Day/night number three of CMJ is when the fatigue begins to set in. You wake up to write your recap from the night before, eat a bowl of chili for the third breakfast in a row, barely have enough time to shower and process your normal morning thoughts, and before you know it you’re out the door, off to work, and ready for another day of shenanigans. Night number three was a little toned down, as Thursday seems to be a day to bring things down a notch before Friday and Saturday arrive. I spent night three at Webster Hall for Neon Gold’s show with National Anthem and Chess club presenting a pretty solid lineup of rock and indie pop.
First up in the Grand Ballroom was an in your face rock band from “California, California” as they casually put it, Partybaby. Their name pretty much says it all, as they were lead by the energetic, and visually magnetic guitarist/singer Jamie Reed. His higher pitched banshee vocal tone gives the band an upfront signature sound, but their overall garage-rock guitar sound is its own powerful entity, which pulls no punches telling music fans what they’re all about. It was a little off seeing them play to a venue like the Grand Ballroom early on in the night, but it didn’t seem to phase their performance quality one bit. It makes me wonder how killer they sound in a hole in the wall bar with 100 rock fans like myself who are as nuts as they are.
Machineheart, another California band was up next. More along the indie-pop vibe, the band was impressively strong as a musical unit, with their core sound being that of great guitar tones and effects, which is something desperately missing from the indie-pop world these days. The singer of the band, Stevie Scott (great rock name right?) has a strong and clear live voice, and doesn’t seem to use a lot of backing tracks, which is something I could hear and appreciate immensely. The band might find themselves somewhere in between Bastille, The 1975, and Ryn Weaver, but something I noticed while watching them perform, is that they’re all very talented musicians in their own right, each bringing a unique style of play to the table to make up for a more explosive product overall.
The biggest surprise of the night, was in between sets, I was wandering around the other two stages, when I noticed what I thought was a Jonas Brother wandering around like myself. I don’t know their names very well so for the sake of journalistic integrity we’ll call him Lamar. After texting a friend that I just saw Lamar Jonas in the Marlin Room I headed back up to the Ballroom for the next band of the night, in DNCE, which, unbeknownst to me, was fronted by Joe Jonas. Mind blown.
I had forgotten that Joe had his own project coming up the pop ranks and was part of the show on this night, so while I never thought I’d be covering one of the Jonas Brothers, him and his band were pretty tight, pretty electric, and pretty fun to watch. His chemistry and comradery with his guitarist, a very flashy performer in her own right, was enjoyable to see. You can tell he grew up as a trained performer, and it showed in a positive way. What’s a Jonas Brother’s show without a leap into the audience with a bunch of now grown up former teen fans going nuts? The professional that he is, the mania didn’t throw Joe off his game one bit.
Former New Yorker Phoebe Ryan was up next, and the former NYU student let everyone in the almost packed venue know how surreal of an experience it was for her, claiming “I used to live in those dorms across the street!.” We had met with and seen Phoebe in a private showcase a month ago at The Box, but it was refreshing seeing her in a much larger venue with real fans in the audience. She was much more mobile and versatile in her performance than we last saw, probably due to the much larger stage real estate. The audience ate up everything she threw at them, with her piercingly smooth vocals and her electronic style for songstress pop, Phoebe found herself in a familiar place and seemed about as comfortable as I’d ever seen her. Welcome home kid.
Article: Tom Shackleford