CMJ Day Three: Bleached, The Bins, King Krule, Dent May, Gauntlet Hair, Main Attrakionz, Grimes
Better than: Wearing giant credential badge around your neck for 5 days straight.
Three days into the festival, taking the non-affiliated, DIY CMJ route seemed like the right path. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of badges, the traffic jams caused by one-in-one-out door policies, and the unsettled agitation of constantly shuffling crowds changing the demographics of and vibrations of any given experience. On Thursday night, at the GPS-befuddling Shea Stadium, a bustling little community had developed throughout the strongly curated Gorilla Vs. Bear/Yours Truly show. Brown-bagged Keystone Light drinkers and chain-smoking under-agers with knit hats are apparently a fairly resolute bunch. But it lent an aura of escalation that CMJ shows often lack.
After an opening set from garage poppers and ex-Mika Miko project Bleached, a conspicuous group so far at CMJ, came The Bins. Hearing horns and live breakbeat instrumentals chiming down bleak, industrial Meadow Street lent an unfamiliar feeling to my approach—normally, Shea’s a punk and indie-centric locale with So So Glos logo-adorned kick drum. Previously a solo project, the newly minted multi-instrumentalist three-piece had only been together as a live band for about 40 days, and apparently had stayed up 40 hours before the show, rehearsing straight into their flight from California earlier that morning. Even still, they demonstrated a rambunctious precision in fusing mean, soulful hip hop cuts reminiscent of early RJD2 with throwback style, west coast party rap. They added flutes and jazzy guitar solos to crisply changing samples of African singers and soapbox speeches.
Headliner Grimes—a solo project of Emily Boucher—built her cacophonous electronic diatribes with just as much precision, if not as much instrumentation. Admittedly drunk and experiencing major problems with feedback from her vocals, Grimes remained categorically focused on her ethereal, face-smacking, throbbing electro. While probably deafening to perform amidst, the feedback actually played right into the built-up infernos of steamy and otherworldly dance beats and synth melodies, like “Vanessa,” that Boucher constructed. Boucher was the most dedicated and detailed knob twister witnessed at the festival yet, an even greater feat being one of the rare female proponents in the genre. Her voice, soaring and delicate, was twisted like a siren above heady and forlorn stompers.
In between, there were sets by King Krule, Dent May, and Gauntlet Hair, and Main Attrakionz. Dent May and Gauntlet Hair practiced the most anthemic, and also programmatic, performances in their respective genres of garage-soul and reverb-drenched, experimental no-wavey thrash. King Krule, the scrawny ginger with an incredibly deep voice and acerbic wit, rounded out the middle. His discordant songs somehow seemed rebellious without any of the normal punk trappings; they were vague and undefined in an unexpected way, mashing jazzy chord changes and funky strummed guitar with beyond-his-age adult lyrics and smart, slinky effortlessness.
Critical bias: $5 glasses of generously poured whisky set the positive tone.
Overheard: “She ran off and had a threesome with some old couple she had just met. What a bizarre girl.”
Random notebook dump: Main Attraktionz were even better in the small, shambolic space than they were the night before in the comparatively cavernous Santos. They have a smile and smoothness that could warm any baby mother’s heart.