Dispatches from CMJ

This year, for the first time in recent memory, WESU sent three delegates to CMJ, the conference and music festival held annually throughout New York City. I’m lucky enough to be one of those delegates, along with my fellow Music Director, Adam Isaacson and our Dear Leader Who Rules With An Iron Fist, Avery Trüfelman.

Day 1: Tuesday

Our first stop Tuesday was Pete’s Candy Shop in Williamsburg, where we saw a Wesleyan group, Lyons Den, led by the lovely and talented singer/songwriter/guitarist, Mara Connor, along with Zain Alam, Neo Sora and Sam Lyons. Mara sang several of her own compositions, along with covers of The Boss’ “I’m on Fire” and the Neil Young classic “Heart of Gold.” It was an intimate show, but the whole audience was enraptured by the group. Expect to hear more from them.
Here’s a video for their song “Strangers”.

Next up, we tried to catch The Mountain Goats at the Bowery Ballroom, but as we quickly learned, nothing really goes according to plan at CMJ. For example, we also planned to check out Teen Daze, who were playing two different sets on Tuesday, but we wound up missing both. Flying Lotus was also originally scheduled to play Tuesday, but that was rescheduled for a super-secret show Wednesday night. Finally and most disappointingly, Mystikal‘s set with opener Earl Sweatshirt was cancelled for some reason. Does this have anything to do with ‘kal’s budding porn career? We may never know. We were a couple minutes late for the Mountain Goats show, and badges were no longer accepted at the door, so we moved on to Piano’s where we caught a set from the Louisville group Murals.

Day 2: Wednesday

 Avery left Adam and me to our own devices Wednesday and we checked out the Terrorbird party at the Cake Shop where we met up with our favorite promoter, Karen Moran-Thomas. Also at Cake Shop, we saw a set by transsexual rapper and collaborator with Wes-alum Le1f, Mykki Blanco (pictured above). Mykki kicked serious ass.

We then headed back to Brooklyn to the Grand Victory where we checked out Sidewalk Dave, a group that has recently relocated to Brooklyn from New Haven. I had previously seen them twice back in the Have when they were primarily a folk group. In a conversation after the show, Sidewalk told me that his move to more of a rock sound was in part a reaction against the commercialization of folk by groups like Mumford & Son. I was greatly impressed by his move to rock & roll. As you can see from the photo above, it was a really cool show.

Stay tuned for more…

–Jesse “DJ JBrent” Brent

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