CMJ Recap by Emilie: The End

** I was pretty sick and felt like shit on Friday so I didn’t do as much as I had planned eek! **  While waiting in line for The Antlers Thursday night I had met a band who told me about this CMJ event that is open all day that includes free haircuts, messages, drinks, games, and more. I decided to check it out the next day, which is Friday.   Jace, John Scott, Ali, Karl, and I headed to find this magical party. On the way there is documented footage of our first KSCR musical, a must to check out. We got to the party before the doors opened so Ali and I performed in the street; I played harmonica while she danced and sang.   We finally got in and scored some free rock band T-shirts while Ali played Rock Band, and dominated it.   I left almost as soon as we got there to head back to NYU to catch a panel on Hair. I had received a free tickets days before to a Hair performance and I thought it was today. Unfortunately I learned it was for the night before and I missed it, I’m still pissed about that. I arrived early and was able to catch the end of the Featured Speaker panel with Emmanual Jal. He is a hip hop artist from Sudan who was indoctrinated to become a child soldier in Ethiopia, survived and was smuggled into Kenya and saved. He told chilling stories and really spread the message of how much Africa needs help right now. He ended with a performance. Then the Hair panel started, featuring Galt Macdermot (ORIGNAL composer), Jim Rago (ORIGINAL co-writer), and Gavin Creel (currently played Claude). I was awestruck. In front of me was the man who wrote, “Let the Sun Shine In” and “Age of Aquarious.” In front of me was the man who wrote one of the best musicals in American history. There has not been a show like Hair since 1968. They talked about how they came up with ideas, how the music came about, and more. Then Galt got on the piano and Gavin sang some songs from the current Tony nominated Broadway revival of Hair. Momentously, Jim (who had mentioned that he had wanted to be the original Claude) walked down the stairs and started singing with Gavin. There is was: original composer, current Claude and original Claude. Worlds collided. Generation X, Y, and Z became one. There was a woman, maybe in her 50’s or 60’s, sitting behind me with her eyes clasped shut so tightly and this nostalgic smile on her face. I could only assume she was imagining the first time she saw the musical while she listened to the performance.   This was the last day of the film festival part of CMJ and “Finding Elliot Smith” was the final documentary. Ali, Jace, John Scott, and I headed back to Norwood to catch the film. It was pretty good, it really focused on his friends and on the fact that Elliot’s fiance, Jennifer Chibo, did not murder Elliot Smith. Come of Elliot’s Oregon friends really bashed Los Angeles and blamed the city for Elliot Smith demise and fall back into drugs. Overall the film was pretty good.   I originally didn’t think I’d make it to all the shows Friday night since I was feeling pretty shitty, but after getting some coffee into my system and visiting an Australian Bar that was overly crowded I mustered up the energy and made it to The Bowry Ballroom. There was a great showcase this night, most notable Temper Trap and Portugal. The man. I missed most of Temper Trap but saw Portugal. The man. It was a great set and The Bowry Ballroom mixer was really on for the show. Portugal not only had great sound quality but they also had so much energy, even though John stopped at one point to tell us how sick they all are right now. Their last song (before the encore) was a great 8 or 9-minute medley; this made the crowd go berserk. It was fucking awesome. It was a great way to end my first CMJ experience.   Note to future CMJ go’ers: wash your hands and take zinc.

