I spent day two of CMJ bumping around the L.E.S., which boasts the highest concentration of venues, both established and temporary. Ground Zero last night was Arlene's Grocery, which hosted a showcase hosted by M For Montreal, featuring no fewer than six bands from La Belle Ville. Silly Kissers played techno-pop, fronted by a girl and boy in white face paint and a guitarist who bumbled his way through some silly stage banter. Beast was dominated by the diva-like Betty Bonifassi, but felt otherwise disjointed. Think About Life were just as engaging as when I last saw them in Toronto back in May, but the dance-averse NY crowd left things feeling flat. (My guess is they'll see a whole other league of crowd response tonight during their appearance at the Halifax Pop Explosion.) Francophones Malajube played proggy hard rock with high energy and verve. (Unfortunately, I had to run before catching the explosive Annie-Claude and Duchess Says, who went on around 1230a)
Having a pass allowed me to wander off between sets, so I was able to catch Drink Up Buttercup's wild, aboriginal set at Cake Shop. When guitarist James Harvey broke a guitar string, he compensated by bringing the band out into the audience to perform a capella, with drummer keeping time by banging on a trash can lid with a maraca. (He later borrowed a guitar from the next band.) From there, I wandered over to Piano's, where I saw These United States' play some quicksilver roots rock, whose lead singer, Jesse Elliott, ended up most songs completely out of breath.
But the big discovery last night was a band I just happened to stumble upon: Norway's Megaphonic Thrift (pictured above), who tore through a 45 minute set at the Suffolk Back Room (a.k.a. the CSV Cultrual Center). They were like a cross between Built To Spill and Yo La Tengo, fronted by the Doug Marsh-like Richard Myklebust on vox and guitar. All I can say is: Wow. If you missed them, they're playing one final show this Saturday at Glasslands before heading back across the pond.
Apologies to my friends at New Amsterdam/Canteloupe for missing their dual-showcase at LPR last night, but when I'm in festival mode, new music isn't really what I'm jonesing for. I'll come back and hear you guys soon.
These United States (Washington, DC/Lexington, KY)
Think About Life (Montreal, QC)
Megaphonic Thrift (Oslo, Norway)