CMJ Day Two: Juan MacLean and Free Blood at Santos; Deerhoof at Irving


Free Blood…sorry

Juan MacLean+Free Blood
Santos Party House
October 23

Irving Plaza
October 23

Robot-rock diva Juan MacLean muttered something about it being a Tuesday night sometime early Wednesday morning; these home team acts, evidently, just don’t give a fuck. This was the physical, work out-oriented corner of the CMJ whitewash: Santos speakers moved audience members around like bowling pins; people reached up to grab onto the venue’s waving green laser-beams for support, fending off the weird high-pitched ear trauma of MacLean’s sadistically mic-ed cowbells, shakey eggs, Unicef boxes, quasar basslines, frontlady Nancy Whang screaming “LAUNCH ME INTO SPACE” like she was looking for a spotter at the gym.

Contrast this to the wavy, joke-soul group therapy JM cousins Free Blood unleashed from the same stage just hours earlier. John Pugh and Madeline Davy skip the apparatus: they’re up there with nothing to do but sing at each other and maybe dance, a kind of lovely bit of visual indecision. Their songs could’ve been written over the breakfast table, two battling falsettos sorting out shapes, track by track, the beats written in the afternoon, the show performed that night. Their jittery, mid-fi Rong/DFA disc The Singles can’t quite get at what the unreal Santos sound exposes: how tight and deliberate their short songs often are.

The tiny revelation was a relief. Over at Irving, Deerhoof’s Satomi had her usual crossing guard dance in effect, wrists cocked like a park mime, all four band members posted at the front of the huge stage as if they might somehow shrink the whole building down. There’s a déjà vu to covering this stuff if you’re not careful. In other words, a whole new to do list: Passenger, Little Boots, and Ebony Bones for starters.