Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

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CMJ Closing

Posted by xneverwherex on November 6, 2006

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Dave & Pete - Birdmonster

Dave & Pete – Birdmonster,
originally uploaded by xneverwherex.

11/4/06
The Annex – Brooklyn Vegan Show – Takka Takka, White Whale
Sin-E – Underrated Show – Birdmonster, Ra Ra Riot, Division Day, The Head Set

Well CMJ came to a close on Saturday, but there were enough shows to keep someone busy all day. I ended up only going to see the day-shows as I just was exhausted from about 20 shows in 4 days. It was rough! But there were no complaints, as I had an amazing time.

Showed up at The Annex just around noon on Saturday morning. It was definitely an interesting experience seeing this club in the light of day. Most people showed up, looking half asleep and/or hungover, with lots of coffee. There were free sparks to definitely help wake up the crowd, and it was needed.

Takka Takka started off the morning. I must say, from the stuff I had heard I was not a big fan, but after seeing them live, it changed my mind. It was a perfect way for the morning to begin, with great melodies, and just a calmness to their whole set. The music all fit together really well, and the band performed a very solid set. It was enough to make me want to go see them again.

Next up was White Whale. I really liked their stuff, but for me it was a bit too loud for 1pm. I’m not sure my body was entirely awake, and the crowd was near packed at this point. It was hard to see at points, and I just found myself thinking about other things. Its definitely a band I’d need to see again, hopefully a bit later.

After a short stroll over to Sin-E, I was on for the best day of CMJ. While neither of these were actually CMJ shows, they still honored CMJ badges, so I’ll call them CMJ shows. Hannah and I arrived at Sin-E, to see the guys of Birdmonster hanging out outside the venue. Friendly as always, they seemed excited. We walked in to catch a handful of songs from The Head Set. The Head Set are a very pop-friendly band, and reminded me at times of U2. Soaring guitars, and great melodies. And what seemed like big songs. It was easy to get into their music. I really wish I had gotten to see more of their set, but that will have to wait for another time. Luckily for me they are NYC band.

Next up – Division Day. I was really excited to see Division Day, as the first time I saw Birdmonster one of the band members was wearing one of their shirts. I had noticed that the two of them play together quite frequently. So, I figured if Birdmonster were big fans of Division Day, I would be one too. And so right I was. The music was easy to get into, and with Pete up front cheering on the guys with such enthusiasm, it was hard to not be enthusiastic with him. They sound very indie pop and could easily be one of the new next big things. Pete joined them for a song onstage helping out with the drums, and it was fun to see everyone jam together.

After that was Ra Ra Riot. I had missed them the night before. The band consists of a violinst and cellist which is pretty cool. They really get into the music and their sound is a nice change from all the other pop. It stands out, and they are talented. Fun, pop music, it was hard not to start dancing. Their cover of “Hounds of Love” from Kate Bush, which also was recently covered by the Futureheads, but the Futureheads version to same. With all the other instruments the song is just beautiful. Granted, The Futureheads do have absolute incredible harmonies on that song, so they are each equally good. I cant wait to see them again.

And finally was Birdmonster. I had spoken with Pete before his set, telling him I had seen him the prior night, and how great the band was. Also was hoping that on a trip to SF, I might be able to see them in their hometown. Its looking very unlikely. Birdmonster is like a huge ball of energy, that just gets bigger and bigger until it has to break and the energy comes flying out at high speeds, full of emotion and intensity. And this describes the band to a tee. The guys have such a great time on stage together, in any picture one sees of them, they always have huge smiles. Its nice to see a band thats really happy to be playing and love what they do. Their set was beyond amazing, and Pete sounded great as always, while Dave was incredible on guitar, Justin solid on bass, and Zach excellent on the drums. Dave really rocked out on the guitar, so into the music feeding off of Justin and Pete’s energy.

All in all, this was by far the best set that I had seen. All the bands were so excited to be playing with each other, that it was a perfect line up.

Which means- how can I afford another trip to SF to see them on NYE?

