Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Go! Team at Bowery Ballroom - Oct 27, 2007

The Power is On

Ian Parton, founder of The Go! Team, should consider himself very lucky. I read he is pretty much responsible of the music, samplings and stuff, but I don't know what he could have done to pull all that off in concert if he hadn't met Ninja ever.

Live, The Go! Team are really a team, switching instruments and places on stage, but it is Ninja who steals your attention... she is that "!" that makes them The Go! Team and not only The Go Team. When she is not on stage, letting her other two girl band mates to sing, you miss her. When she fakes she has broken her knee, you feel it too and get worried. When she dances ridiculously or not, you follow her... she makes you don't even care you are at the Bowery Ballroom with the cool people and don't feel embarrassed about doing it. I hadn't seen so many hands up in the air there by request of the artist, like ever.

Thunder, Lightning, Strike might be one of the best albums of this 00's and yesterday live, together with their new Proof of Youth, sounded even better. Besides how awesome their sound already is, we enjoyed Ian playing harmonica and Ninja singing all (?) the sampled vocals. This is what the Team played for us:

The Power is On
We Just Won't Be Defeated
Panther Dash
Wrath of Marcie
Fake ID
Grip Like a Vice
A Version of Myself
Junior Kickstart
Bottle Rocket
Everyone's a VIP to Someone
Flashlight Fight
Huddle Information
Titanic Vandalism
Doing it Right
Keys to the City

As you can guess, The Team doesn't play 30 minute sets anymore... this one was at least 1h 20m of pure celebration. I thought I knew how to have fun... [photos of the show]


Were you at the show? How did you like it?

The Go! Team Links: Youtube (Recommended), Official Website, MySpace, Wikipedia, Memphis

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: New Violators / Baby Dayliner / Dragons of Zynth / Georgie James / Prof. Murder / Harlem Shakes @ Mercury Lounge - 10/20/07

Professor Murder tries new material

Playing your CMJ show the last day of the marathon cannot be easy. You know everybody is tired and very little patient so you gotta show your best asap. I decided to head early to Mercury Lounge to make sure I wasn't going to be left out to see Professor Murder, so I got there by 7 pm and stayed until 1 am. Fortunately Professor Murder, my most anticipated show of the night, wasn't the only good thing I got to see.

New Violators were first and had a decent crowd at the Lounge for a 7 pm show. Their music sometimes sound like U2 to me, or Bono more precisely, and as soon as they shake that off in their songs they sound not only original but better. The singer's look easily reminds you David Bowie but the comparisons stop right there. I really appreciated the drummer's skills... they sometimes sounded to me like the very noticeable drums in the new Shocking Pinks album. I sympathized with them just because of the fact that they made their way from Denmark to the States just to play a 35 minute show, so let me say that even though they don't need what I am about to say, because they should be about to pop up (if they haven't already), I wish them good luck.

The next band was called Baby Dayliner and by the time they were supposed to start, 8 pm, only one person was on stage getting ready a computer and plugging in a microphone. I thought the band was going to lose some of their time but the music started right on time... the band was only this guy crooning (and sometimes sort of rapping) on top of a track played by iTunes. I felt I was in a Karaoke show, except that the singer was good and the songs were actually his. As Jamie Lidell's take on soul music is new in the sense of being adventurous, Baby Dayliner's is new in the sense of being ironic... good ironic.

Then I saw TV on the Radio. Wait, right, TV on the Radio was not playing CMJ. Dragons of Zynth was the band playing. Their image and, most of the time, their music, didn't really let me enjoy them because of this unavoidable comparison to the Brooklyn favorites. Sometimes they did, but for being new music I am not interested.

I was getting sleepy so I had to buy a drink. Scotch. The next band didn't help... Georgie James. First of all, a recommendation from a guy that knows absolutely nothing: stop adding the "ex - Q and not U" to your name every time you announce a show... it's cheesy. Q and not U fans surely know who you were if you were good, and if you were not you don't really want to remind them that. They were not bad, but not great either... just all right. Q and not U... I mean, Georgie James... you see it's confusing me already. Anyway, Georgie James' indie pop was effective to me while it sounded, but forgettable right after. Especially knowing that right after Professor Murder was going to take the stage...

