NEW YORK — I had a bit more success Wednesday night at the CMJ Music Marathon than Tuesday, and was able to catch entire or partial sets from seven artists.
Scheduling mishaps actually worked in my favor on the second night of the festival, and allowed me the chance to catch a bit of slam poetry courtesy of Andrea Gibson, at the Faux Pas Productions showcase at Rockwood Music Hall. Normally, I’m not into slam, but Gibson’s politically charged rants were articulate, thought-provoking and often humorous.
The highlight of the evening for me was a no-frills performance from Australian duo An Horse in the bar 205 Chrystie. This band has been my obsession for about six months now, and I was excited to learn that they recently signed to Mom & Pop Records and will be releasing their first full-length album in early 2009. For a group consisting of just drums and a single guitar, they manage to pack quite the powerful punch. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s folk-country opening set wasn’t half bad either.
After An Horse, I headed back up to the tiny, jam-packed Rockwood Music Hall to catch part of Chris Pureka’s set. To say the setting was intimate would be an understatement, but it was perfectly suited to the Massachusetts folk singer’s low-key acoustic songs.
Closing out my night was an underwhelming 30-minute performance from the much-ballyhooed Williamsburg band Chairlift. Those who don’t know them by name would probably recognize their song “Bruises” from recent iPod Nano commercials. The trio is interesting and innovative enough to get away with pretension (i.e. singer Caroline Polachek wearing a cape onstage and in promo photos), but to me it felt like the capacity crowd at Pianos was less into the music and more into being able to brag to their friends that they saw Chairlift at CMJ 2008. Preceding Chairlift was a set from The King Left, which left me feeling completely neutral.
Thursday, unfortunately, will be my final day reporting from the festival, as I’m headed to Los Angeles for non-work-related travel. But I’m hoping to go out with a bang and catch performances by one man band Totally Michael, British upstarts Scouting for Girls, and An Horse compatriots The Satellite Nation. Check back here for updates!