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Tracy's CMJ 2012 Day 2 - by Tracy Mamoun
Sleepies, Mikky Blanco, Prince Rama, Maya Solovey, You Bred Raptors?, Dangerous Ponies + more



Day 2 began – oh, how unexpected! - on Ludlow Street, where Prince Rama were set to play the Cake Shop shortly after five. Getting there a little early, I got to squeeze my way to the counter, pick up a beer and some PBR swag (guilty as charged), and mainly, best part of all, catch NYC's own rapper Mykki Blanco (pictured), androgynous style icon on the rise, with a taste for extremes, for half an hour of nasty slams and menacing acid punk-driven raps, some freaky, most  straightforward twisted..  but oh, yeah, should have mentioned: when played right, that's great in my books; none of that 'positive' buzzkill, just one hell of a slimy  frantic performance backed up by the DJ every now and then, but taking on a fair few a cappellas, for one of the coolest shows I got to catch during the week. And this was only the START to the day so.. glad I turned up a little early.

Keeping things trippy in the CS basement, after laboriously getting the levels just right, on came two sirens on electronic drums and synth, with in the back some Adonis on bass. Prince Rama, who genuinely hypnotised just about everyone in the room with their apocalyptic super-psychedelic synth-rock explosions. Fact is, they're natural-born performers, which you get from seeing them engage in some hare-krishna-esque parade, getting right in the face of some puzzled front-row targets, watching that blondes-have-more-fun incarnation that is Nimai Larson mark the beat in a completely choreographic fashion. So far, this day was off to a good start.

The only minor hiccup/huge waste of time occurred a little later as I headed to Santos Party House, but we'll get to that in a minute. First, I had an hour to kill around Canal St & Lafayette, and not being aware of the distance, went for this pseudo-strategy: let's walk towards Webster Hall and see how far I can get. The plan was flawed from second one, but eventually, realising it by Mulberry Street, I took a right and headed for the Bowery Electric instead, with no idea what/who was on there but determined to not completely throw this hour away, And despite my Bud turning out to be a Bud Light, that was not a waste.

Setting up downstairs was a glowing little lady in a golden glistening dress, Maya Solovey, Jewish Brooklyn-based indie songwriter, a 'folkie at heart' in her own words. Her being Jewish only becomes relevant when pointed out that she had come with the most elaborate homemade buttermilk cornbread you could possibly imagine, and before the set (& actually once more for the road between the first two tracks), insisted on making sure everyone had had enough to eat/drink. Embracing the cliches. Love it. Backed by guitar, bass and drums, playing guitar herself, she went on for a delightful half hour of lush love stories served with the warmest, most welcoming attitude. Favourites? An original cover of Dolly Parton's classic 'Jolene' with some Middle-Eastern influenced vocals, an analogy via which a relationship turns into a hot dog, and a little portuguese sensuality. Oh, and last but not least, the man who was quite probably her father, marching around looking for the sound guy, waving at the backing band to get them to quiet down so that one could hear Maya. Well worth a giggle.

What was definitely a whole lot less of a laugh was the length of the queue to get into the Vice show, at Santos Party House. Was expecting it, to be fair, but after a solid hour hanging out on Lafayette Street with a queue that kept “fake-moving” i.e shifting a couple of feet forward due to some sensible individuals giving up after the first fifteen minutes of this bullshit - giving the illusion that we were progressing towards MAYBE hearing some music, it just seemed like I was wasting the ENTIRE evening. It's just one of those moments when you've given up so much of your time already that - if you don't even get to see ONE band - frustration adds on top of frustration. But at this stage, nothing had happened in 35 minutes, and getting bored of hearing the same 'A$AP crew vs Flatbush Zombies crew' spiel coming out of the mouth of 70% of the people surrounding me, those who seemed to have come along to spot 'that pretty motherfucker' who was NOT on the bill, I decided to get back to the LES, grab a bite, and set camp in the comfort of the Living Room for a while to check out The Deli's Post-Chestral shows. Goodbye SKATERS, Team Spirit and Flatbush Zombies. Next time maybe. And screw Vice's organisation.

