Kicking things off on Friday’s CMJ lineup at Rockwood Music Hall were Brooklyn-based band, Elliot & The Ghost. The surf pop quartet played a short, but sweet set in the packed Stage 1 of Rockwood that made the crowd dance and chant along with their catchy hooks, and killer bass lines. “Bad Enough” and “Peach” were clearly the crowd favorites, and propelled lead singer William Thompson right off the stage for an impromptu jam with drummer Dan Edwards to close the show on a very high note. With the aforementioned “Peach” included in the Spotify “Fresh Finds” playlist garnering over 34k spins, this band is primed to be one to watch in the coming months.
Armed with a plethora of instruments and stacks of amps behind them, Panic Is Perfect played an upbeat and highly infectious set of danceable tunes that won everyone in the room over from the first note. Overflowing from the front of the stage, keyboardist Joey Hassid’s wild flowing mane swirled around him and he punched out some interesting melodies, Jeremy Belzer and Mike Hoffman played a myriad of instruments, David Monzon held his own on guitar and Ty Parker kept things interesting on drums.
Continuing the trend of bands killing it at Rockwood, on Stage 2, Secret Someones were no exception. The quartet of Bess Rogers, Leila Broussard, Hannah Winkler, and Zach Jones absolutely floored me with their incredibly flawless harmonies and immaculate songwriting. They were loud and jolted everyone out of their CMJ hangovers and made a lasting impression with their music.
Back at Stage 1, Alex Vargas was taking painstaking measures to make sure everything sounded perfect before beginning his set. He proved his meticulousness was worth the wait from the moment he opened his mouth. One of my favorite performers I’ve seen this entire festival week, Alex’s lyrics and delivery are passionate and inspired. His voice is just a thing of beauty. Powerful and dripping with emotion, Alex is able to maintain staggering control from the lowest to the highest of notes. His performance is one that I’m sure many will mention as their highlight of CMJ 2015.
Hitting the 12am time slot, Mother Feather was primed and ready to own the stage and make everyone acutely aware of their name. They assaulted the stage and took ample time establishing why they’re one of the best bands coming out of NY right now. Lead singer Ann Courtney is a wild-woman, gyrating all over the stage in a fringe costume, growling into her mic and staring people down. She’s electric to watch, and downright manic, but in the best way possible! Coupled with Elizabeth Carena on vocals and keys and even bullhorn at times, and the rest of the band, Matt Basile on bass, Chris Foley on guitar, and Gunnar Olsen on drums they are a complete force of nature and mayhem. Never ever turn down an opportunity to see Mother Feather perform, you won’t regret it.
Finally closing things out at Stage 2 were the impeccable paris_monster. I saw them perform for the first time last year during CMJ at the much more cramped Stage 1 and this year they packed the larger Stage 2 well past 2am. Drummer Questlove recently sang their praises, noting that Josh Dion, who is a wonder on synths, drums and vocals is something to behold. I can barely type a paragraph without making a mistake and here Josh is playing two instruments in perfect rhythm, plus killing it on vocals. It’s astounding each time I see it happen before my eyes. Another integral part of paris_monster’s sound is Geoff Kraly on bass accentuated by modular synth to coax some crazy weird sounds out of his instrument. They are jointly the embodiment of talent and brilliance flying just under the radar. Something tells me that won’t be the case for long.
Article: Lesley Keller