Day 4 was arguably my most anticipated day of the festival with two lengthy showcases comprising my entire schedule. First up was SippyCupEverything.com's showcase at Spike Hill in Brooklyn. Sippy Cup Everything is a brand new site created by Mike Caulo, a former contributor to AS Built PR, a company known for great lo-fi/indie garage rock primarily in the Boston scene, but certainly not limited to it. With his new endeavor, Sippy Cup Everything looks to focus on promoting bands from all over the country, helping them reach a wider audience. The showcase featured two Boston bands I had yet to see live previously, The Big Big Bucks and Young Adults. Since I knew I would be going to see them, I decided beforehand to check out the rest of the acts and I have to tell you they are all pretty awesome.
The show opened with Brooklyn's own Little Racer, a band creating simple pop rock tunes that sound as though they should have been cranked out all summer long. The band's music isn't too far from what The Beach Boys may have sounded like in 2010, writing concise, reverb soaked, jangly pop that could be equally enjoyed spun out on psychedelics as it could at a high school dance in the 50s. Dreamy lounge act melodies push the vocals over lo-fi guitars and loose grooving rhythms that is easy to digest and highly enjoyable. Little Racer's set was filled with garage rock light on the noise aspect and heavy with catchy hooks. Their self titled track is a personal favorite of mine, and sounded even better live. Download their debut EP for FREE on their Bandcamp page.
Next up were Boston's The Big Big Bucks who play a burly combination of indie punk and grunge rock that would have thrived in the 90s. With surging guitars that would make Built To Spill proud, the band raced through giant hooks and memorable melodies to the growing crowd's delight. Drummer Mike Tucker was a madman behind the kit, keeping everything together with pummeling accuracy on tracks like "Midwest Twister" and the kinetic groove of "Be A Baby". It's apparent these guys have played an enormous amount of show together, as the connect musically with the greatest of ease. Joseph McHugh's vocals are exceptional, rough and gravely at one moment and sweet and serene the next.
Young Adults took the stage next, a set I had been waiting to see for weeks in advance. Ever since I first heard their upcoming debut album Black Hole, I've been anxiously awaiting to see the band live. The power trio put on a blisteringly loud performance, absolutely necessary for their shoegaze-meets-stoner pop sound. Imagine the heaviness and melodies of Torche mixed with the ethereal washes of guitar distortion more commonly associated with Ride or My Bloody Valentine. With so much noise buzzing through the equipment, the amps screamed with feedback when their wasn't music playing, and I was waiting for some fireworks to explode momentarily. Lucky for us, that didn't happen and the band demolished the audience in a thick storm of swirling noise with bright melodic duel vocals from Dimitri Swan and Chris Villon. Despite the mind bending volume and rush of distortion emanating from the speakers, their vocals were never clouded or buried more than intended. The guys played several tracks from their debut (set to be released on 11/7) including the roaring "Drifting" and "Campfires". I only hope these guys will be around for a long time to come.
My next destination would keep me for the rest of the night, Tee Pee Records official showcase at Brooklyn's Union Pool. Union Pool is a great venue, it's got a standard full bar when you walk in, but the real draw is out back where the venue has a large patio complete with its very own taco truck! The actual show space is connected with a small theater looking stage for an intimate night of stoner and psychedelic rock. Based out of NYC, Tee Pee pulls out all the stops for their showcase, lining up their finest for a marathon of hazy fun. Opening the set was Columbus, Ohio's The Main Street Gospel. The band played four extended jams of bluesy psych rock similar to The Black Keys meets Neil Young in a sweltering desert with a whole bunch of weed. Main Street head honcho Barry Dean is a tremendous song writer, creating soulful guitar rock that dazzles with solos while staying organic to their folk/blues roots. The band played through several of the longer more tripped cuts from Love Will Have Her Revenge, as well as "Save Yourself," a new track loaded with fuzzy blues licks.
One of my personal favorite Tee Pee resident bands, Weird Owl hit the stage next taking the psychedelic trip much deeper as they locked into spiraling grooves and winding rhythms. The band performed with a fill in keyboardist who was more than able to keep up with the bending reality of their sound. The guys rocked through a most impressive rendition of "Skeletelepathic," one of my favorite tracks from their full length debut Ever The Silver Cord Be Loosed, with jaw dropping harmonies from lead singer/guitarist Trevor Tyrell and bassist/vocalist Ken Cook. With their sophomore album Build Your Beast a Fire nearing completion, Weird Owl took the opportunity to perform several new tracks that all grow on their signature sound in new spaced out directions. Set for release in March, I can't wait to hear exactly what Weird Owl have up their collective sleeves.
Hopewell followed up next on the bill, with an energetic set that offered their tribal rhythms and spastic yelps in great supply. Gearing up for their November tour with fellow alternative psych mainstays The Dandy Warhols, the Brooklyn quintet opened with "Good Good Desperation" and a sea of tripped out noise. Their guitars burned slowly with generous blasts of delay and fuzz as frontman Jason Russo wailed away on the microphone. Pounding rhythms sound as though they came straight out of the jungle as the band rocked "Over The Mountain," "Preamble," "Island" and the epic spaced out bliss of "Strangers". Their first live album will be released on November 2nd and is a must have for fans of the band, capturing their live sound perfectly over the past several years. Be on the lookout for my interview with Russo in the next few days.
Mirror Queen (formerly Kreisor) and The Atomic Bitchwax came next, bringing a more tradition metal sound to the show with shredding and fast riff rock dynamics that removed the psychedelic nature from the building. That is until Quest For Fire took the stage. The Canadian quartet played a slow dripping set of dark and dense psych rock that creeps along until eventually exploding in tension and cloudy noise. Chad Ross' vocals float through the eerie ambient buzz, gaining momentum as the hypnotic rhythm drives forwards. Highlights included "Bison Eyes," and "Confusion's Home," whose riff is ripe with Led Zeppelin influence slowed to a snail's pace.
It was my first time ever getting to see Priestess live, and it must be said... HOLY SHIT. Those guys know how to rock a show. While I've been a big fan since the day their debut album was released (I remember waiting eagerly for the store to open) every time they came into town there was some conflicting interest and I never made it to one of their shows. After seeing them completely annihilate Union Pool, I know now... it was my loss. The four piece put on what was without a doubt my favorite performance of CMJ, thanks mainly to drummer Vince Nudo who beat his kit ferociously from the moment their set began. In all the shows I've attended, I have never seen someone pound away at their kit with that kind of intensity, just pummeling the entire thing with brutal fills at every turn. Priestess' sound is metal in the truest sense, but thankfully their vocals are not. Mikey Heppner, lead singer and guitarist has a punky melodic rasp keeps the band from ever sounding cheesy, keeping their metallic rage rooted in aggressive alternative rock. Gigantic riffs were in ample supply on hits "I Am The Night, Colour Me Black," "Lay Down," "Lady Killer" and "Sideways Attack". While I had previously thought of Priestess as a "guitar players band," I was honestly transfixed on Nudo's playing the entire time and will be sure to catch them any opportunity I have from here on out. The band played for a solid hour before closing with "Trapped in Space and Time" to a wildly enthusiastic crowd.