Monday, October 22, 2007

CMJ: Day 5

More CMJ coverage can be found in the WSN Arts Blog.

This was it. After a frightening moment of being turned away at the door - and a solid hour of waiting - I finally got into Roseland to catch one of the nominal headliners. It's been an amazing week, and this was a hell of a way to end it. I'll have final thoughts on the whole mess soon.

The Ponys

Chicago quartet the Ponys did not seem ready for Roseland. The band was greeted with polite applause after starting their set with straightforward rock tracks built on drums and bass rhythms, but the momentum did not last. The Sonic Youth-derived fuzz made for a tepid middle section, and guitarist and lead singer Jered Gummer did nothing to redeem the abrasive qualities with his yelps. During one song, Gummer adopted a faux British accent, but that was far from an improvement. Bassist Melissa and guitarist Brian Chase chipped in with occasional backup vocals, but it was not enough to save the set. The most relevant comment that came from the stage pretty much summed up the set: “A few more, then Spoon’s on.”

MySpace: The Ponys
Official Site: The Ponys


Austin four-piece Spoon have built a large following after the success of their most recent album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Frontman Britt Daniel noted that the band was playing their largest headlining show ever, and as the lights flashed over the crowd, it was evident that the entire floor and balcony was packed. New and old fans were treated to a terrific set, as the band began with Ga tracks “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case” and the bouncy “Don’t You Evah” before diving into noisier songs from their older albums. The band then brought in a trombone, saxophone and trumpet player, a trio that Daniel dubbed “treble horns,” for “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “Jonathan Fisk,” adding a flourish to their often minimal compositions.

After the brass section left, guitarist Eric Harvey switched to keyboard, and his staccato notes punctuated “The Ghost of You Lingers.” As Britt soulfully crooned, the band was bathed in blue light, a surreal moment in their set. Afterwards, the band finally started on selections from 2005’s Gimme Fiction with “The Delicate Place” and “The Beast and Dragon, Adored.” Daniel paused to make some mention of CMJ, even though a mere thirty or so badge holders were actually present in the 3,000 person venue. After joking that the audience was there to “sign bands,” Daniel got serious by thanking Merge Records and saying that they were signed to “the greatest label in the world.” The band followed the bold statement with their biggest hit, “I Turn My Camera On,” resulting in a sea of head-bobbing.

The audience became involved with the performance during “I Summon You,” clapping along to Daniel’s falsetto croons. The horns returned, complementing “Stay Don’t Go” and the brisk “Jonathan Fisk.” “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine” and “My Mathematical Mind” rounded out the incredibly set, showing that they deserved to be one of the headliners for the CMJ festival.

MySpace: Spoon
Official Site: Spoon

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