On the Rader’ again with action from CMJ 2013
The College Music Journal festival is over, and after five long days and nights of running around New York City, riding subways, catching taxis and drinking endless amounts of coffee, I’ve compiled a list of four bands to check out, three venues to visit, two radio stations to tune into, and one festival tip.
During her performance at The Living Room, the Taiwanese singer, songwriter and producer labeled her own music as “Pedophiliac Magic,” and the title oddly fits. A demented combination of 1960s surfer music, childhood sing-along songs and progressive rock, Wang offers an eclectic mix of styles, an odd sense of fashion, and…bright orange hair. Wang released her first album in 2008, “Start From Here,” which topped the charts in Taiwan.
Perhaps the only time you’ll ever be delighted to hear about a Lawsuit. This Philly-based band’s rooted in bluegrass, country and folk with an urban twist. They have some of the tightest lyrics on the contemporary music scene. The narratives laid overtop the rocky-twangy texture of the music are filled with regret, retrospection and sadness. Check out their EP, “Cool, Cool, Cool.”
Rocket and the Ghost
From what I saw, this five-piece Rock band offered the most energetic performance of the entire festival. With clear influences from Tom Petty and David Bowie, paired with the momentum that could fill a stadium, this is the type of feel-good, Friday night type of music that everyone can enjoy. Their first single, “Goodbye,” is available for purchase on iTunes.
Lily and the Parlor Tricks
Easily one of my favorite bands at the festival, this is a sexy, sweaty, bluesy six piece with Lily and two other femme fatales in front, a drummer, bassist, and guitarist in back. The three vocalists move their bodies sensually in rhythm, which makes their ‘gospel’ feel even more provocative. Check them out on YouTube.
Pete’s Candy Store
Located just off of Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, this hip Brooklyn bar offers three separate atmospheres: a bar, a stage packed away in a sidecar attached to the bar, and an open-air patio in the back. The venue’s intimate, but small, so make sure to get there early. And a plus, there’s never a cover. Pete’s has a weekly spelling bee on Monday and poetry readings on Fridays.
The Living Room
This place is a two-story venue on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side. A set of stairs takes you to a stage no bigger than an average-sized living room, and downstairs beyond the curtains is a spacious stage with tables and seating. They have a one-drink-per-set minimum, and they change out bands quickly, but the music provided is worth the $6.
Rockwood Music Hall
Right down the street from The Living Room is Rockwood, another three-stage venue. The first stage isn’t so much of a stage as it is a corner of the bar reserved for bands, but the sound’s good, the atmosphere is personal and rustic, and if you don’t like stage one, just head into the second or third stage.
Just as the year before, KEXP offered a live broadcast in Greenwich Village on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Selected bands such as The Helio Sequence, Au Revoir Simone, and Ghost Wave performed live. This Seattle based radio station has been a force of the independent music scene since 1972.
Of course this seems obvious because of Seton Hall’s connection to WSOU, but our very own Samantha Nakhoul won the Best Music Director of the Year award. This speaks to the overall quality of the station and the urgency in which you should tune in.
Tip for CMJ 2014:
Go with a friend. The CMJ festival occurs at the same time NYC locals are out socializing at the bars/venues, if you’re like me and go just to listen to the bands, you’ll find very quickly that nearly everyone else in the room is talking and laughing. Unfortunately, there’s always the 15 minutes of setup time after one band finished playing. This can become very awkward very quickly, especially with the small size of most of these venues. Having someone to talk to pre- and post-music can turn a festival experience from a good one into a great one.
Ben Rader can be reached at email@example.com.