So this is CMJ, right? and CMJ is about new music, right? Out of all the bands that I already knew their music who were playing this week, Professor Murder and Islands were the only ones in my list that took seriously CMJ for what it is for, previewing new music. Michael Bell-Smith, the one below with the gym whistle hanging from his neck, announced the show was called Professor Murder tries new material, and he was serious. The only old song they played, Free Stress Test, was the one they use to close their set to have their old time fans happy, but for the rest of the time previewd new song hitting toms, cowbells, tambourines, drums and played bass, keyboards and a drum machine covering big ground in such a small time without feeling in a rush or overambitious.

People three rows towards the back were barely moving so I guess they hadn't experienced a Professor show before. I hope they liked it. I did and enjoyed the new material, especially the killer Dutch Hex that live kicked ass as much as when I heard it for the first time three months ago. So, when is the album coming out?

I was ready to go to Brooklyn Vegan after party (with Professor Murder's three guys playing as King Oppression), but the concert goers I met wanted to check out The Harlem Shakes, so I stayed for a bit. Although didn't listen to the whole set for stepping in and out trying to buy a t-shirt and a drink, what I heard was pretty good, particularly the singer with an interesting high hoarse voice, and the guitarist's energy. They had a big crowd of fans and they semt to be happy with the effect their songs were having on them. I'll give them a shot another day again...

But I wanted more Professor Murder... I've never have enough of them. Their Rides the Subway EP is short, but fantastic, so I play it severeal times consecutively. Their live show is short too, of course, they only have one EP and like three or four new songs. So when BV announced he was having an unofficial CMJ after party with King Oppression (three guys out of four from Professor Murder) playing different versions of Professor Murder material, I could not miss out. The party was excellent, including a guy called David Sugar, King Oppression and Brooklyn Vegan himself just by walking around...

I hope you had a happy CMJ! I know once I have enough rest I am gonna miss it... until 2008. [photos of the show]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: Saturday Looks Good to Me / Islands @ R-Bar, Cool Kids / M.I.A. @ Terminal 5, Band of Horses @ Gramercy Theatre - 10/19/07

Bamboo Banga

My energy is almost gone. It gets tougher and tougher to appreciate bands that don't really give it back to me. I went to the Brooklyn Vegan free shows in the late afternoon at R-Bar to see Islands before going to M.I.A., but I was forced to see Saturday Looks Good to Me first cause they were running late. They were not really good. I mean, they were fine, but not really anything to remember. They have two singers, a guy and a girl, and if you hear them you can tell me if you agree that the girl should sing more... that was the only real interesting sound I picked up from them. For the rest, they were the kind of band not really transmitting any sort of energy to me and instead taking it away. It's then when you wonder if you are going to too many shows and getting tired for no reason...

.. but then Islands came on to take that wonder away... it's never too many shows. I know of Islands because of a good album they released in 2006, Return to the Sea. I sometimes listened to it, by recommendation, although it didn't really click on me, but now after seeing them live and hearing the great stuff they have ready for their new album I am looking forward to keep checking them out. I am not good for accents but while seeing them, I don't know why, I though they had to be Canadian... Wikipedia is confirming so. Maybe because they sounded to me like a way better Hot Hot Heat. An energetic front man, funny guys in the violins and keyboards, good saxophone and an interesting guest dropping verses for a song pumped me up and got me right on track to keep up with the day:

It was my first time at the new venue Terminal 5. It might be as big as Roseland Ballroom, which I try to avoid, but it doesn't feel like it. The venue has three floors and the view from each floor, from the balconies, is not bad at all. Sound was also good enough for me, so in general no complains from this side... maybe the location, in the middle of nowhere (56th St and almost the Hudson river). I saw the Cool Kids from the balconies opening for M.I.A.. I can count with my hand fingers the number of hip hop acts I've enjoyed live since I became a concert goer and these guys are not one of them. I dig their recorded stuff, but live they were merely OK. Still this video (and song) kicks ass...

