CMJ was an exhausting but amazing mess of a week. Be it at SXSW or any other large festival I always try to see as many unknown (to me) bands/artists as possible. So I skipped out on the million Surfer Blood/Local Natives/The Drums shows in order to keep an eye out on the next great sound for you the reader. WLFY threw an epic all day party at Pianos the day after CMJ and none of the bands who played that show will be included since they all “won” CMJ in my mind. (a full post about that show will be up soon). So, without further ado, here are the WLFY winners of CMJ:
The Best Live Performance: GOBBLE GOBBLE
Without a doubt the best show I caught at CMJ was the Canadian electro band Gobble Gobble. The music is smart, catchy, and extremely danceable. The live show has an unexplainable energy that culminated in me having one of the best times I’ve ever had at a show. The only other live show I can compare it to is Dan Deacon, who has previously blown my mind a few times. Toward the end, the entire crowd began jumping up and down in rhythm and a girl’s high heel came down on my big toe. The pain radiated throughout my body. I paused, but then the liquor consumed all day and the pure love that was radiating from the speakers took all the pain away and I continued to jump. I’ve never been to a show where I smiled from start to finish…that is until CMJ, when I saw one of my new favorite bands: GOBBLE GOBBLE.
Biggest Surprise: Highlife
The first live music I saw, fresh off the plane, was Highlife at a small bar called Bruar Falls. I was there to see Sharon Van Etten (who had an incredible set), but was blown away by the beauty and unique approach to music that London’s Highlife supplied. After the show I went and listened to his recorded material and was a little disappointed that the tracks have way to much production thrown in, where his live show is just all about his amazing voice and pure talent. I caught Highlife again at #offline fest where his set was cut short due to time and he stood up without an instrument or mic and belted out a song. It was one of the most moving moments of CMJ.
Best Venue: Pianos
Pianos ended up being my headquarters for CMJ due to it’s superior sound, staff, food, and drink specials. They just can’t be beat. The sound guys were pushy at times, but only because they cared about getting the best sound possible…and I saw multiple repeat performances (Baths, Sunglasses) and they sounded much better at Pianos. Five dollar hamburger/fries, 3 dollar beers for the majority of CMJ, it was heaven. Pianos, I love you.
Best Showcase: (tie)
IGIF Floating Fest (@ Pianos 10/21)
The key to any of these sprawling festivals is to find a showcase in one location that offers up amazing bands one after another. IGIF gave us that in Young The Giant, Blackbird/Blackbird, Foxes In Fiction, Beach Fossils, Teen Daze, Baths, and many more. The IGIF guys are top notch bloggers and have great taste in music…it showed at Floating Fest.
#Offline (@ Brooklyn Bowl 10/23)
A lot of people would say that #offline had the best show simply for flexing their muscles and pulling Kanye out of a hat last minute. Seeing Kanye has nothing do with them having one of the best shows of CMJ. First off the line up was amazing: Highlife, Javelin, Cults, Ty Segall, Titus, Matthew Dear, and the Fool’s Gold party. That’s one hell of a show no matter how you cut it. The most impressive thing was how the show never felt like it was trying to rebel against CMJ, in fact it felt like a great compliment to the amazing bands CMJ brought to new York for that week. As stated above, it’s nice to camp out in one place for a series of hours…which #offline could provide. Three negatives would be the comically awful Diamond Rings performance, the sound of bowling taking me out of the musical moment at times, and how Jersey Shore the crowd became after the Kanye news broke. All that aside, we know how hard WLFY is on Pitchfork, but #offline, specifically during the day was definitely one of my favorite times at CMJ.
Ten Other Amazing CMJ Performances
Young The Giant (Pianos)
Sharon Van Etten (Bruar Falls)
Dent May (Cake Shop)
The Pomegranates (Pianos)
Cults (Brooklyn Bowl)
Royal Bangs (Santos Party House)
Javelin (Brooklyn Bowl)
Foxes In Fiction (Pianos)
Sunglasses (The Delancy)