CMJ Recap by Emilie: Day 3

Day 3: Thursday October 22nd  Today was College Day at CMJ, so I started the day with the Music Director’s Summit. This was actually quite a nice panel (surprising for CMJ) and listening to everything the panelists had to say I realized KSCR is doing pretty good! I did write down some ideas that might improve the station more.   I saw the “Footsteps in Africa” documentary as part of CMJ’s Film Festival. It documented the life, mainly through traditional music, song, and dance of the nomadic Tuareg tribe. The documentary was really interesting, especially for me because one of my life dreams is to be paid to travel Africa while recording different tribal and village music.   After the film I headed back to NYU to catch a panel about songwriting “scenes” in different cities. Of course, the panel didn’t end up discussing this and I found myself bored out of my mind. I’m sorry to be blunt, but this year’s CMJ panels were below par. Way below par. So far below par that even with a telescope the par line is still light years away.   Via Tania played at Le Poisson Rouge and she’s one of my favorite musicians right now and has been doing pretty well on the Top 200 charts, so I headed to check her out. I was able to catch Choir of Young Believers who played before her. They were great live, so great that if we could bring them to KSCR it would up our coolness factor (HINT HINT HINT). Via Tania’s live performance was pretty bad, I left before her set was over. Later that night one of her promoters emailed me asking about any feedback I had on Via Tania’s album, here’s what I had to say:   “Hey Kevin,  I absolutely LOVE the Via Tania album "Moon Sweet Moon." I think it's beautiful and fresh and wonderful. It's like rainbows, but with muted colors. It's like puppy dogs, but in the pound. It's beautiful with just enough sad.   I saw her play live at CMJ and was rather disappointed, though. Her live show did not live up to the album. I don't know if she was tired or if the venue was not right for her, but I felt the performance was flat, her voice did not shine and there was absolutely no energy. This hurts her as an artist, because I had pulled a bunch of people into the show with me, raving about how magnificent she is and they left early because they were bored and uninterested. Lost potential fans.”  This is not a show I’d wish upon KSCR.   The next stop was The Delancey, right next to the Williamsburg bridge, to see The Antlers. Getting into The Antlers was such a clusterfuck of an experience. The line might as well have stretched into Brooklyn, but I was fourth, almost touching the velvet rope. The showcase was full of great bands, such as Suckers and Delorean, but I really just wanted to see The Antlers. After a lot of annoying waiting around and watching other CMJ’ers bullshitting and trying to trick the bouncer, I made it into the venue. I went downstairs to watch Delorean finish but the room was so stuffy and the crowd was so smelly that I had to go upstairs and wait for the room to not only clear out but hopefully gain some ventilation. The Antlers finally went on an hour and a half late and played a shortened set. Pitchfork actually wrote about this show, it’s an interesting article, and the addressed the fact that some of the bands took liberties on how long they should take to set up and through off the showcase. But the music, the music: The Antlers were great. I was completely sober for this show but they were like weed for me. Their music swirled above my head and I felt like I had an out of body experience. Granted, I was getting sick at this point in CMJ and had a fever and maybe was heading towards delirium, but nonetheless The Antlers put on a stellar performance.

