CMJ 2014: Day 1 Discoveries
Turbogeist at CMJ 2014 by Joshua Johnson
Brooklyn, New York -- CMJ Music Marathon is sort of an insane proposition when you think about it. It gathers upwards of 1000 bands and spreads them across hundreds of NYC venues. Then, it creates a schedule that, in order to work, would require all the venues in New York City to adhere to the same minute-by-minute itinerary. Look, going to a concert is one of the most fun things you can do on this planet, but music venues aren’t exactly known for their punctuality.
All of this makes CMJ a crazy, unpredictable mess. It’s also what makes CMJ really, really fun. You can plan your schedule down to the second, but you’ll inevitably come across a ton of bands you had no intention of seeing. And what’s more fun than discovering a new band?
The first night of CMJ brought me to The Flat in Williamsburg, which I chose with the intention of seeing the bluesy-punks in LODRO and catchy indie-rockers Honduras, who were listed on the schedule as performing at 7:45pm and 8:30pm, respectively. Neither of those times were at all accurate, and LODRO, turns out, wasn’t even on the bill. So it goes with CMJ.
Nevertheless, I came across three incredibly fun bands that made my CMJ Day 1 a success.
When you see so many bands at CMJ, you tend to pick up on little things to help you differentiate between groups. Maybe it’s the way they dress, or a how a guitarist strums his or her guitar. For Lazyeyes, it was their banter. Rather, it was their lack of banter.
Before tuning his guitar, the frontman for Lazyeyes told the crowd that he wasn’t very good with the bantering, and then proceeded to tune his instrument in silence. Meanwhile, to fill the gap, the band’s lead guitarist decided to bust out the riff from Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again.” And it was really quite charming. If it were up to me, I’d have all bantering be replaced with Fleetwood Mac riffs. I’d much rather hear a slice of “Rhiannon” than about what city you were in two nights ago.
As for the actual music, Lazyeyes played with a punk energy mixed with an atmospheric, melodic sound. The guitarist spent the whole night hunched over his instrument, which was strapped very high up on his chest. He looked like he was born to play indie rock solos, and his fiery style certainly backed that up. He even broke out a few tapping solos, of which there are far too few in the world. More guitar tapping, please.
Turbogeist are from London, and they certainly look the part. One of the members looked like he stepped straight out of a time machine from 1980s Camden Town. They sounded the part, too. The four piece came in with a sneering attitude straight off of Never Mind the Bollocks.
While Lazyeyes had a punk energy, Turbogeist were straight punk. They also incorporated some metal elements, and even had a wah-wahed guitar solo. The highlight of the show came when the frontman came off the stage and started sliding his guitar against the venue’s couches and tables.
Unfortunately, The Flat didn’t seem like the ideal venue for Turbogeist. Half the crowd was either sitting at the bar or on couches. Turbogeist seemed much better suited for those, as Craig Finn of The Hold Steady puts it, “all ages hardcore matinee shows.” This was perfect afternoon go-down-to-the-pier-and-fuck-shit-up music.
Life Size Maps
Life Size Maps did not possess the same punk attitude as the two bands to play before them, but they were just as fun nonetheless. Playing a happy, synthy brand of indie-pop, the band bounced through an effortlessly delightful set. If Mario ever gets into the indie scene, this would be the music he’d blast from his kart while he drove up and down Rainbow Road.
The frontman’s voice was particularly upbeat. He could’ve been singing about the most depressing things in the world, but listening to his cheerful voice, the only things you’d be able to think of are riding comets through space while holding a puppy.
To add to the delightfulness of Life Size Maps’ set, the band conducted a pre-concert huddle, which, to be fair, was pretty damn adorable. All in all, happy and cheerful was a good way to close out my first night of CMJ.
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