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New York Cool - Music

CMJ at Bowery Ballroom
October 19, 2007

Written and
Photographed by Evan Sung

Opposite Photo:
Jeanine O'Toole of The 1900's




The CMJ music marathon & film festival hit NYC hard and fast this past week. With New York City enjoying a renaissance of music halls like the Highline Ballroom, Williamsburg Music Hall and the newest Terminal 5 in Midtown, naïve souls might think that there wouldn’t be enough musicians to fill all these places. CMJ, as usual, manages to fill all these venues to bursting with bands to spare. Living up to the Marathon moniker, CMJ flooded stages around town nightly from Oct 16-20 with endurance-testing line-ups of diverse acts. Pity the poor journalist who has to make the rounds shuttling from venue to venue to catch the latest acts breaking out of anonymity. But not too much pity. There was a lot of great music out there, and for those lucky enough to catch the Next Big Thing, the thrill can be intoxicating.

Friday night, I got a taste of that thrill, attending a night at the Bowery Ballroom that just got better and better as the night went on. It went something like this: The earnest twang-pop of Drugrug, the Jefferson Airplane-y psychedelia vibe of The 1900, the hard-charging beauties of Sahara Hotnights, the mellow and mournful Alberta Cross, the party-starting Maccabees all leading up to the headlining Delaware-pop (that’s a style, right?) of The Spinto Band. That’s some buffet, huh?

Fortunately, the sheer variety of the acts allowed each act to breathe and stand out from one another. Its easy to get jaded with bands and hype constantly engaged in an ever-escalating arms race. But in the end, it’s the primal pleasure of listening to the endless variety of human musical invention performed live on stage. Little moments and big personalities stand out: The 1900’s Jeanine O’Toole channeling a nascent Stevie Nicks (to say nothing of her formidable hip-shaking); the screaming energy of Sahara Hotnight’s Maria Andersson; the soul-splitting wail of Alberta Cross’ Petter Ericson Stakee emanating from behind a veil of unruly hair; the riotous energy of the crowd as they jumped around to the infectiously upbeat Maccabees.

By the end, I was exhausted, a little drunk, but overjoyed by the overwhelming tide of talent that CMJ had brought forth. No matter your taste, you’ll find something you’ll like. And if you’re lucky, on any given night at CMJ, you like everything you find!


The 1900's

Maria Andersson of Sahara Hotnights

Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees

Petter Stakee of Alberta Cross

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