CMJ Recap by Emilie: Day 2 pt. 2

The showcase began with Warpaint, a nice surprise. In fact, this is a band that we should try to get to play a KSCR Presents show (hint hint). We caught some of the Darlings and some of The Black Hollies in the basement of the venue, a tiny space (max is probably 95 people, maybe) that allows for intimacy and annoyingly crowded pathways. After the Terrorbird party I headed up a few blocks to the Mercury Lounge to catch The XX.  After the debacle with Atlas Sound I made sure to arrive early. Even at two and a half hours before show time the line was a block long. By the time we entered the line curled for blocks around the neighborhood. Lia Ices began the set and I immediately loved them. They are another band that I didn’t get to approach but we should definitely bring them to KSCR (HINT HINT). CMJ describes her as “experimental folk that resonates from her chilling vocals and arrangements.” Next was Javelin, a strange mix with Lia Ices and The XX. Javelin, “island influence and a Casio keyboard dominate hand clappy hip hop,” was interesting, employing cool vocal decoder effects straight through the mic. Finally, The XX came on and dominated the room. The twenty year olds quietly and confidently lulled us into the airy space that the band created. They opened with “Crystallized,” quickly asserting their influence and moved on to more songs to complete their hour set.   After The XX I planned to see Jenn Grant at Googie’s Lounge, the upstairs venue at The Living Room, located only a few blocks from the Mercury Lounge. I had two and half hours to kill before, though, so I set up shop in a vegetarian organic food store café and drank a soy chai tea while serendipitously running into two Israelis who entertained me for quite some time.   Downstairs in The Living Room was some loud thrasher band, but upstairs in Googie’s Lounge, located behind large velvet curtains, was a small area equipped with rugs, couches, drinks, and singer songwriters. I climbed the steps, pushed back the curtains, and entered a whole new world.   When I arrived Ruth Minnikin, Halifax native like Jenn Grant, was still doing her set. I set up shop right in front of her at a table by myself. Ruth’s set was fine, but it was like all Halifax native female singer songwriters I’ve heard; cute Meghan Smith. It’s cute, it’s happy; it’s sunflowers and fields of high school sweethearts. It made me nervous, wondering if Jenn Grant was going to be too much of a [artist who takes pictures of babies in cute outfits] picture.   But Jenn Grant wasn’t any of that. She was perfect. She was able to fill every frequency, every piece of open space, yet leave ions of emptiness at the same time. Everything melted away as she played and she became the center of my world. The trasher bass hits from down stairs seemed to disappear for just a few minutes as she dominated any free amoeba of an emotion that was available in New York.    Her live presence set me back a bit, though. Her music is so intimate and I had imagined her as a darker more brooding songwriter; dark hair, emaciated, and quiet. I wanted her to be the mysterious women that I imagined each week as I spun “Echoes” on Kosher for Kollege. Instead a blonde haired, wholesome Novia Scotian in a blue sundress sang and tried to be cute and funny, which she is, but it took away from the deep [insert something] of her music. She made up silly anecdotes and followed each song with a couple meek “thank yous,” sometimes saying “thank you” before the last note had finished ringing, before I was ready to let go of the song. But there was as certain mystery to her, I guess. She knows something we don’t, because when she sings the world is lost, no matter what banter she had followed the song with, once she sang the world narrowed and all we saw and all we knew and all we breathed and all we dreamed was Jenn Grant. She was sharing with us something that is from a place even deeper than her heart. She’s sharing emotions that we don’t even know how to access. With a violin, a guitar, and her voice, Jenn Grant creates an army.   For her last song, she came out into the center of the room (if you can call it a room, it was maybe 12 feet wide and 30 feet long, which included a stage, a sound booth, a bathroom, and kitchen) and played a miniature guitar and sang for us, completely acoustic. But the music downstairs was too loud and drowned her out. So she sat in a chair and had us cram around her, inches from her guitar. And then it happened again. The world around us melted away and all we could see what Jenn Grant, pouring to us everything we wanted yet nothing we could handle. The thrasher band downstairs went silent in our minds. I looked around at everyone’s faces. Some people seemed on the brink of tears, and the men who had seemed so disinterested were spell bound. When they caught my glance they pulled out of their trance, acting as if they hadn’t been as affected as they were. I myself nearly broke down a few times.   Maybe I was just in “one of those moods.” It could have been that I was in as melancholy a state as her music since I was traveling around NY alone at this point, surrounded by couples who couldn’t keep their hands off each other while forcibly dwelling on my past relationship. Whatever it was, Jenn Grant amazed me and left me yearning for more.  

CMJ Recap by Emilie: Day 1

After being lost in Queens I finally made my way to the Chelsea International Hostel to drop off my luggage and head to NYU to pick up my CMJ badge. Not even taking a second to breathe I immediately left with Ali to find the Spectre meet and greet at Hi Fi, a bar on Avenue A somewhere.

 

After being lost for about an hour we finally made it there and received free drinks and goody bags. It was great to see the promoters’ faces when for months I’ve only heard their sultry voices. Eric from Spectre, Grahm from [a man etc], and Canada from Pirate! After sufficiently paying our dues we headed off to try to catch Atlas Sound, the long awaited concert of CMJ. We made it to the venue, Le Poisson Rouge, early only to find out that no more CMJ badge holders were allowed in. Bummed, we made a new game plan.

 

We headed straight down town to The Suffolk to see Fool’s Gold. Arriving there two hours early we got our hands stamped and walked a few blocks down to eat a great NY pizza place. (As a sidenote I want to point out that after all the pizza I’ve consumed in New York I have to admit that the state definitely has something to brag about.) Ali and I arrived back at the venue and sat through some of the showcase already going on. The bands were awful. Ear shatteringly awful. So awful that we slept through some of them. The venue itself was awful. G-d awful. The power could not support two guitars, a vocal mic, and a drum set. For one punk band the circuit overloaded four times until they gave up. But we really wanted to see Fool’s Gold and it wasn’t until 12:30 in the morning that we were informed they had cancelled. CMJ Fail.

We're Heeeeerrre...

KSCR has officially arrived at CMJ! Well, 3/5 of us anyways.  How does that compromise thing work again? After navigating a sophisticated network of planes, trains, and automatic stairs, we found our selves in the heart of New York City!  Or maybe the appendix.  We were deprived of food and sleep. Still, in typical KSCR fashion, we set out undaunted...and in the wrong direction. After consulting with iPhone GPS, we got to check-in and picked up our stinkin' badges.  Success! So, here we are.  KSCR Los Angeles is taking over NYC and we're gonna give you the play-by-play right here at Bandwidth.  Stay tuned.

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