NEW YORK — Well, we’re past the halfway point of the 2009 CMJ Music Marathon, and Thursday night was marked by good and bad surprises.
Kicking things off was Via Tania, who channeled Bjork, Feist and PJ Harvey for her set at Le Poisson Rouge. The native Australian began her set armed with a ukulele, and later switched to an electric guitar to showcase heavier material “" while simultaneously manning a keyboard and, at one point, a tape recorder around her neck. Her breathy vocals were supplanted by Charles Rumback’s delicate drumming, and together the pair breezed through a quick set of dreamy lo-fi, with just the right amount of shoe gaze thrown in for good measure. Check back with Blast on Friday for an interview with Tania!
We then moved on to the ASCAP Showcase at the Canal Room, where Casxio BLEW OUR MINDS (!!!) with a cover of Q. Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” “" a.k.a. the creepy song that acts as the backdrop for Buffalo Bill’s psycho-lipstick-drag hot mess of a dance in “Silence of the Lambs.” That alone would have earned the L.A. quartet high regards, but the rest of their synth-funk set was pure energy, with singer/bassist Lucas Guerin, who bears a passing resemblance to Eddie Vedder, breaking into occasional falsetto yelps. Think MGMT without the pretension.
Less enthralling “" and that’s putting it mildly “" was the third act of the night, New York’s own The Fire and Reason at Rebel. The buzzworthy electronic rock trio, whose songs have been featured on MTV and Logo, played to a surprisingly sparse crowd and were obviously not too pleased about it. Frontwoman Bella Saona, who donned thigh-high boots and sunglasses worthy of Lady Gaga, clearly envisioned herself on a much bigger stage, playing to a larger and more enthusiastic audience. Making halfhearted attempts to work the crowd, Saona only turned it up a notch when a cameraman emerged to film footage for an upcoming music video, as guitarist Steve Narvaez and bassist Lee Greenman looked bored behind her. It seems possible that The “Fire” may have already burned out.
Saona did say earlier to Blast’s John Guilfoil that technical problems forced the band to cancel its originally planned show on Wednesday.
Check back with Blast through the weekend for updates on the final two days of CMJ, and wish us luck tomorrow on our second attempt to see The xx!
Photos by Sarah Be for Blast. She also contributed reporting to this article.