CMJ 2014: Panache Booking Showcase Standouts at the Knitting Factory

posted by Alyssa Buffenstein on October 23, 2014

King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard at CMJ 2014; All Photos by Ariel Einbinder

Brooklyn, New York -- You know, it's not like the bands playing the Panache Booking Showcase at the Knitting Factory were some modern punks, dickhead! They were obviously playing some 1977 original punk rock sounds...

…Okay, maybe the bands weren't all derivative of the Sex Pistols, but most of the acts did seem to draw influence from at least one key act formed in the 1970s, whether it was the Buzzcocks, Led Zeppelin, or both. The evening was abound with distorted vocals and even more distorted guitars, lo-fi psychedelic garage and throwback punk rock typical of the Panache roster. And with varying degrees of gimmick, some proved more memorable than others. Of the seven bands on the showcase, here are our top three standout picks.

Ice Balloons

by Ariel Einbinder

Normally, citing a band for their gimmick does not equate to a compliment; but normally, you don't see an average of eight bands a night. At a music marathon like CMJ, sometimes an insect mask and bedazzled cowboy costume are just what it takes to get an audience to like you. The lead singer of Ice Balloons, the second band on the showcase's bill, took the stage in a fly mask complete with glittering gold styrofoam hemispheres for eyes, and wore it for the duration of the band's set. Behind him stood two women wearing nothing but black underwear and thigh high socks doing some sort of conceptual arm movements, all in front of a screen onto which colorful trippy visuals were projected. To round it out, a keytar player was decked out in a rainbow sequined tunic and blonde teased hair - the effect was a live show on par with Of Montreal's fantastical performances. Did their experimental psych-rock sound like anything extraordinary? We're not sure. But would we recommend you see them live any chance you get? Absolutely.

Shonen Knife

If we're talking gimmick, we're basically defining Shonen Knife still playing shows in 2014. But if a Japanese pop-punk girl band wearing matching Piet Mondrian-patterned tunics while shredding through songs dedicated to The Ramones and ramen noodles is wrong, we definitely don't want to be right. Their music explicitly draws on classic heavy metal, glam, and original '77 punk rock, recycling riffs from the likes of everyone from Black Sabbath to KISS to The Beach Boys. But with smiles on their faces and yoga pants underneath their dresses, the three women of Shonen Knife put on a better live act than any of their living influences could today. 

by Ariel Einbinder

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's name alone is enough to pique your attention on a lineup poster, but if you happened to stumble into one of their shows without seeing their name first, their long-haired lineup would do the job just as well. Seven members deep, the Knitting Factory stage barely had room for the two drum sets, three guitarists, bassist, and harmonica player - and what's more, the lead singer/guitarist also played the flute. They too sounded like they listened to a fair amount of the Ramones, but their playlists likely also included Led Zeppelin, with some Mac DeMarco thrown in for good measure. Exploring territory between blues-based rock 'n roll and face-melting psychedelia through the model of a collective, King Gizzard fits nicely within the niche occupied by FIDLAR and Thee Oh Sees. 

by Ariel Einbinder

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