Despite the ‘sold out’ marquee, the Bowery Ballroom was actuallypenetrable last night (Oct. 18); evidence that CMJ ’07 is kickin’ someserious booty, perhaps? Is New York City wearing you down, dearfestival attendees?
But while the venue was chiefly vacant, the stage was a different story — openers the Grey Racedeserve an award for max sonic capacity, squeezing drummer EthanEubanks in a five-foot space amidst every subsequent acts’ equipment.It didn’t faze the recent Unfiltered Records signees as they made lightof the dinky crowd, dropping clever lyrics about the meaning of theworld (“On the Chin”) and giving between-song props to purveyors ofsudsy good times, Miller and Bud. The trio are an odd mix of West Coastpercussion (Eubanks), New York City rhythms (Jeff Hill/bass) and NewZealand wit (Jon Darling/vocals), that, partnered with some demonic popduel harmonies, bring back those days of sweet album-dependent, late’90s alt-rock a la the Wallflowers. But here, quite a few shadesdarker, as broadcasted on the set’s standout track, “Goodbye to You,”which could have been a Queens of the Stone Age B-side.
Next, Stardeath & White Dwarfskicked it up a much-needed notch, blasting a set of Black Sabbath-eraguitars and Animal Collective-quirk that caught the crowd just a bitoff guard. With a stream of otherworldly, blindingly bright lights,Stardeath and White Dwarfs seriously jammed psych-indie from anotherplanet. Of course, it helped that vocalist Dennis Coyne was suited in aBay City Rollers-type leotard, and ahem, hence the last name, isclosely related to another intergalactic being, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne,who is the young rocker’s uncle. Epic wall of distortion ballad “Birth”arrived complete with creepy crying baby sound-effects, while theraw-on-name-alone closer, “Springtime in Martha Stewart’s Head,”spouted crunchy guitar and dizzying cymbal pounding, closely rivalingUncle Wayne’s psychedelic cred.
Later, another youthful Brooklyn-based outfit, Tiny Masters of Today,took the stage. Call it hype. Poke fun at the fact that their friendscan’t get into their shows. But brother-sister duo Ivan (13) and Ada(11) do have an early onset of a true punk ethos. By the second track,they were “Stickin’ It to the Man” and sporting I-don’t-give-a-damnsmiles and postures absent of nerves. The moment of pre-teen zen camemid-set with a track about Dubya and “how much [they] don’t like him,”the aptly titled, “Bushy.” “Lie to the people, but we don’t care /’cause you’re the one with pink underwear,” shot Ada. The now prettyample crowd would have been content with that sweet political stab, butthe siblings then churned out a punky rendition of House of Pain’s”Jump Around,” Ada laboring on the ax and scream fills, Ivan throwingrhymes, “I’m the cream of the crop / I rise to the top.” Word.