CMJ is not for those who need two full R.E.M. cycles, and for the third consecutive day, Spin‘s staff members and interns decided to give up sleep to see tons of gigs. Whether remaining holed up in Bowery Ballroom all night for Sub Pop’s buzzed-about showcase headlined by mainstays the Shins, or hitting up the Vice’s Sin-e event for their newest signees, including 120 Days, we were there, ready to report back on the scene. Here are just a few of the highlights from last night’s gigs.
Silversun Pickups were in rare form last night at Pianos, with frontman Brian Aubert thrusting himself onto the crowd, literally and figuratively, coquettishly tilting his head down and eyes up as he sang, posing for photographers, kicking a mic stand into the crowd, bringing a female fan up on stage to intro “Lazy Eye,” and stepping into the audience just before they closed out their set. While “Lazy Eye” seemed to be the final song after an extended jam, Aubert insisted, “We’re not going out like that” and launched into “Common Reactor.” Still mouthing “we’re not going out like that” to the crowd, Aubert finally deemed the set over when coy bassist Nikki Monninger sang solo on “Creation Lake.” ALYSSA RASHBAUM
Punk-rockers the Thermals sweated buckets and stayed biblical with an aggressive, exhilarating set at Sub Pop’s Bowery Ballroom showcase. Most songs were The Body, The Blood, The Machine, and singer Hutch Harris howled through them with shiver-inducing passion. Holy cripes! STACEY ANDERSON
120 Days can make any room feel like on it’s on the brink of explosion, and that was the case last night at the Lower East Side’s Sin-e. The recently signed Norwegian foursome played to a packed house, and although they were evidently upset with the technical problems that plagued their set, it was nevertheless awe-inspiring. When faced with a drum machine malfunction, they ripped into a cover of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and finished up their set with the eight-minute synth fest “Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone.” LAURA MARCUS
Lavender Diamond at Northsix was perhaps the most pleasant surprise I have encountered this CMJ. Lead singer Becky Stark was radiant with her flowing (lavender) dress, oversized flower pin, and big voice. Plus, her quirky comments and bubbly personality made me fall in love with them even more. MONIQUE LAVIE
CSS‘s Lovefoxxx sported a Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation tour t-shirt when she storm-trooped Bowery Ballroom’s stage last night for Sub Pop’s showcase. It was appropriate attire considering the firecracker frontwoman bopped ’80s pop diva dance moves, as if she were standing in front of a mirror dancing for no one but herself, throughout her band’s adorable electro-trash set. Though it’s hard to walk away from songs about Paris Hilton and alcohol feeling more intelligent, Lovefoxxx did issue at least one education lesson, repeatedly translating “butt hole” from Portuguese.
After hitting staples “Caring Is Creepy,” “Girl Inform Me,” and “Pressed In a Book,” headliners the Shins previewed some of the dreamy tunes from their forthcoming album, Wincing the Night Away, including opening track “Sleeping Lessons.” The quirky Albuquerque quartet made little stage banter until midway through their performance, when James Mercer called their set “the leak release party,” referencing the fact Wincing has already hit the web months before its January release date. Marty Crandall even took shots at those who illegally scored one of their new tracks, tentatively titled “Australia,” quipping, “You probably downloaded it while looking at boobs.” JULIA SIMON