My Day 2 CMJ festivities entailed 10-plus hours in five locations across Manhattan, from art galleries to oh-so-swanky nightclubs. I began the evening at the Sloan Fine Art gallery (128 Rivington) for Alternative Press’ 25th Anniversary Exhibition. Marking the publication’s history with cupcakes, giveaways, and classic photography, the event featured a group exhibition by approximately 30 musician-artists (or artists using musicians as subjects), ranging from Marilyn Manson to Black Francis to Pete Wentz to Shirley Manson. Created in a diverse range of styles and media, the art showcased some real dual talents — my personal favorite being Shepard Fairey’s “Joan Jett” silkscreen/mixed media on album cover. The exhibition is open to the public through Oct. 23.
From there I headed over for a CMJ press mixer shindig at the luxe Hotel on Rivington — no live acts, but a nice break for cocktails and snacks and conversation. After the brief refueling, it was time to check out PureVolume House @ CMJ event. The (I believe) temporary venue was at capacity — excluding advance RSVP’ers — and for good reason: The night’s stellar line-up included somewhat intimate live sets from Bear Hands, Oh Land, Matthew Dear, Wavves, Two Door Cinema Club, and DJ Skeet Skeet. I managed to arrive just in time for Danish duo Oh Land put on a very well-received live performance (I especially dug the LED-hat), followed by musical Renaissance Man Matthew Dear and his smartly dressed live band. Though getting set up looked slightly problematic, things ran like clockwork once the band got going, cultivating a darkly poppy yet genre-defying tone and powering through expertly, intricately crafted songs.
Next up was Bowery Ballroom for a double-bill featuring The Knocks and Holy Ghost! As expected, a supersized and ready-to-dance hometown crowd turned out for the NYC acts. Hot producer duo The Knocks took the stage for one of their first-ever live gigs, looking quite comfortable with performing for a large audience. Flanked by two costumed/wigged dancing girls the entire set, the guys (decked out in white tuxedos with some sort of glowstick piping) also performed in front of a large video screen that primarily displayed graphics of gyrating bikini babes. While it bordered on “too Miami” for my tastes, it did help to alleviate that pesky “watching two dudes playing with electronic equipment” problem that many dance-oriented artists encounter during live/dj sets. Their bouncy, jangly tunes had no problem moving the crowd, and they worked hard to perptuate a feel-good, party act vibe, even going so far as to announce, “Do you guys like drinking? Because this song is about drinking: It’s called ‘Blackout.'”
Holy Ghost! have been slowly finessing their live shows over 2010 and have achieved a natural onstage ease. The duo were accompanied by their friends/touring bandmates Andrew Raposo (of Jessica 6/Midnight Magic), Erik Tonnensen, and Chris Maher, and like a well-oiled machine, the collective musicanship was tight, seamless, and always dance-floor-friendly. In addition to performing their well-known tracks (“Hold On,” “I Will Come Back,” “Static on the Wire”), they also threw in “a song we’ve never played live before” called “Wait & See.” (Nick Millhiser’s “Jerry Forever”-emblazoned drum kit was a nice touch, honoring friend/fellow DFA-er Jerry Fuchs, who passed away last year.) As a bonus, the crowd helped celebrate Alex Frankel’s birthday with a mass “Happy Birthday” sing-along.
For my last stop of the night, I trekked over to The Standard Hotel’s Le Bain nightclub for the The Bond Music Group’s Nouveau York showcase. In addition to a bill jam-packed with NYC’s hottest disco-flavored DJs, the wow factor was amped up by an amazing atmosphere and some seriously breathtaking digs. Nearly pitch-black inside, with a massive glittery discoball overhead, the main room (located on a high floor of a highrise) featured enormous windows in which to gaze at the city lights down below. (Though unfortunately music-less, the smoking-permitted rooftop is also worth a mention.) I’m not sure at what point in the line-up I arrived (and with constantly rotating DJs in a nearly pitch black space, it was kinda hard to tell), but scheduled were the likes of Eli Escobar, NOMI (from Jessica 6 and formerly Hercules & Love Affair), Jacques Renault, Stretch Armstrong, Justin Miller, and many more. I do know that Brooklyn’s own PUNCHES — who seem to be playing literally every party in NYC these days — took the decks at or near the very end, hyping the crowd and getting all hands in the air. The fashionable yet friendly crowd were down to get down, keeping the dance floor at a constant roar.