CMJ 2005 | Friday

Rakescmj2005
Ambitious plans were laid for
Friday — eight bands, four venues, two boroughs — and mostly
pulled-off, with only one disappointment. Things started early. I left
work and jetted down to the Tribeca Rock Club for the show sponsored by
Cincinnati’s WOXY (which, back in
2000-2001 I used to be the Friday morning movie critic for back when
they were a broadcast station) and hopefully make it for Voxtrot‘s
5pm set and got there maybe three songs in. Is there even any need to
make a Smiths reference when describing this Austin quintet’s sound?
They are charming men, indeed, thought maybe just a hair too wispy for
me, though much better live than their overly-reverbed recordings might
have you believe. Next up was Chicago’s Chin Up Chin Up
who I really like despite some nascent jam band tendencies and a singer
who occasionally reminds me, vocally, of Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett.
The guitar interplay is so melodic that you end up being won over. Nice
set and they deserve more exposure. I indulged in the $2 Red Stripes —
the gravely voiced bartender said this was the cheapest drink ever
served at TRC "You kids  must be special" — during Dios Malos‘ performance which seemed like bland frat rock. This was strange because I actually liked what I’d heard of their new record.

Anyway, The Cribs were
next. Three brothers from Yorkshire, England who are like a more
melodic, more functional Libertines. Gary and Ryan are twins; younger
brother Ross plays drums, often while standing on them. Nearly every
song features a "Whoa-oh!" in it somewhere… at least the singles.
Many of them sound alike, but many are undeniably catchy. (How can you
not like "You Were Always the One" or current single "Martell"?) And
they play with the kind of gusto that comes with youth and beer. At
every show, Gary, who needs to stop wearing that awful red cycling
shirt at every show, finishes their last song by chugging a beer while
playing guitar (well, making noise on the guitar). He didn’t quite make
it this time, spitting a lot of it on the stage. Brooklyn Vegan was
there too for most of it, and took lots of good pictures.

From
there, it was off to Williamsburg. Grabbed some tacos at Matamoros
Puebla (what would I do without this place) before heading to the Sugar
Factory for a party featuring Dirty on Purpose. $5 got you in, booze
included. The roof was supposed to be open but some snafu of some sort
meant everybody had to stay inside where it was dank and hot. It’s the
kind of place that when their aren’t illegal parties going on, you
could image holding people hostage there. Bands played on this ledge
with people watching 15 feet or so below. All I kept thinking was
"somebody’s gonna fall and get hurt." I am old. The Vaz — frenetic guitar and drum combo — played first and they were really, really loud. Too loud for me. I am old. Dirty on Purpose
sounded surprisingly good for a room without a PA (more on them on
Saturday), but there were some drunk fratty dudes that looked like they
were about to cause trouble, and it was hot and dank in there and it
was time to go see the Rakes at Northsix so we left.

A lot of people seem to be nonplussed about The Rakes,
but their debut, Capture/Release, is really good in a dark, streetwise,
class-conscious sort of way that reminds me of Wire without ever really
sounding like them.  I had it in my mind that they went on at midnight
but, in fact, they went on at 11pm. Crap. I caught the last three songs
("Strasbourg" and "22 Grand Job" finished their set), but missed all my
faves — "Binary Love" "Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep)."  There were a
bunch of dudes there that looked like they had just been pulled from
Picadilly Circus — eggwhite mohawks, safety pins, etc — as well as
some many who looked like Rod Stewart circa The Faces. I’m assuming at
least some of them were Towers of London who were playing elsewhere during CMJ.

Then
it was back to the city and to Scenic for a Beggars Banquet after
party. A friend at the label invited me and got me in pretty quickly,
despite the chaotic, unorganized nature of the thing. There was
supposed to be free Red Stripe but at least one of the bartenders was
trying to get people to pay for them. I know college students are
supposed to be notoriously bad tippers, but it’s still a dick move.
Despite there being way, way too many people in the Scenic basement, it
was fun. I came mainly because my friend said I HAD to see new 4AD
signings Celebration,
who I’d never heard of despite being from here and hugely popular in
some circles. They were somewhere between The Secret Machines and the
Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The three-piece featured a drummer; a
multi-instrumentalist who kept his back to crowd the whole time and
played a bank of old keyboards and organs, some occasional guitar, and
also played bass via Moog foot pedals; and Katrina Ford who is of the
Jim Morrison /Karen O. school of lead singers. She writhed through the
crowd for most of the show — literally in the crowd’s faces. You could
certainly dance to it, but Celebration aren’t doing the punk funk
thing, it’s much more grimy (not grime), bluesy, sexual. I would go see
them again in a heartbeat but don’t know if I’d listen to the album
(out Oct 11). They play November 5 at Bowery Ballroom with Calla.

Rakes photo courtesy Central Village’s Flickr photostream.

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