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The Thermals/Birdmonster ROCK CMJ

Posted by xneverwherex on November 6, 2006

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11/3/06 – Birdmonster, Sam Champion, The Thermals – Studio B, Brooklyn, NY

Well this wasn’t an official CMJ show, but regardless the bands playing on Friday night ROCKED! I got to the club way out in Greenpoint fairly late on Friday night. Was waiting for my friend Hannah to show up in NYC, but unfortunately her bus broke down and she wouldnt arrive till after 11:30 pm. Which is the real bad news.

The good news is, I saw a portion of Birdmonster’s set and they tore it up! As always they were in fine fashion, and as noted in the pic, Pete had on his huge trademark smile. The band always seems so happy to be playing. On the final song, which I don’t even remember at this point, they brought up someone else (I’m guessing the guy was in another band) and him and Justin went crazy on the cymbals. It was so cool watching as they hammered away, cymbals flying through the air. And perhaps its fitting that a band named birdmonster ended with lots of things flying. One of the highlights of CMJ.

Next up was Sam Champion. While Im not one who likes to rip apart a band, I just could not get into the band. I really felt that they were lacking on energy, and following up after Birdmonster, it was a bit of a let down. They do have some catchy pop sounding songs, but nothing stood out in my mind.

It was a good thing that I didn’t leave after that, because the amazing Thermals would come up next. Hutch Harris, lead singer and guitarist of The Thermals is nothing but amazing. His piercing eyes, feel like electricity are racing through them as he plays his songs insanely fast, with a pop-punk sound. He gets so into the music, he is amazing to watch as is the rest of the band. The band goes crazy with each song, each one getting faster and more out of control than the prior one. Hutch was flying around the stage, bouncing all over the place, while the crowd was just a rush of people, bouncing, pushing, singing into one another. The set was quite short, but they did play a full 11- or 13 set song. With songs as quick and short as that, it’d have been fun to see them play a bit longer. But the band was truely wiped out by the end of the set, with Hutch’s shirt and face dripping with sweat.

This was by far the surprise of the night. Unfortunately, due to time I didn’t stay around to catch the Horrors, but I’m sure their set would have been just as great. At least one would like to hope.

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CMJ – A week of music INSANITY

Posted by xneverwherex on November 2, 2006

Rules for the wise (and no, I didn’t comply with any on round 1).

1. Do NOT drink! -besides the cost that might make you broke, it could be a lot longer of a night than expected. and being drunk when theres 5 more bands to go, is not a good thing.

2. Expect the unexpected.  – I showed up so early, I ended up seeing some band Extra Blue Kind, and they were AWESOME! I was also the ONLY one there. I also ended up getting an invite from someone at the label to go to a party! wahoo!

3. Have a back-up plan/schedule. If you really need to see one band, you might be missing out on a few others if your schedule is too tight.

4. Bring lots of money, if you want CDs, merch, etc.

5. Bring a camera.

6. EARPLUGS, EARPLUGS, EARPLUGS! – do not leave home without them. There are probably a ton of other shows you will be going to, you dont want ringing ears after your first show. 

7. Most importantly, have fun!

Night 1:

i showed up insanely early. i have no clue how i ended up getting there so early, but i caught an early show. and i was the ONLY one at the show. the band was really f’ing good. called extra blue kind. i met two other people there, who worked for the label and got invited to a party tonight. they really want me to show up tonight, because theres free food. LOL. so i might. the band was excited i had come. that was interesting.  check them out. by far the best band i saw last night. and the one i had no clue about. just randomness! welcome to CMJ.

then — i had like 30 mins to kill. so i went up to the bar. and man its bad to drink on an empty stomach. i got pretty trashed but the drinks were good. id have drank all night talking to the bartender, but then id have been crawling home. the bartender was pretty cool. he was telling me how he was moving to LA, went to UCLA, and we were talking about the music scene out there. and how it was when we were in college. he was surprised when i said i graduated in 1996. he made the comment , oh my god i was still in high school. i said ‘ god damn, now i feel really old’.