And then, after painful 45 minutes, the place exploded with Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A..Last time I missed out with M.I.A. tickets for her Studio B show I regretted it for long, so when I saw that she was going to play CMJ I didn't care the show was going to be at a bigger venue. Kala is one of my contenders for album of the year and last night M.I.A. held the guns up for it. M.I.A.'s music is so diverse and has so many influences that is no wonder why the place was packed with real people: Black people, Hispanos, Chineses, Skaters, Suites, White people, gays, lesbians, and straights. It felt like a world party, and in fact I think that M.I.A. is pretty much like a modern world music ready to take over.

After a funny speech on video from an Asian guy talking about destroying the government, that was way too long, the set started with the song it had to start with: Bamboo Banga. That track opens Kala and it is such a banger that it was the perfect choice to make everybody meltdown together right from the beginning, and it worked... the floor bounced for the first time out of too many I didn't count. M.I.A. came out, after Cherry, her backup singer, looking gorgeous in one of her crazy looking outfits. She soon wore her symbolic hat... ready to command the party ship:

We got all the hits, and by that I mean all of her songs, plus some nice samplings. From Arular we had Pull Up the People, Bucky Done Gun, Amazon, 10 Dollar, Sunshowers, and of course the one everybody goes crazy for, including myself, Galang. Kala sounded strong in the house too with Bamboo Banga, Bird Flu, Boyz, Jimmy, Hussel (with Afrikan Boy), $20 and Paper Planes (did she play World Town and XR2? I'm not sure). Besides covering Pixies' Where Is My Mind, M.I.A. this time nicely sampled the classic Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams right before 10 Dollar and the ultra-classic New Order's Blue Monday to introduce Jimmy and new comer Lil Mama's Lip Gloss right before Galang. I was sold.

I planned not to write much stuff this week cause it's already demanding just going to so many shows but I can't stop with this one. Bird Flu was fantastic. She invited everybody on stage, something I knew it was going to happen, but what I didn't know is that I was going to be so pumped up to want to make my way to the front and swing it for her on stage like forty some more. When she finished with Galang everybody was soaked and though we were ready to call it a night, a couple more songs didn't hurt. In fact, the encore ruled. She did Amazon and it was kind of funny... she only sang Helloooo this is M.I.A.... would you please come and get me and never Helloooo this is M.I.A.... it's ok if you forgot me... because there's no way someone could that night.


That was supposed to be my CMJ Day 4, but M.I.A. gave me so much energy that I was ready to keep hitting shows. We tried A Place to Bury Strangers but got to Galapagos too late and then we headed to Band of Horses playing a show for CMJ badge holders and guest list only. We don't have a badge, we were not on the guest list, but we made it in anyway... yes, we rule.

I saw Band of Horses playing one of the best shows I've seen being played by them. Ben Bridwell was on top with his voice as he hadn't been before and look surprisingly in a good mood given that that most of the attendees were a bunch of assholes. I am sorry but I don't understand all you CMJ holders, as music fans, how you go to these exclusive shows to waste the feet square you are occupying with your presence there... please go to the bar across the street and chat with your buddies there! I bet it would be less annoying for you (and hence for me, as a music fan) not to hear the band meanwhile. Jeez. Anyway, Band Of Horses was excellent and the perfect way of calming down the night to send us back home to dream.

Ok. I am ready for CMJ Day 5, the last one. [photos of the show]

Links: Stream M.I.A. - Kala, Stream Band of Horses - Everything All the Time

Friday, October 19, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: Foreign Islands / Project Jenny, Project Jan @ Hiro, SMD @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, NYPC @ Studio B - 10/18/07


CMJ Day 3 main attractions didn't happen in Manhattan last night... everybody was in Brooklyn. If you are having a showcase during this week, and several more labels are doing the same, the same day and at the same times with more buzzed names than your bands you better have something else to attract more eardrums... like free cover, free food and more importantly... open bar.

