By Sam Petri on October 30, 2010
It’s overwhelming staring down CMJ Music Marathon’s line-up of 1,200-plus bands — especially coming from Wyoming. The annual weeklong music festival that takes place in October throughout New York City showcases some of the world’s top emerging bands. If you’re an up-and-coming artist, you play it. And if you want to discover some of that music, you go. As a volunteer DJ at 89.1 KHOL, Jackson Hole Community Radio, I went.
CMJ is a fractured event. Bands play simultaneously across the city in small lineups where each act plays for about a half hour. Because of this, you just have to pick one of these lineups and commit. You can’t be bombing around the city trying to catch so-and-so in Brooklyn, then some other band in Manhattan. Just go from lineup to lineup and stay as long as you want. Most of the shows take place in bars or small music venues where you can meet almost every band you see. At CMJ, you’re not close to the music; you’re in it.
Friday I linked up with ex-KHOL music director Brad Desmond — who now lives in Brooklyn and attends New York University for its music business program — at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. To my surprise, the folk-pop band Cotton Jones took the stage. Cotton Jones have played in Jackson a few times, most notably at the Bait Shop and Dornan’s in Moose. It was great to ease into CMJ this way, with something familiar and mellow. Cotton Jones played well and afterward the band milled about and we were able to chat with lead singer Michael Nau. He seemed pumped on Jackson Hole and said he said hopes to return.
After kicking it with Brad I went to Southpaw in Brooklyn to see Dominique Young Unique, Javelin and Big Freedia. Now, this is really where shit began to pop off. Dominique is an 18-year-old Tampa, Florida, rapper who spits sexually charged lyrics in rapid fire. Javelin is a hip-hop and electronic production duo from Brooklyn (they are also my cousins and I crashed with them during the trip). Big Freedia is the “Undisputed Queen Diva” of New Orleans bounce music.
Dominique Young Unique was cool to see — I really like her music — but she does not have her live performance dialed. With time, I’m sure she’ll figure it out. Here’s a music video of her song “Show My Ass.”
Then Javelin took the stage. I had not seen them play since 2004 when they opened for Ratatat in a small club in Providence, Rhode Island — one of their first live performances. Since then, they’ve been reviewed in The New York Times, been featured as a cartoon in The New Yorker, played at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Nowadays George Langford will play live percussion and Tom Van Buskirk will sing vocals and mess with an MPC. They also play a video in the background made up of 1980s-era TV programming that reminds me of flipping through the channels at two in the morning — in a good way. Here’s their song “Vibrationz:”
And here is another video that XLR8R Magazine made that shows Javelin constructing a song in one day using thrift store cassette tapes. Of all the Javelin videos I’ve seen, I think this one best shows who they are and how they operate.
When Big Freedia took the stage there was, quite literally, ass everywhere. Can we get this girl to come play Jackson? I feel like it might be the best party of all time. This video shows what her performance at Southpaw was like. Ass everywhere …
To learn more about New Orleans bounce music, watch this informative video featuring Diplo, who travels to NOLA on a musical fact-finding mission.
Saturday I again linked up with Brad Desmond and we went to a place called Pianos on the Lower East Side. There, David Vandervelde of Nashville, Tenn., was playing upstairs. We sat and watched and drank Stella Artois with about 30 other people. This was a great way to take the edge off my Javelin/Big Freedia-induced hangover.
After high-fiving David Vandervelde, we went downstairs where Oberhofer was playing. I had no idea who they were, but now they are my favorite (this is what makes CMJ great: the adventure and discovery). Oberhofer is a young band from Tacoma, Wash., who live in Brooklyn. The song in the following video has been stuck in my head for most of the week and I don’t mind.
Then it was off to the sanctuary that is Fader Magazine’s “Fader Fort.” If I could, I would live inside this space — great music, friendly people, free Budwiser. The glossy music magazine set up inside an all-glass retail space that let the afternoon sun shine bright and allowed everyone to wear sunglasses inside. There, we caught Tanlines, Dominant Legs and Glasser, and I made friends with David E. Beats, who was milling about.
Seeing Tanlines was certainly a highlight. I am a fan. Fader had a video of their performance inside the Fader Fort, but has since taken it down from YouTube. Anyway, here is a video of Tanlines performing “Real Life.”
Between Tanlines and Dominant Legs I met David E. Beats, who approached me wondering what song the DJ was playing (It was some sort of Sleigh Bells remix). When I told him, he whipped out his iPhone, typed something and said, “I just tweeted that.” This made me laugh, and now we’re friends on Facebook.
Next I saw Dominant Legs. I know nothing of this band other than their sound is enjoyable and the girl on keys is incredibly attractive. Very listenable. That’s all that matters.
Again, with Glasser — don’t really know much about her other than her name is Cameron Mesirow and the Internet gushes about her electronic, ambient, sitting-on-a-cloud-dreaming soundscapes. She sounded good live.
Then I had to jet. My phone was dead and I had plans to meet family at Public Assembly in Brooklyn to see Javelin play alongside Matthew Dear, Holy Ghost, Gold Panda, Crocodiles, Jamaica, and Kisses. To keep it brief, the show was awesome. Afterward, Gold Panda (some guy from London named Derwin who makes great electronic music) mistook me for one of his Swedish friends and high-fived me and started saying a bunch of rubbish in my ear that I couldn’t understand in the packed bar. Then I told him I’m from Wyoming and play his songs on 89.1 KHOL. He seemed really confused and I went back to talking with my sister.
And that was my CMJ. Keep it locked on KHOL!
Sam Petri is host of the “Deep Sea Vent” show Thursday evenings on Jackson Hole Community Radio.
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