so then the first band came on. met some chick at the show who was really into them. chris garneau. i guess it was just the singer, but he has a full band backing him up. playing everything from the cello, keyboards, and other random instruments. it was a very mellow set, but great music. the band seemed pretty excited to be there.

then next up was some girl/guy pairing. that was interesting. i couldnt really get into their music. was again, very mellow. and both of them sang. apparently they were asked last minute to play a short set, and they hadnt played in over a year. no clue who they were, as they never formally introduced themselves. a pet peeve of mine – when musicians/bands play, say your name a few times. We’d like to remember you, and when seeing a ton of bands, we may not remember each and every band who is playing.

then finally – back to the bands i wanted to see. first the affair. that was an awesome set. the lead singer reminded me of blondie. she had this incredible voice and was really into it. Dancing the entire time, talking to the crowd, her excitement of being there shined through. Surprisingly enough, they were from New York, which I had no idea. Very indie/rock music. Another woman played the keyboards, and 3 guys made up the rest of the band. The whole band seemed to feed off each other, which made it all the better. They should have played a lot longer.

Then my final show – because everything was running over an hour later than was expected. a 9:30 show started close to 11pm and there were still 2 more bands after that one. or possibly one. i have no clue, as it wasnt really said why someone was added, but no mention anywhere. So Get Him Eat Him was last. Now this is who I really wanted to see. And from their songs I had heard I was hoping for some really catchy indie pop music ala Weezer. Stuff to dance to, sing along with, but hearing them live was a different story. They just didnt have that pop vibe to them, which meant some of that catchiness that drew me to them was long gone. The guys were entertaining – making jokes only fitting for CMJ. The comment – well I guess you guys were the ones who couldnt get into the Knife show. No one said a thing, no laughs, guffaws, nada. Clearly a lot of the crowd were big followers, or just friends of the band, as they dedicated a song to a friend of theirs. A lot of people were coming in/out of the show, and seemed unimpressed. The guitarist, in gym shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt, definitely stood out.

I think at any one time the most R&R had were 30-40 people. Some bands had hardly anyone out there, and at times i felt bad. R&R should be the next hot spot for bands to play. An amazing club in the meatpacking district. Has that swanky feeling, of this new modern/posh bar/club, but the clientele is anything but. I guess its more the indie/hipster scene. It has cube chairs all around. and then lots of tables/couches with mirrors in the different rooms. the stage for the bands is similar to the mercury but an even higher stage. they have their own backroom for all their instruments, and it has this cool curtain they close after each set. the drinks are typical prices for that area, meaning to steep for my blood. its a good thing i didnt stay at the bar, if so id have been begging the bartender for free drinks.

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The Rapture/Presets

Posted by xneverwherex on October 31, 2006

10/30/06 – Webster Hall with Luke

Luke and I saw the presets (who on myspace i didnt care for) and the rapture. the presets were easily the highlight of the night. the boys were so terribly cute, and aussie 🙂 they had adorable accents, but what i really liked was the energy on the stage. they were so into the show and clearly were having the best time. it was awesome. i mean the energy radiated through the crowd. in ways it reminded me of the guys in the jaxx. one of them was all over the stage, dancing, singing, walking to the edge of the stage where you could just nearly touch him. the drummer was awesome, and also having a great time. they really pumped up the crowd for the rapture, which is what any opening band should do. and they clearly acknowledged how psyched they were to be playing with them. always awesome! So they bring the crowd to this soaring high, everyone dancing, getting really into music.

So The Rapture comes on nearly 30 mins later. And while they were not necessarily bad, they just didnt have the same energy as the presets. The guys looked so terribly young, and it just seemed a bit awkward for them. The bassist needs a bit of help. The sax was so terribly out-of-tune it was awful. And I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to sound that bad, but I sure hope not. The lead guitar just didn’t seem to fit in. As a whole the band didn’t seem to fit together. While some of the songs were definitely catchy and the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, there was just something missing. It seemed the band themselves didn’t feed off of each other’s energy. And energy is something that was really needed. Needless to say about 30-40 mins into the set I went off wandering to another bar in Webster Hall. They were playing better music down there than the show itself. Not long after the crowd started seeping in downstairs. What was more disappointing – while the show was not cheap – the show was barely an hour long. I guess I expect more from bands when I am paying the bigger bucks. Would I recommend them, not in the least. Now the Presets on the other hand. A definite go-see! They are making The Rapture better then they are.

