Village Voice CMJ Showcase: Diehard, Colleen Green, Diarrhea Planet, Bleached, Pujol, Turbo Fruits
Better than: The free sandwiches being handed out on Ludlow Street all afternoon.
The Voice threw its annual CMJ party at Cake Shop on Saturday, and the Ludlow Street bar/cafe/record store/hangout’s food offerings were a blessing for those people shaking off their Friday nights and heading out early in hopes of cramming as much music into their weekend as was humanly possible. This year’s bash had a decided twang—three of the six bands were from Nashville, and the camraderie between those acts fueled a day full of circle pits, holler-along choruses, and a game of 52 Pickup.
The local four-piece Diehard opened the day with a brand of indie rock that splits the difference between pop and punk; their rawness and male-female harmonies recall Yo La Tengo at times. Colleen Green was next, sporting a forest green velvet dress, Wayfarers, and black tights—but no shoes—and she wasted no time. Green’s lovely voice clashes with her dark riffs, a combination that underscores her self-identification as “Belinda Carlisle fronting The Ramones.” (Calling a song “I Wanna Be Degraded” only furthers the comparison.) Her vocals were completely lucid as she sang about her boyfriend knowing just how to turn her frown upside down; her upstanding cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Burnin’ For You” nestled into her love-song-filled set quite well.
It’s hard to say who was having more fun during Diarrhea Planet’s set—the band or their audience. The Nashville garage outfit hardly fit on Cake Shop’s cramped stage, even though their normal four-axe onslaught was short by one guitarist. Their in-your-face rawness started a party even though the clock had yet to strike three, with many of their Nashville friends in attendance letting loose. Frontman Jordan Smith wore a shirt touting their Infinity Cat labelmates Jeff the Brotherhood—well, for the first three songs of the set, anyway.
The band’s yell-along lyrics focus on girls and drinking beer either until the sun comes up or until it’s all gone—and, sometimes, they contain requests to God to forgive them for any of the stupidity that might result from said combination. Yesterday’s onstage antics included dancing, beat-boxing, and even a game of 52 Pickup; there was also lots of shredding, through the crowd, behind the back, on top of the crowd and amps, even with their teeth. Diarrhea Planet was the only band of the day to get an encore, thanks to their utter devotion to keeping the crowd enthralled.
Los Angeles’ Bleached took the stage next. Singers and sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, who were in the late Mika Miko, play bleached-out surf-punk. It was difficult to hear their vocals up close, but the farther back in the crowd one got, the clearer the harmonies became, and they closed out their set with a cover of the mighty Misfits.
Pujol—also from Nashville—took to the stage with just a guitarist, bassist (who also doubled as a keyboardist at times) and drummer. Before launching into his set, frontman/namesake Daniel Pujol told the crowd how much love he felt in the room, thanks to the heavy Nashville contingent. It didn’t take long for Pujol’s energetic set to turn wild, with the crowd hollering and a mosh pit forming—one of Diarrhea Planet’s guitarists even crowd-surfed during a song from Pujol’s new EP Nasty, Brutish, And Short.
Turbo Fruits, the final band of the day, started their set nearly 15 minutes ahead of schedule. After the sound guy told them they were running early, lead singer Jonas Stein replied, “Looks like these guys are deciding the schedule.” He meant the audience, which seemed as eager for the garage-rock quartet to start as Stein.
Stein is naturally exuberant, as evidenced by the hard time he has staying onstage—he repeatedly jumped in the air for numerous guitar kicks and took to the audience for his heavy metal-tinged guitar solos. At one point, Stein even took his microphone with him to sing in the audience and head-bang his sweat all over them. No one seemed to mind, though, with people in the crowd backing him up on chorus-singing duties. For the day’s final song, Stein entered the audience yet again, doling out hugs as the party came to a close.
Critical bias: I like practically any band that comes out of the Nashville garage rock scene.
Overheard: Some chick yelled at Pujol, “Take your shirt off!” He replied, “It’s too cold in here for that.” (It was actually about 80 degrees.)
Random notebook dump: Stein is lucky some dude got a beer for him and poured it down his throat during a guitar solo——or is the dude actually the lucky one?