Millionyoung, Cake Shop, 4:00 p.m.
by Hanna Furey
There has been so much hype about Millionyoung and Sunglasses leading up to CMJ 2010 that when they were scheduled to play at the Cake Shop's early show, you can only imagine what type of tricks people were pulling to get out of work early. Millionyoung took the stage first and seemed completely unfazed by the small crowd. The threesome from Florida exploded into their first song with vibrant energy and enthusiasm, which immediately got those in attendance dancing and enjoying the intimate but lively show. Their catchy drum beats, fuzzy guitars, ethereal vocals and well layered effects made me remember why I love electro-pop so much.
Sunglasses, Cake Shop, 5:00 p.m.
by Hanna Furey
The Savannah-based duo were pleasantly upbeat and catchy, with soothing vocals floating over the guitar and well mixed electronics. The lively performance was very tight but still seemed wonderfully random and improvised. After seeing both these bands perform I would definitely put them on my "bands to watch" list. I plan on catching both these bands again on Friday night at Matchless for the BirdDog & Sky Report Showcase. Stay tuned for interviews with both Millionyoung and Sunglasses at CMJ 2010.
The Dance Party, Arlene's Grocery, 4:30 p.m.
by Ian Frisch
When I first met Mick Coogan and Dave Keul of The Dance Party, they were helping a blonde girl drink Stella Artois directly from the tap in the main bar at Arlene's Grocery in the Lower East Side. It was four in the afternoon. After taking a shot of Jagermeister, Coogan updated the band's Facebook status on his iPhone as the Clash blared through the speakers: "I fought the drugs and the drugs won. CMJ 2010 here we come!" The Washington D.C.-based synth-backdropped-power-pop-rock quartet took the stage playing tunes off their month-old album Touch with enough energy to fill Madison Square Garden despite the small, early afternoon crowd, with lead singer Coogan belting through the microphone and twisting and flailing his lanky frame wrapped tight in black jeans and a matching leather jacket--a new age Jim Morrison with a mouth like Justin Hawkins, Michael Jackson and Prince. And as the same blonde girl climbed up onto the bar to show us her best stripper dance, the clocked ticked just past 5:30 and Keul interjected, "This is a typical Dance Party show, man. We are totally party rock."
Oh Land, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 7:30 p.m.
by Ian Frisch
Danish-turned-Brooklynite electro-pop sensation Oh Land started things off at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night celebrating the debut of her self-titled EP, which includes stand-out tracks such as "Sun of a Gun" and "Wolf & I." She took the stage for her second performance at CMJ, gripping her signature, glowing, neon-pink drumsticks, wearing sparkling velvet spandex, black platform shoes and a loose-fitting white blouse dangling off her thin frame. "It's very exciting for me right now," she said stuffing her hand into a plastic bag of chewy Danish candy. "The past year has been all about making as good a product as I could possibly do. And now I can go on stage...and there's actually a physical product." The physical presence soars as much as the EP itself: She lit up the room with singing balloons, white lights, and an eloquent display of soaring vocals and orchestral sampling. "It's like someone who won the million dollars in the lotto. I feel kind of in this dream state. I keep forgetting I actually released something. I am really proud of it."
Death on Two Wheels, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 8:15 p.m.
by Ryan Egan
When Atlanta's Death On Two Wheels took the stage, it was quite clear that anything could go for the remainder of the show. These young fellows caught a Northern wind and the crowd was lucky enough to receive them as they brought back rock n' roll in all of 30 minutes. With grungy, crunchy guitar tones, a badass vintage Hammond B3 organ, and infectious smiles, the band provided enough energy to fuel all of America's green revolution. For anyone not content with the music industry's recent obsession with "indie-rock" we can count on these southern gentlemen to put the "rock" first, especially with the gargled, raspy, Tom Waits vocals.
River City Extension, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 9:00 p.m.
by Ryan Egan
For anyone unaware of what kind of ruckus River City Extension would bring to CMJ this year, they were quickly force fed a taste of it last night in Brooklyn. With seven members on stage, no one over steps their role and the culmination of flugelhorn, cello, guitars, piano and guttural chants is a euphoric celebration. And if you didn't get it after the first few songs, you sure did when the entire band rushed the floor to close with a Levon Helm inspired rumble--backwoods style. "We're from New Jersey," the lead singer boasted to the crowd, "but the cardigan and chest hair are from Brooklyn." This band was the biggest surprise of the night.
Miniature Tigers, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 9:45 p.m.
by Ian Frisch
The Arizona-formed indie-rockers have held a substantial presence in the underground scene for almost five years now, have gotten attention from the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin, and have been one of the most sought-after bands at CMJ since 2008. They have recently been touring with Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band while performing their newest album Fortress, which debuted in July. A bulky guy with a remarkably soft vocal tone, frontman Charlie Brand held the crowd's hand through their diverse set of catchy indie-pop and full-blown, body-swaying rock jams--a perfect prerequisite to Kevin Devine, the headlining act.
Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 10:45 p.m.
by Ian Frisch
A Bay Ridge local, Kevin Devine has been performing at every major venue in New York City since he was 17. "But CMJ was the first really big milestone," he told me before his headlining performance, running his fingers through his hair. "It was in 2001, and it was when I first started getting attention from Capitol records." Last night was Devine's sixth appearance at CMJ, and although his solo artist standing grants him versatility with who is plays with live, he performed that night with Goddamn Band, who has collaborated with Kevin a lot in recent past. "These guys chose the set list tonight," Devine explained from on stage. And the choices didn't disappoint the die-hard crowd. The list ranged from sing-along pop with gritty undertones from his earlier work all the way through tracks off his newest album, Brother's Blood, which came out last year. A truly dedicated and creative songwriter, Devine is sure to keep on writing and drawing a huge crowd, especially with his new band, Bad Books, who is performing tonight at 8:30 at the Bowery Ballroom.