That’s Peter talking with Nate Dorr’s neck; photo by me
Vampire Weekend, “Oxford Comma” (MP3 via Stereogum)
After a vampirish week of 30-something acts in five days, the only lingering question three days later isn’t Ezra Koenig‘s ‘Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?’ (Answer: John Norris, Demetri Martin, and Jon Pareles.) But rather, ‘Who gives a fuck about your CMJ diary?’ Listen to those crickets. Speaking of which, Boston band Hallelujah the Hills used the chirping buggers as a sound effect during the Misra Records showcase at Arlene’s Grocery. . . oh right, you don’t give a fuck.
So then won’t bother to tell you how I wisely abandoned my personal CMJ checklist about 36 hours into the proceedings—you try finding a Planned Parenthood rep to accompany you to see the Coathangers. Also won’t mention that I accomplished personal CMJ goals #3 (“See a drummer who looks like he smells”—thanks, Mr. Bearded Bongoist at Piano’s), #6 (“Hit a show that’s rumored to be shut down by the cops”—good ol’ illegal Silent Barn never fails), and #10 (“Find A Place to Bury Strangers”—the Bongo-Slapper’s beard would hide a dead body just fine) all by Thursday morning. Bonus late-breaking just-for-fun achievement: “Be a naysayer about Yeasayer.” Done: they’re the Rusted Root it’s okay to like.
Celebration at Piano’s; photo by Rebecca Smeyne
This year at CMJ, there was nothing like the Knife—prog-funky UNKLE wasn’t even a distant relative, Justice was already upheld here in the spring, and M.I.A. reemerged from exile-hiding at Siren. Even this week’s reliable entertainers were already pooled together over the summer with none of this lanyard laboriousness: Band of Horses, Dan Deacon, Spank Rock. Nevertheless, a CMJ window-shopping list quickly took shape, populated largely by bands of whore-ses whose showcase promiscuity made them highly solicited. Like Cut Off Your Hands, dance-punk Kiwis for fans of voluntary amputation. Or Leeds leaders iLiKETRAiNS, aimed at Lionel hobbyists and first-person parodists. Or Health, a Los Angeles four-piece who’ve surely ingested their share of Flintstone vitamins because live, their choreographed car-crash percussion was. . . holy fuck.
Actually missed Holy Fuck (again), but since we’re dropping detention-bound band names, I did catch Jay Reatard (again). “Everybody gets their 15 minutes,” Mr. Reatard snarled at Galapagos on Friday, “And this is yours.” Dude was not kidding: after what seemed like 14:59 of Headbangers Ball lite, he immediately started to pack away his white-stallion of an axe, the Flying V. The house lights nagged by staying off, men with tucked shirts begged for more, yet Mr. Reatard and his hesher cronies ignored them and packed up their equipment.
1:20 minutes of Jay Reatard’s 15
(A tucked-shirt aside. Did anyone else notice that Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig actually untucked his shirt AFTER their Cake Shop afternoon show press conference? What kind of young man tucks in his shirt to go onstage? I hate that I like this band’s songs.)
See? Top right. Tucked.
Any post-CMJ document is obligated by Internet law to mention the Black Kids. Wouldn’t want to be sent to blogger jail (no WiFi), and apparently our man WSB is complicit in this hype, for which even Mike D showed up to the Brooklyn Vegan R Bar showcase on Friday afternoon. And so: the Black Kids, poor, cute, unrehearsed souls who performed a fantastic version of the Beirut/Lady Sovereign NYC Debut. (Improvised, though, no offstage puke.) I actually recorded this set so you could all hear it and judge for yourself, but then I dropped the memory card in one of those free Sex on the Beaches they gave away at the Fader Sideshow (no joke), so no (Black) dice. No matter how amateur their performance, gonna be a yeasayer amid the naysayers on the Black Kids: still standby the lonely-people anthemic excellence of “Hurricane Jane,” which you should download here (third one down) if you haven’t already.
Actually did a quick Q&A with the Black Kids’s Reggie Youngblood on Saturday night outside Galapagos (Me: “Did you already play?” Him: “Yes”), before I caught Peter, Bjorn, and Some Dude Named Doug headline around 3 am. Yes, they did “Young Folks.” And while Peter may’ve been at Vampire Weekend’s Other Music breakfast, he is a living answer to Ezra’s original question. Three men who definitely don’t give a fuck about an Oxford comma: Peter Bjorn & John.
The Coathangers at CMJ; photo by Rebecca Smeyne
Other acts I saw during CMJ, whoopty-doo: Dan Deacon (2x), Team Robespierre, Juiceboxxx, Vampire Weekend, No Age, Deerhunter, British Sea Power, 1990s, Cadence Weapon, Pela, Mika Miko, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Islands (2x), Atlas Sound, Bat Attack, Oakley Hall, Ladybug Transistor, White Williams, iWayne, Cops Outside a Ridgewood Afterhours Vice Party (not a band, a performance piece), Cool Kids (Fader act, not a performance piece), and Santogold.