Last night the AM Only showcase made me stop by Hiro Ballroom to have the first free beers of the night and meanwhile check out a couple of bands, Foreign Islands and Project Jenny, Project Jan. Foreign Islands were plain boring to me and didn't even bother taking a picture. Sorry. But ProjectJ was a completely different story. I am not gonna lie, I had listened to their debut album XOXOXOXOXO before so I wasn't unfamiliar with the band, but last night the electro-tropical-hip-pop mix that they are impressed me and live made me a new fan. I left that place with one more CD for my collection...

The last song ProjectJ played had a lot of soul in it, and by soul I don't mean the genre but actual soul. ProjectJ are from Brooklyn, and with their great song Brooklyn they reminded me that the rest of my night was across the East River and that I better got going... Simian Mobile Disco was waiting for me.

SMD were excellent, but not as much as I thought they were going to be. I think they are the most original new dance act this year (yes, even over Justice who are just too similar to Daft Punk and I still have Daft Punk so don't need another one) and their debut album makes me move my legs every time I play it on my stereo, but something was missing last night. Maybe I am starting to get tired of seeing so many bands in a short period of time, or maybe not. Simian Mobile had a nice setup on stage with the two guys moving around their machines dynamically, even though one of them had still a collar bone injury... they reminded me a lot of Chemical Brothers during their Block Rockin' Beats era, looking very nerdy while banging their heads... we followed. Highlights of the show for me were a remix of a Go! Team song, It's the Beat, another remix this time of Klaxons, and the spectacular Hustler, arguably the best dance track this year. Anyway, I danced, danced, danced, and danced, because you know why? that's what my daddy's made me...

But the winner of my night was New Young Pony Club, and especially her front girl. She smells like girl power all over. Her name is Tahita Bulmer, my new best front member of a band after James Murphy. She takes the mic, look at you, and before you realize she owns your attention... I didn't see anyone chatting, texting or talking to their neighbors, but just staring at her persona when not joining the masses for some sweaty get togethers. Besides, their drummer is a lady too, an a good one. Oh I almost forgot... the BEST moment of the show was by far when they played tribute to the techno anthem Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic. That shit hadn't sounded so good before.

NYPC released their debut album, Fantastic Playroom, in the States this year and while listening and dancing to Tahita's request I wished they were selling it right there to take it home with me. Unfortunately not. Gotta go to the record store...

The party continued with a DJ set by Simian Mobile Disco (only one of them actually), and I stayed for some good thirty minutes, but I was exhausted... there are still two more days to come, and long ones. [photos of the show]

Links: Stream Project Jenny, Project Jan - XOXOXOXOXO

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: White Williams / No Age / Dan Deacon / Deerhunter @ Bowery Ballroom, 10/17/07

Dan Deacon is a tough act to follow

I don't even know how to start. I'd been staring at the computer screen trying to find a way to start describing how incredible last night's spectacle and music was for so long that it is appropriate to start just saying so. The planets aligned up last night to have the most stellar line up of any possible CMJ show this week, in my opinion... there was absolutely no mediocre band in the house.

The night started for me when White Williams slowly got us warmed with his tunes gorgeously overloaded with bass... so much delicious bass. No wonder why Dan Deacon and Girl Talk decided to bring him on the road with them for their last tour. The kid (23 y.o.) needs to learn how to dance to his own music... umhh or maybe it sounds with a different beat in his head. Anyway, his album is not even out yet and he definitely got my attention...

The room suddenly got packed... No Age was next. I've enjoyed No Age's Weirdo Rippers in small doses because punk/noise/etc are not the kind of music I easily digest, but last night the word "fun" was added to their sound and that might change the way I listen to their stuff. Good and so much energy for just a couple of guys hitting the drums and one guitar...

But the protagonists of the night hadn't started yet. First, Dan "Madness" Deacon. I like his Spiderman of the Rings a lot, but live... oh man, quite a sweaty experience. Most of his songs live also get the re-work treatment, cause I wasn't able to identify many of them but just some of their parts, except Wham City, which is definitely one of the best songs this fine 2007 and it became an anthem last night with everybody singing it (with lyrics in hand or not)... everybody lost their shit right there. Even before the music started it was hard to stand... everybody was already pushing around to get closer to the man, who plays (well, presses buttons, pedals and stuff) at the same level as his fans, so only a few actually can get to "see" Dan Deacon perform. But you don't need to see him... he has a fucking awesome symbol that glows with his music and will keep you entertained...