Luckily, a quick look into the (very useful actually, nice one!) CMJ guide revealed that if I could make it back within the next ten minutes, instead of a bite, I could catch Sleepies (pictured above), who were playing Pianos Main Stage for a Frenchkiss Records showcase. Even BETTER. Forget about food. That would most DEFNITELY make up for the Vice fail, so speeding up a little, I managed to only miss the first song of their set. Which I am hoping was not Feelers, but am about 98% sure was most certainly NOT  Feelers as I am yet to see that song performed. Sleepies being the band I've seen the most since coming over to NY just over a month ago, this was for sure the best show I've seen them play, as for once, we got to hear the cocky vocals coming out clear, that is, better perceive the lyrics. Not that biting into an unhealthily thick layer of feedback is something I'd ever mind, no, but thanks to the sound quality at Pianos, the set got them to fully demonstrate the subtle in-and-outs and intricate arrangements behind some of the most effective yet sophisticated grunge/punk you'll hear around. 'Word'. And for once, they had a large crowd to support them too, which honestly, was a lovely surprise, as up to this point, their shows had been as many opportunities for me to go off on a rant about how the best bands don't seem to draw in this city.

Sleepies drummer Max (who by the way, is an amazingly enthusiastic/communicative performer) having encouraged the crowds to stick around for Chains Of Love, I decided to follow that advice and watch the next act before nipping over to The Living Room for You Bred Raptors?. Turns out they're from Vancouver, and Canada isn't a region we cover, but if it weren't that I've probably already maxed-out my word count for the day, I would definitely love to say a little something about these guys. But check them out, they're a five piece of bubbly high-energy garage soul fronted by two lovely ladies (one of which is very camera aware) who despite apparently having some trouble getting down here, and seeing the show stolen for a few minutes by some minuscule Indian man waving around the flashing tambourines he was trying to sell, definitely found some new fans in the room.

Finally, time to go check out what's going on at The Deli's Post-Chestral show, which I got to (ok, that actually sounds like it may have been a physical effort..) right in time for the start of headliners You Bred Raptors?, unfortunately missing Cuddle Magic whom I would have loved to watch, but will be performing again before I head back to Europe so... it's all good. Having seen YBR? Perform in the subway, a few weeks back, my main point here was to see how different the show was once the audience was theirs, as opposed to a bunch of passer-bys whose attention they'd have to catch in about.. two seconds. First, there was some joke-cracking in-between songs which in a sense made them seem much more.. accessible. That aside, their weird experimental fantasies for 8-string bass, cello and drums worked a treat on the LR crowd, and once you leave out 'people-watching' (which is a little too tempting during their subway shows) and the uncanniness of the whole masks shtick, there's a lot more to be amazed by in the different uses of the bass strings, or the complex, in times delirious articulations around the 'somewhat familiar', with that night the band's very own take on bluegrass, dedicated to nine-piece post-rock outfit Industries Of The Blind, who were on next. But whose show I could only catch for the first couple of minutes because - well - bodies need food to function and mine couldn't wait any longer...

Back to the Living Room after a slightly too long (but deserved) break, the last act I got to see that night was Dangerous Ponies, from Philadelphia, who weren't exactly post, or orchestral for that matter – except if we're speaking of how to orchestrate the sounds of three guitars into a seven piece without risking causing the crowds brain damage. They were, however, an impressive indie pop act, with an impactive 'wall of sound' approach that almost knocked me off my chair as the first few seconds of calm, quiet introduction turned into an explosion of noise. After a couple of songs, relocating to the back of the room, I got to hear a little better was was going on beneath the fuzzed-out chaos, which were some deliciously punchy, catchy jams which, despite being performed by a large ensemble, were definitely precise in their execution. By the time their set ended, it was past 2am, so time to head back. And as I write this up the following morning WITHOUT a banging headache, and the sun shining through the window, I'm getting the feeling that today's going to be an exciting run.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012