CMJ took a strange and unintentional turn for the emo last night – fitting, perhaps, for a rainy evening of canceled sets, sold-out shows, and soggy hoodies. Heading to Public Assembly for mega-hyped rap duo Das Racist, I instead wound up in the venue’s back room watching the cacophonous Kiss Kiss, a New York-based indie band whose dark, angsty pop-punk was given a sense of dramatic urgency by a sole electric violin. The crowd – a group that made me nostalgic for afternoons in high school spent moshing at the Punk Temple – were excited and engaged when Kiss Kiss took the stage, but I cut out midway, in an unsuccessful attempt to see Warpaint up at the street (the sold-out show, headlined by the xx, no longer had the band slated to play).
Switching gears, I headed into Manhattan for Surfer Blood, an energetic Floridian band that that imbued the narrow slant of Cake Shop with swooping hooks and ecstatic rhythms, making good use of their two percussionists. The band pilfers here and there from Tropicália and surfer rock — and bears an unpredictable resemblance to early Weezer and Jets to Brazil. Following Surfer Blood were Crystal Antlers, who played a loose, fuzzed-out set, which I might have called messy if I didn’t think the effect was intentional.
Hoping to see Acrylics and Class Actress, I joined the throng outside Pianos, only to wiggle my way through the packed bar to find the show had already sold out. Disappointed – but excited for these two acts, who surely deserve the attention they’re getting – I took a chance on Mercury Lounge, where Brooklyn-based The Picture were churning out a blend of Brit-pop and the comparatively rougher brand of early-00s NYC indie rock. My immediate thought was that whatever The Picture were doing, Bono already did it better; though to their credit, The Picture’s music is incredibly catchy, if predictable.
In one final, only slightly ironic turn, I ended the evening at Bowery Electric for the Cantora Records showcase, where I had hoped to catch PAPA, a homey, unpretentious local rock group whose drummer, Darren Weiss, also serves as the band’s lead singer (salute to Levon Helm). Much to my surprise, I arrived just in time to find some familiar faces: Bear Hands were closing out the showcase with another tight rendition of jumpy crowd-pleaser “What A Drag” – a comforting if unanticipated end to an utterly weird and altogether random night.
Photo Credit: Rachel Carr/Prefixmag.com