As we stated before, there is far far more to CMJ than our little series of parties. Over 1000 bands were in town last week, and while nobody could possibly catch them all, the idea is to see as much as you can and maybe discover a few new favorites. Rather than scrape together a drab roundup of the day by day, we decided to award certain aspects of CMJ for making a mark on the 2006 marathon. Here we go...
Best band We'll likely never see live again: The Shins
It was nice to see them rock out the Bowery Ballroom for what will likely be one final time. They are too popular for a room this size, but their sound really isn't suited for a space much bigger. We kind of came to grips with the fact that this may be the last time we see the Shins perform live. We suspect the next time around will be somewhere like Roseland, Hammerstein, or even bigger, and while we'll always have a place in our hearts for them, there's a slim chance they'll be playing a club we'd feel comfortable paying to see them in ever again.
Most talked about band nobody had ever heard of before last Wednesday: Shout Out Out Out Out!
Most talked about partially because people enjoyed saying their name, but Shout Out Out Out seemed to genuinely come out of nowhere and become the talk of the town by Saturday night once their show at Lit was upon us. They were a pure, unadulterated dance party, from all accounts and while you may never hear from them again, for one week, they were on the lips of every scenehead and tastemaker worth their weight in technorati rank. (pic via Yeti)
Greatest non-Gothamist House WOW moment: The Kingdom's set-closing version of Polaris at Pianos
We love The Kingdom, and were transfixed by lead singer Chuck's solo set at the Gothamist House Saturday afternoon, but we needed more, and made it out to their official full-band CMJ showcase that night. The set was superb, but the capper was an invigorated version of the normally serene "Polaris", featuring gigantic guitar fills and vocal hysterics like nothing we were prepared for. What was previously our favorite song on the record took on a whole different life in person, and we have to admit it made us love the song even more.
Undertated Hottie: Serai Zaffiro From De Novo Dahl
I suppose anyone looks good after spending 5 straight days surrounding yourself with Music Executives, College Radio diehards and bloggers, but nonetheless. It was after 1am on the Final night of CMJ. 4 dudes in fairly unflattering horizontal striped yellow and red outfits and one cute redhead in a matching jumper and Cowboy boots. The music is good enough to stand on it's own, but the gimmick is these costumes, and after dodging the uncomfortable bulges of the four male members and their too-tight pajama bottoms, Serai is a sight for some very sore eyes.
Best/Worst name of a band we didn't see: This Moment In Black History
Both, at the same time. Heard they were actually fantastic. Surely we'll remember the name the next time they are in town. One benefit for having such a goofy moniker. See: Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin.
Greatest Chill Moment: Colin Meloy upstairs at Pianos
Take away the overburdensome Zune sponsorship or the fact that it was barely noon when the first guitar string was strummed, but sitting at the feet of one of our favorite songwriters as he played a short set of old favorites to a packed bar room. His solo shows a few winters ago in the Blizzard at The Fez are on the short list of defining, stand out musical moments of our lifetime, and to get another taste of that, even for only 5 songs, was something truly special. Still not gonna buy a stupid Zune, however.
Most Excessive Band Member: The 4th guy in The Thermals
With the addition of just one extra guy, the band went from a spitfire song-in-song-out whirlwind to just another live act. Sure we still love The Thermals, even if the new album was a little too sedate for our tastes, but there is something about the urgency of a three piece band that these guys brought in spades. With the 4th guy in there, it just seems a little easier. A little less amazing. A little disappointing.
Most Dangerous Promotional Item: Upshot Energy Shot
Every CMJ gift bag came with a sample of this. It tasted like cough medicine, sent us scrambling for the bathroom 20 minutes after consuming (Schillers seemed like the best option at the time, FYI) and kept us awake till well after 5...sober, mind you...babbling back and forth with people we hardly knew at San Loco on Stanton Street. We are all about energy drinks around here, but this was at a totally different level. Never, ever again.
Best Backlash: Heart on a Stick on Ra Ra Riot
To us, they sounded like a fairly harmless band that was heavily influenced by many of the groups bloggers have been championing for the last few years (Voxtrot meets Arcade fire meets Tapes n Tapes meets etc...). To Heart on a Stick, he suggests "listening to Ra Ra Riot is a little like being forced to eat loved ones who’ve been forced to swallow a dead cat, twice over." OK!
Biggest CMJ Cliche: David Cross at a Shins Concert
Honestly, every time we see David Cross it feels like a cliche, but the most popular alt comedy star at the most popular alt rock band's concert? It was like spotting the Pope at church.