After being eased into a festival that has a somewhat overwhelming quantity of live music and panels, things steadily picked up for our second day at CMJ. A festival committed to bringing about informative panels for those involved in the music industry and to arranging a huge selection of live shows across New York City, it’s easy to get lost in the intense yet rewarding schedule of CMJ.
Day Two kicked off with a number of fascinating panels, opening up a number of new and old discussions including the ones that addressed the impact of smartphones upon music distribution, and music placements in the media. One of the most absorbing and relevant panels would have to have been “Breaking Digital”, an intriguing session that delved into digital publicity. From being advised to be consistent and to have a strong point of view when using social media, to learning about the dangers of twitter when it comes to ethics, the discussion was far from dry.
My evening of live music began at Brooklyn Bowl, a spectacular place that offers live music, bowling, drinks and food. Steadily filling up from early on, the night began with a sensational set by JJAMZ. A super-group made up of a dreamy line-up of Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes), James Valentine (Maroon 5), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Michael Runion and fronting the troupe, Z Berg (The Like), it’s hard not to be hugely impressed by the very formation of such an act. Living up to expectations, these guys produce a grand indie pop rock sound along with an energy packed stage presence, commanding our attention from start to finish. While Z Berg mostly held the reigns as lead singer, Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald took over to perform a number midway through the set to the crowd’s delight. Slightly moodier in comparison to Berg’s pop based approach, Greenwald’s lead vocal performance was a refreshing change of pace for the set. The band closed with “Cleverly Disguised”, an upbeat track from their debut album Suicide Pact, no doubt leaving all of us keen to check out the band’s new album.
Next up we were treated to a set by Danish artist Indians, playing ambient electronic folk-pop. Combining interesting sound effects along with his charming, high reaching vocals, Indians’ set was instantly enjoyable. Delivering heartfelt songs with a voice that brought our very own Andy Bull to mind, Indians was at his best when his songs would transform from something soft and gentle, into stronger, more emotional choruses.
Following this, the much hyped (and deservedly so) act The Neighbourhood (pictured above) took to the stage. Offering a wonderfully high dose of drama and soul, these guys mix together strong beats with lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s smooth crooning. Creating powerful, all-absorbing music, The Neighbourhood were out to play music from their recently released EP, I’m Sorry… Bringing in elements of hip hop and r n’ b, it was exciting to see such great variety in the CMJ lineup. Furthermore, it was well worth checking out this Californian band, as they will be making their way to Australia’s Laneway Festival very soon. Closing with the deep, vibrating beats of their track “I’m Sorry”, this band certainly had us hooked throughout the set.
After catching the first few songs by New Zealand's Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a three piece that plays a blend of old-school rock with elements of atmospheric pop, I made my way to the Jetlag party over at Klimat Lounge. Presented by yours truly, the AU review, along with Sounds Australia, the night was designed for everyone to kick on and enjoy live music by a special collection of Australia’s very own musicians. Held over three nights from 11:00pm to 3:00am, it was certainly heartwarming to see such a strong turn-up (and line-up) on each night, which only reinforces the great passion the strong quality of musicians that Australia has to offer. The night went smoothly with the wonderful bonus of free drinks and a great gathering of figures from the Australian music industry.
Winter People started off what was the Inertia Speakeasy event for Jetlag, putting on a spine-tingling acoustic performance. With the five members of the band filling up the small venue with their lovely folk-rock based repertoire, the crowd was instantly mesmerized by the band’s unquestionable charm. On top of performing songs from their brand new album A Year At Sea, Winter People closed with “Gallons”, a moving track from their EP of the same title.
After such a magical set, it was Jack Ladder’s turn to take to the stage. Using pre-recorded backing, Ladder’s sound may not have been as strong as I have seen in the past, yet he still did a good job of showing off his deep, brooding vocals and sharp songwriting. Big Scary ended the night with a short but pounding set, bringing out much loved numbers including “Gladiator” and “Falling Away”. A long but inspiring day of music, CMJ certainly managed to maintain their high standards across Day Two of their program.