – all of which made them the best new band (so far) of CMJ. They certainly got a ton of attention, with so many photographers and video cameras – including a few video men who seemed way too comfortable getting way too close (even the other photographers were appalled…).
Jelly NYC Presents @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Land of Talk, 8:45 PM
After taking forever to find (and get in to) Brooklyn Masonic Temple, missed the start of Land of Talk’s set. But there was still a full crowd for Lizzie Powell (QRO interview), who had a new haircut – and bassist, and drummer (again). Drummer Andrew Barr was back touring with The Slip (QRO live review), while bassist Chris McCarron was playing guitar with The Dears (who hit up CMJ the previous two nights). But singer/guitarist Powell didn’t miss a beat with her pieces from her old Applause Cheer Boo Hiss EP (QRO review) and new Some Are Lakes LP (QRO review), dueling with her new bassist like she did with her old (QRO live review) – as well as BSS’ new saxophonist Leon Kingston on "It’s Okay" (QRO video).
Broken Social Scene, 9:45 PM
Going in to CMJ, it was likely that the one-and-only Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on) was going to be the best band of the marathon – but they still managed to out-do themselves with a two-and-a-half hour set! Like their oh-so-fun & loose Mercury Lounge show (QRO live review) right before headlining Village Voice‘s Siren Music Festival (QRO photos), the Canadian collective hit up everything in their arsenal, from classic You Forgot It In People and Broken Social Scene tracks to numbers from the more recent Presents records, Kevin Drew’s Spirit If… (QRO review) and Brendan Canning’s Something For All of Us… (QRO review) – not to mention Andrew Whiteman-as-Apostle of Hustle’s (QRO live review) excellent "National Anthem of Nowhere" and Charles Spearin’s (Do Make Say Think) unusual ‘Happiness Project’ (his recording of his neighbor talking about happiness, with Kingston playing sax along to it), and even one from newer BSS-er Sam Goldberg (Hawaii).
However, the evening still belonged to Broken Social Scene staples, something even the band acknowledged. Drew said the band had gotten new life thanks to Lizzie Powell joining them as their latest female vocalist/guitarist, a role held before by Feist (QRO live review), Amy Millan of Stars (QRO live review), and Metric’s Emily Haines (QRO live review) (though Metric bassist Josh Winstead did serve as one of the horn players, as enthusiastically as he ever did for Metric – QRO live review). The whole band was alive at Masonic, from Powell’s jumping around to Whiteman’s moves and funny faces, with Drew leading the crowd in a sustained yell (and Whiteman mock holding his ears) and a call-and-response, "I say ‘Fuck’, you say ‘You!". He also did give the totally unsurprising pro-Obama speech – didn’t Canada just re-elect their Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper?…
Easily the best show of CMJ, the whole ensemble outdid themselves with their mammoth set. Drew said that this would be the last time they’d play some the old songs in New York for a while (and even forgot the lyrics to "Cause = Time"!) – because they’d be returning next year in a giant ‘revue’, including all their side acts & more. While one can’t help the former isn’t true, the latter sounds like it could be amazing. Only request? Play a bigger venue next time – Masonic sold out in minutes (a scalped ticket went for fifty bucks…), and the slots reserved for CMJ badges went very, very early…
Broken Social Scene playing “K.C. Accidental” live at Brooklyn Masonic Temple in New York, NY:
-Helio Sequence @ Knitting Factory (QRO venue review), 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM. The two-man act (QRO album review) headlined this big Portland (Oregon) music showcase. Unfortunately, Knitting Factory is just too far away from the Bowery & Williamsburg heart of events to make it to for the drummer’s funny, funny faces (QRO photos) – move to Williamsburg already…
-I’m Not Jim @ Village Underground, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM. After last night’s Park Slope journey mishaps, didn’t want to take any chances and left early for Masonic Temple. While that turned out to be the right move, still missed Brooklyn’s own author Jonathan Lethem’s music side-project, I’m Not Jim.
-Black Lips @ ANTIC Warehouse, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM. There was a lot going on Friday night – a lot that had to be missed for Broken Social Scene, including the wild Black Lips (QRO photos).
-The Subjects @ Red Bull Space, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM. Would have loved to see these guys (QRO spotlight on) after some free beer…
-The Rosebuds @ Bell House (QRO venue review), 11:30 PM – 12:30 AM. The plan had been to hit up semi-nearby Bell House after Masonic Temple for favorites The Rosebuds (QRO spotlight on), but Broken Social Scene made sure they completely closed out the night…
-Did get to one CMJ staple – pizza at Rosario’s, wolfed down between the afternoon showcases and the evening ones.
-Managed to completely miss Clermont Ave. when trying to find Brooklyn Masonic Temple…