... and Deerhunter. They knew it was hard to play after Dan Deacon. This was not the first time, but tonight felt differently... Bradford really meant it when he said "Deacon is a tough act to follow" and then told us they were going to bring us down for a while. However, Deerhunter was definitely the best ones tonight, musically speaking. I don't need the sweat and the dancing to transport me and no songs tonight, except maybe Wham City, could do it better than Hazel St., Spring Hall Convert, Cryptograms, Wash Off, Dr. Glass, Octet and Fluorescent Grey, among others.

I was expecting acts like Deerhunter and Dan Deacon to play some new music since their albums have been out now for a while, they have been touring constantly and pretty much everybody knows them now, and this is CMJ you know? That fairly happened. I was not impressed, except for the fun, with the new Deacon's songs, but I fall in love instantly with the only new Deerhunter song they played last night, which happened to be the first one in the set. Really really really good...

We are going to keep hearing (and talking) about Deerhunter and particularly not about Bradford's dresses, erections, or meltdowns, but about the outstanding music the band is creating. Believe the hype if you haven't checked it by yourself, Cryptograms, Fluorescent Grey and the whole Deerhunter deserves us. [photos of the show]

Links: Stream Deerhunter - Cyrptograms, Stream Deerhunter - Fluorescent Grey, Stream Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Curtains On does CMJ 2007: Voxtrot / The Rosebuds / Dean & Britta / The Most Serene Republic / The Shaky Hands / Bon Iver @ Bowery Ballroom, 10/16/07

Thanks to Brooklyn Vegan for organizing such a surprisingly awesome kick-off night for one more CMJ to remember.

The week couldn't have started better... Bon Iver's set was mesmerizing and I will regret (for a couple of months at least) not having cash with me to buy their debut album For Emma, Forever Ago (but we can stream it meanwhile). He sings very high and has quite a voice to make it sound unforgettable.

Bon Iver

Then the quality decreased, or originality let's say. I saw next The Shaky Hands who sounded too often to me like a rip off version of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The waiting without much enjoyment made me hungry...

The Shaky Hands

Another surprise of the night was The Most Serene Republic. I had heard good things about their new album, Population, but hadn't had the time to check it out. People who has heard the new Dirty Projectors, Rise Above, for which everybody is going nuts about, that thinks is a bit annoying (like me!) could find a less suffocating effort with these guys. I did like TMSR and I think they can get potentially better. In fact, they will be better. A band to watch out for:

The Most Serene Republic

By this time I was really hungry. I mean, thanks BV, but who organizes a showcase for six hours with no re-entry and no food inside? Beers and Gins were all I could have, but of course it made it worse. Dean & Britta's weak set couldn't help... except a couple of songs towards the end of their set, they were just plain boring...

Dean & Britta

Time passed quickly fortunately, and it was pretty much because of my expectations for seeing The Rosebuds for the first time. I like their new album and its sound promised some dancing for the night. The Rosebuds had lots energy for being just three people on stage and easily overshadowed the previous bands, except Mr. Iver. By this time I had met more friends and had money to buy their new CD but they were not selling it. I couldn't believe it. CMJ, showcases, promoting new music and stuff and you don't bring your albums to sell them? Ok. I'll get it throught eBay for cheap then...

The Rosebuds

I was ready to go to a different show, but Voxtrot unexpectedly caught my attention. I have a couple of their EPs and even though they sound quite catchy sometimes they never got me interested enough to pay to see them live, so last night I took it sort of like a bonus track. Quite a good bonus track... no complains here. Maybe it's time to listen to those EPs again...


So I would say that the winner of the night, with respect to new music to my ears (that's what CMJ is all about, right?), was Bon Iver, but The Rosebuds were excellent and Voxtrot great. I'm gonna take a nap and get ready for CMJ Day 2... certainly the biggest day this week. [photos of the show]

Links: Stream Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago, Stream The Rosebuds - Night of the Furies, Stream The Most Serene Republic - Population, Stream Dean & Britta - Back Numbers