Deli Magazine


Josh's CMJ 2012 Day 5 - by Josh Johnson

Tallahassee, Ace Reporter, Hippy, Black Wing Hallo, Automatic Children
- by Josh S. Johnson

Well, isn’t this bittersweet. After running the CMJ Marathon, I’m certainly exhausted, but I’m definitely sad to see it go. CMJ was so life encompassing that it’ll probably take me a week or so to adjust back to the normal day-to-day. If you happened to be standing by any door this week and I, out of habit, hand you my driver’s license and put my wrist out to be stamped, then I’d like to apologize in advance. Remember that scene in “Lost” when Ben told Sayid he didn’t have to be his personal assassin anymore? When Sayid asked what he should do now, Ben replied, “Well, I suppose you should live your life, Sayid.” I feel just like Sayid did, except I was writing about bands for a week, and he was killing people for a maniac. But other than that, it’s exactly the same thing. Anyway, let’s get to the bands.

First up at the Legion in Brooklyn was a very cool band from Boston called Tallahassee, whom I covered for the Deli’s New England blog. Each member of the band had a beard on his face and a mic at his mouth. At first glance, it seemed that the audition process for Tallahassee consisted of two parts: can you sing, and can you grow copious amounts of facial hair? But once the band started playing, they became a rock n’ roll monster. The vocals soared and the guitar solos were blistering. The drummer was especially all kinds of awesome, which particularly came to light when part of his kit fell over, so he played it on his side.

All four members of Tallahassee sang, so it was interesting to watch them switch off and on vocals and particular parts of the song. No matter who sang, though, the harmonies were always on point. Basically, Tallahassee was a dirtier, more electric Fleet Foxes, or, if you will, a Fleet Foxes-Lynyrd Skynyrd mash up. Either way, they put on a fantastic performance for the small crowd that was lucky enough to watch one of today’s most talented bands.

Following Tallahassee at the Legion was Ace Reporter, who, like myself, had quite the busy week. Their show Saturday was their third official CMJ show, but they still seemed in high spirits. Ace Reporter played a dramatic brand of indie-rock under the leadership of charismatic lead singer Chris Snyder. Snyder was a skilled vocalist, and his band was talented, but his songs too often failed to come together in a significant way, especially on the slower, quieter performances. When the band got to play louder and really cut loose, it allowed Snyder more meaningfully display his personality, and the result was much more entertaining. Plus, one of Ace Reporter’s songs has a keyboard line that sounded like the “X-Files” theme song, which was quite nifty.

My time at the Legion ended with garage-rock trio Hippy. If you had asked me to draw a picture of a garage-rock band, I would probably come up with something that looked a lot like Hippy. There was the drummer with the Batman-logo t-shirt, the cool chick bassist, and the frontman who looked like the combination of all the male characters in “Dazed and Confused.” The band also nailed the 60’s garage rock sound to a tee. That, combined with my dwindling ability for coherency, made me think I would be able to take a VW bus back to Manhattan. I was disappointed when I walked out of the Legion into the cruel sunshine to not see the sea-foam green vehicle. I did, however, see a White Castle, so I entertained myself with my favorite lines from “Harold and Kumar” on the long Subway ride back to the East Village.  

I soon found myself at the Mercury Lounge for electro-garage rockers Black Wing Halo. Instrumentally, the four-piece band was very solid. The bass and drum-heavy sound was a commanding, full-force presence. Vocally, however, I wasn’t a fan. The lead singer favored a distorted mic over a clean one, and the result was not easy on the ears. When he did sing into a normal mic, especially when his female keyboardist sang backup, the result was a very cool mixture of sounds. But I guess you don’t name your band “Black Wing Halo” unless you want to sound like a demon.

My CMJ 2012 came to a close with Automatic Children at Wicked Willy’s. Despite the venue’s overwhelming pirate paraphernalia and the presence of “official” beer-pong tables that you could potentially reserve in case you and your friends have done everything in the world short of going bowling, it was still an enjoyable place to hold a concert. Even though Automatic Children’s 90’s indie-rock style didn’t really fit the vibe at Wicked Willy’s, the four-piece band put on an entertaining show. Each song was very well crafted, and the band came off as very skilled and professional.

A few stray thoughts before I let go of CMJ 2012:


  • My hand is so covered in re-entry stamps and marks and it could probably infiltrate the Russian mob (go watch “Eastern Promises”)

  • The New York City music scene is staggeringly good. You don’t really notice until the best of the best are thrown at you for five straight days

  • My favorite acts of the week (in no particular order): Wilsen, Blonds, The Nightmare River Band, Local H, Field Mouse, The Bengsons, Tallahassee, MS MR, Sewing Machines, Linfinity

Thank you very much for reading. Now, go start planning for CMJ 2013, assuming our planet doesn’t turn into a Roland Emmerich movie two months from now.








The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012