Day 2 was significantly busier than Day 1. All in all, we made it to 12 different shows between 10:00am and 2am, we'll highlight the highlights here.
Bright and early yesterday morning we shot uptown to The Museum of Television and Radio for a KEXP in-studio performance by The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. Due to some wretched midtown traffic, we didn’t get there until they were halfway through the set, but we heard enough of Perry Wright’s perfectly worded literary folk to be sold that the MP3’s we’ve heard were no fluke. Catch them today at Pianos at 3:30, then opening for the Mountain Goats later this fall.
Next up we headed back downtown to Pianos to catch an afternoon set of Chicago band The Changes. Out of the many excellent unsigned bands we've seen over the last couple of days, these guys may be the most polished and radio ready. They were fantastic, with a very professional pop sound reminiscent of The Police and fellow Chicago up-and-comers Chin Up Chin Up. We expect them to make a big splash in the very near future.
From there, we caught up with The New Pornographers at Bowery. Hardcore fans of the band were likely excited by the rare appearance of Dan 'Destroyer' Bejar, while disappointed by the lack of Neko Case. We have mixed feelings about New Pornographers. They put on a really fun show, and we sincerely love a handful of their songs, but there are nearly as many that we simply cannot stand. After a quick impromptu cover of The Cars "My Best Friend's Girlfriend," we got a text from fellow Gothamist contributor Brooklyn Vegan that The Arcade Fire show was running early, so we left early and booked it uptown.
Last year at CMJ we saw Arcade Fire in the much more intimate Mercury Lounge for a 1am show. This year there were a few thousand more people in attendance, including (we hear) Robin Williams. As predicted by the blogosphere, David Bowie joined the band on stage for a few encores - including one of his own tunes, "Queen Bitch".
Playing a good mix of old songs, older songs and a new song...we're happy to report that even though the venue size was increased, their performance still managed to leave us smiling.
Check out our interview with Win Butler from just after CMJ last year. [JC]
We finished the night by seeing one of the most incredible bands we've heard in years at the 169 bar. Cloud Cult hail from a farm in Minnesota and seemed completely enthralled by New York City. They play heartbreaking, yet surprisingly upbeat songs about family, death, and living every moment to its fullest. As cynical as we often may be, there is no avoiding getting wrapped up in their music. They've been known to bring the most hardened music critics to tears at their shows, and we must admit that we weren't very far off.
That’s it for day 2! Expect a big weekend recap on Monday.
[Photo by Brooklyn Vegan]