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Shoot The Runner

Posted by xneverwherex on September 21, 2006

9/20/05 – Webster Hall – Kasabian, Mew and Onethousand Pictures

First off – let me just start by saying that each show I go to, gets better than the previous. I was sooooo convinced that nothing would live up to Starsailor. Boy, was I ever wrong. So, I arrived at Webster Hall later than I wanted to. 8:20 give or take, and One Thousand Pictures were on the stage. At this point, one of the guys in the band decides its joke time. Im thinking WTF. And he goes on to say how its his first time in NY, and he tells the crowd to sing along with him. He starts naturally singing ‘New York, NY’ from Frank Sinatra. Well dont ask me about this crowd, but no one did a thing. So he was getting irritated, and stopped his Sinatra renditions. OneThousand Pictures are from San Diego, CA and proud of it you can tell. I love my California boys, and they did not disappoint. Their music was catchy and they loved to talk it up with the crowd. I guess you could call them another one of those indie-pop bands, which would describe them. You could easily get into their music, as it was very attainable for the masses. I only caught about 15-20 mins. of their set, and was very disappointed (in myself obviously).

 Next up – Mew – I’d like to start by telling the people standing next to me, if you feel the need to sit all the time, at a sold-out show, go to the f’ing back of the room. And to complain about how much standing – c’mon, now! And enough of the high-school non-funniness of pushing yourself into me. I was not amused. And then acting like you didn’t know who did it. I did meet some interesting people who were placing bets on something (never figured that out) and the Asian girl next to me, who was so nice.

Anyway, I really didn’t know much about Mew. I tried to listen to their stuff on myspace at work, and it just wasnt grabbing me. The volume was low, so maybe that was the problem. Mew blew me away. A band from Denmark, the lead singer has a quality voice. He can hit such high notes, and his voice is never off-key, out of tune. Not that I am any Simon Cowell, far from it. But you know a great lead singer when you hear one. The music was great. Long, droning guitars, reminded me of a shoe-gaze band, mixed in with a bit of indie-pop. It was so easy to get lost in their music, and just feel it resonate in your body. I wouldn’t know a single song they sang, but I am definitely addicted! The band seemed friendly and so excited to be playing. Which is always such a great thing to see. I think they played just under an hour, but should have kept going.

Next up – KASABIAN!

Wow! Wow! I think I finally understand the hype of Kasabian, and they definitely gear their music to huge stadiums. You would have thought they were playing a huge set, which works with me. And listening to their first album- they clearly have a lot of anthem songs. So the set opens with “Shoot The Runner”, and the crowd is in love. Dancing up a storm. Tom is an incredible front man, all ready for the crowd to start rocking, telling everyone to get their hands in the air. Serge is an amazing guitarist. They feed well off of each other which made the night fly by. Some of the songs seemed to go on which was nice. Tom really plays it up for the crowd. Getting everyone to dance, sing along more often than not, and a light show that clearly works at stadium shows. It all worked incredibly well, I just wonder if next time I’m doomed to seeing them at a huge stadium. Tom came by after he finished, shaking people’s hands in the front row. And Tom clearly loves to dance. Most of the songs he was on the stage dancing his ass off, having a better time than the crowd. I wish I had taken more photos, but with the intensity of the show, it was near impossible to take so many, dancing around, and what not. At nearly just over an hour, and ending with Clubfoot (well I think), I wished they had kept going. There was no encore.

Either way, excellent show, and I can’t wait to see Kasabian again!

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New York Skyline header pic

Posted by xneverwherex on August 23, 2006

Before anyone starts to question where I got that top picture, it is one of my own. I have cropped it, taking out the Hudson River, leaving just the gorgeous New York skyline. So many more I will have to put up. Im turning into a picture taking whore. Oh god – my mom will be so proud of what I’m writing on here. Its all a joke!

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