One thousand or so bands (give or take a few shaggy haircuts) hit New York City every fall for the CMJ Music Marathon, a five-day band-a-palooza where new acts get noticed (see Arcade Fire) and scores more get drunk at open-bar showcases. For the next few days, Rock Daily will be bringing you reports on the bands we consider most worthy of your time after CMJ has packed up and moved on:
“Fuck, yeah!” shouted Randy Randall of the guitar-and-drums avant-rock duo No Age at the beginning of the pair’s set at Bowery Ballroom. It was a neat summation of last night’s lineup: No Age, Dan Deacon and Deerhunter all revel in the art of glorious, sloppy, demented noise.
No Age rocked the stage as if they had written the greatest guitar riff since AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” even though their songs are supremely messy two-minute bursts of chaos. Plus, they had a great spirit: Randall took turns playing from the top of the P.A. speakers or banging his head into his amp while drummer Dean Spunt at times slapped hands with the kids in the front row. When Randall claimed “We’re really excited to see you guys,” to the audience, you believed him.
A performance artist from Baltimore, Dan Deacon performed at his table of mixers, samplers, ring modulators and pitch shifters on the floor of the venue. Since he was in the middle of the action, the crowd crammed dangerously around him, jumping up and down like tweaked-out aerobics instructors to synth-rock bangers like “The Crystal Cat.” For Deacon, it was too much and near the end of his set he shouted, “This level of shoving is just ridiculous.” So he asked the crowd to push back and create passageways so a few fans could run in circles around the balcony of the ballroom and back down to the floor.
Things calmed down considerably for Deerhunter, the shoegazy four-piece from Atlanta. Their set was the perfect way to wind down from Deacon’s maniacal exercise-rock, especially when they kicked into the kraut-rocking groove of “Cryptograms.” It’s too early to say for sure, but this felt like one of the best showcases of the festival yet.