CMJ seems to start out the same way for everyone involved – unbridled excitement, unflinching ability to drink your body weight in spirits and the wherewithal to take every cab, subway and Uber needed in order to hear your favorite band play your favorite song. I was definitely amongst kindred spirits Tuesday night at Webster Hall for the Balcony TV Showcase at Webster Hall.
The night began at 4pm, but unfortunately as a responsible adult, I had to work until 6pm. As I walked in, Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Catey Shaw was already onstage, her unique airy yet jazzy voice was absolutely impossible to ignore. Catey had a great stage presence, dancing around and making lighthearted jokes with her band and the crowd. She really set the mood for the entire night to come.
Next up was Stone Cold Fox, a 5-piece band also from Brooklyn, with strong influences from Americana, indie-pop and folk-rock. As a card carrying Folk music lover, this band got my attention immediately. Energetic and upbeat, many people began dancing along and clapping loudly. I got the feeling that this band should be on a lot more people’s radars. They’ll catch on soon enough, I’m sure.
The buzz couldn’t have been any louder when suddenly there was a mad dash for the front of the stage. Up next was a fairly new band called Mothxr, and the buzz was certainly because the front man is actor Penn Badgley. You might remember him best from his stint on the TV series Gossip Girl, “XOXO”, but Penn’s soaring vocals are surely what people will come to remember him by as their band grows in popularity. Their sound is really hard to nail down – a bit of electronica, pop, indie, rock – and surprisingly it works together seamlessly. My favorite was “Easy“, which starts off with minimal thumping bass and transforms into one of the most addictive bangers I’ve heard in recent months. Darren, Simon and Jimmy round out this 4-piece band that is sure to turn a lot of heads in the near future.
After the crowd managed to get themselves together, one of my personal favorites, Tiny Victories took the stage. I’ve previously written a review on their live show, but there was something about this performance in particular that was extra noteworthy. Next to me in the crowd there were two guys dancing so hard I just knew they would wind up bumping into me. As I predicted, they did, but they also started a huge dance party as the band launched into “Mr. Bones”. I think their set was the most I saw people dance the entire night.
I decided to take a short break and run downstairs to the smallest venue Webster Hall has to offer called The Studio. There was a fairly new band performing called Tiny Deaths from Minneapolis that I stumbled onto while scouring the CMJ app to compile my schedule. Comprised of Claire de Lune on vocals and Grant Cutler on production. Claire unfortunately didn’t have her band with her for CMJ, but her bass and synth heavy dream pop sound combined with strong vocals was astounding. I wished that Tiny Deaths were up on the Marlin stage because their music deserved a lot more eyes and ears than it received. Listening to the music, I got the same feeling as when I first saw Sylvan Esso and Poliça live, and you all see how those two blew up. Give it a matter of time, I’m sure of it.
Back upstairs, Little Daylight was rocking the crowd, delivering upbeat pop-rock to a very overzealous crowd. Everyone was clearly enjoying themselves as they performed “Overdose”, one of their most popular songs.
Closing out the night was Tesla Boy, who I also recently covered as part of the Escape Music Festival. Anton was on hand to deliver a dj set as Day 1 of CMJ wound to a close.
Article by: Lesley Keller