The downside of CMJ is that it combines the two worst parts of shows- the in-between breakdown and set-up, and nothing starting on time.
DRESSY BESSY @ Lincoln Center Day Stage. The Day Stage seemed like a good change to see bands that you wouldn’t get to otherwise. Unfortunately, “Avery Fisher Hall Promenade” translates into “The Hallway Outside The Auditorium.” So right off, there’s a strike against the space- it looks like the band is playing in a shopping mall. Dressy Bessy brought out a handful of diehards who mixed with the curious and those just wandering by. Tammy Ealom did her best to get the crowd going, but it’s hard to be very rock n’ roll at 1 pm. The harsh light of day called undue attention to the band members’ ages… it looks like they’re outgrowing their poppy youthful sound. Dressy Bessy had the bad luck of having a great song on the soundtrack to a movie nearly no one saw. That is, “If You Should Try To Kiss Her,” which was featured in the movie But I’m A Cheerleader. Their loose affiliation with The Elephant 6 collective came too late to give them much of a boost, and the fact that they’re playing CMJ six years after what could’ve been their breakout album came out doesn’t bode well for the band. Personally, I thought they played a great set considering the fact that, as Ealom put it, “We’re all still hungover.”
WE ARE SCIENTISTS @ 175 Orchard St. Singer and guitarist Keith Murray is a pretty good-looking guy, and until they start playing, it’s easy to think that this band might suffer from Gavin Rossdale syndrome. They don’t. What they do is kick ass. The appropriately-named drummer Michael Tapper provides beats that shake your rump for you, and although Chris Cain looks like a high school physics teacher from 1974, he plays the kind of lead bass that John Entwistle might’ve had The Who been a disco band. While it’s clear that these guys grew up in the 80’s, they aren’t the kind of band you hear and immediately think of another. The only downside to their set was that it wasn’t longer.
HOLOPAW @ Bowery Ballroom. As enjoyable as their new album is, Holopaw’s live show failed to inspire. Onstage, they conjure the likes of James and Midnight Oil, playing competent re-creations of their mid-tempo rock. Without any real dynamic shifts, changes in mood, or new arrangements, the songs all sort of blended into one another. They started their set with “Losing Light,” though, so it wasn’t all bad. Not bad- just not exciting.
THE GIRAFFES @ Pussycat Lounge. “We’re here to win over the industry,” said singer Aaron Lazar with a smirk, right before the band tore into their set. Halfway through the first song, the fifth of Jim Beam he’d been keeping in his back pocket was down the front of his pants. They combine the raw weight of Black Sabbath’s riffs with the cocksure swagger of Robert Plant, but seem to take themselves about as seriously as The Butthole Surfers. In fact, Lazar’s mustache recalls Gibby Haynes. Like Soundgarden might’ve sounded if all their songs were about wanting to fuck you. The Giraffes are squarely in the camp who think that there are two things to do if you’re in a band: rock and get laid. Holy shit, did they rock.
Lazar stepped off stage to serenade a fan.
This is the kind of show where you’re afraid of getting something thrown at you from the stage. Damien Paris shreds the fuck up while Aaron Lazar swings his mic stand wildly.
BLUES EXPLOSION @ Pussycat Lounge. Jon Spencer is a truly great guitarist and showman. The Blues Explosion always play a great set, and Saturday night was no exception. Following the shocking newness of The Giraffes, The Blues Explosion struck me as a little bit same-old, same-old. though it’s always a treat to see Spencer create an Elvis Presley sneer by hanging his lip off his microphone, which he had clearly brought with him.
WOLF PARADE @ Bowery Ballroom. The crowd at Bowery went absolutely NUTS for these guys. They sport an eclectic sound and hail from Montreal, but Wolf Parade have little else in common with last year’s CMJ breakout band Arcade Fire. It seems like each of the 5 members are in a different band all together. By the end of their set, the band was starting to make more sense to me, but I have to say, when they first started playing to the very enthusiastic crowd, I was thinking, “I just don’t get it” and feeling really old.