Day 3 of CMJ started out at The Delancey, where Reni Lane kicked things off in the basement around 7pm, With her bright red hair and matching sequined dress, she definitely has things down in the looks department - too bad her stage presence (or backing band) didn't rise to the same level. I mean, is it ever a good idea to cover Blondie's "Heart of Glass" in NYC?
She was followed by Suckers, who played trippy psychedelic rock with plenty of reverb and lights to match. They had a soothing, mellow vibe, filled with cooing vocals that occasionally slipped into falsetto, reminding me of 1990's Brit band Spacehog. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to keep me around for their full set...
Because, actually, the more interesting scene was upstairs, where Paul Wallfisch was holding his regular Small Beast, just like he does every Thursday in the bar area. Pete Drungle played a 40 minute improv set on Wurlitzer, accompanied by drum box and Theremin. It was both soothing and exotic, a welcome respite from the all-around aural assault. I wonder what the out-of-town indie kids thought of it.
From there, I hopped the M train out to Williamsburg, walking up to Union Pool for the Arts & Crafts (and friends) showcase. Toronto's Timber Timbre played soft and low via violin, guitar and slide that shimmered like an out-west desert sky. Lead vocalist Taylor Kirk sounded like the tenor version of Leonard with his hushed, dark vocals that held the packed room completely in thrall.
They were followed by Mumford and Sons: another UK outfit unfamiliar to me by recommended by several friends. They turned out to be the highlight of the night, ripping through a set of tight, bluegrass-tinged rock that sounded like a miraculous union of the Punch Brothers and Coldplay. Lead singer Ted Dwayne was completely charming in his stage banter, looking like a character straight out of "O Brother Where Art Thou?" with his mustache and vest, his soulful, honeydripped voice soaring above the banjo and upright bass. The packed house was clearly in on the secret, whooping and hollering throughout. Great show.
Closing out the bill at MHOW were Aussies The Temper Trap, who are among this moment's indie darlings, gracing the cover of this month's CMJ Magazine. Their vibe was melodic and dancey, but Chris Mandagi's vocals were shrill and overpowering - and not in a good way. The last straw for me was "Sweet Disposition," where they nakedly ripped off The Edge's guitar riff from "Where The Streets Have No Name."
Walking back towards the G train, I stopped in the Cameo Gallery, situated like a speakeasy in the back room of a restaurant on N. 6th St. Imagine my wonder when I stumbled upon L.A. duo Voices Voices, playing experimental noise underneath a fiberoptic sculpture lit up like an acid rainbow. If it weren't for the pictures, I couldn't say for sure it wasn't some kind of fever dream.
Eventually, I ended up back where I started, catching the midnight set at Union Pool by Montreal's Hollerado. Terrible name, but fun band, full of retro guitar riffs and straight up harmonies. Which, at that stage of the evening, was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Back out to the LES tonight, with a hopeful nightcap somewhere closer to home. (More pics below.)