[Dixielandjazz] What Turns The Younger Audiences On?
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 3 06:45:36 PST 2006
CAVEAT: THIS IS NOT OKOM. . . BUT, it relates to young audiences and may be
interesting to those few of us who perform regularly in their venues. IF NOT
INTERESTED, PLEASE DELETE NOW.
Jon Pareles, music critic for the NY Times recaps some of the music at the
first 2 days of the CMJ Music Marathon (Showcase) in NYC. There is a common
thread as to what turns the kids on. DANCING, VISUAL and/or other
INVOLVEMENT with the musical program.
This may not be OKOM, however, in my experience, the basic premise is the
same. Young audiences relate well to OKOM if there is a danceable beat and
visual and/or other involvement in the musical program.
DAY 1 | 11.01 3:33 P.M.
The CMJ Music Marathonthe annual convention, symposium and band showcaseis
back in New York for its 26th year, and onc again I'll be wandering the
clubs for a happy overload of music.
CMJ started on Halloween this year, and on Tuesday night some bands dressed
themselves as their rock-star fantasies. Birdmonster was a supergroup with
Bruce Springsteen, Prince and Joe Perry of Aerosmith; Run Run Run was Kiss.
But for most of the 1000 bands playing CMJ this year, arenas are a long way
CMJ is mostly about the rookies: bands looking for the big or small break.
That break might be a record deal, an opening slot on a tour or a place on a
video-game soundtrack; it might be a clandestine look at a replacement for
that slacker bass player. CMJ is also a kind of victory lap and credibility
enhancer for bands that have made some career headway: bands like the
Rapture, the Decemberists and the Knife, who are on major labels but want to
keep their indie-rock base. When CMJ got started, back in 1981, grassroots
bands were inventing an infrastructure from the ground up. Now networking is
taken for granted, with conventions like CMJ in the fall and South by
Southwest in the spring while the internet hooks everyone up in between.
Panel discussions still offer advice that can be beyond elementary; put your
most commercial song first when you send a demo to a record company, one
executive advised on Tuesday afternoon. Which is why I prefer to spend my
CMJ racing around to hear bands. This year, I'm mixing the new and the
familiar, and Tuesday night's itinerary brought a discovery and a
The discovery was Monsters Are Waiting, a band from Echo Park, Ca., that
slipped an apropos showcase songthe Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored"into
its set at Pianos on Tuesday night. Annalee Fery's high, breathy voice and
slyly gawky moves put an innocent facade on songs with a post-punk
obstinacy. Paced at stubborn mid-tempos, the songs started with succinct
guitar and bass lines that grew imperceptibly and then unmistakably more
frenetic, nicely putting the lie to Ms. Fery's pop nonchalance.
The Rapture, the New York City band that headlined the official CMJ
opening-night part at Bowery Ballroom, showed how a few years of experience
can tone up a band. The Rapture was artier when it emerged in the late
1990's; its feet and hips were in the punk-funk of Public Image Ltd. and
Gang of Four, though like those bands it had more agendas than pure
physicality. On stage, the early Rapture would sometimes stop the party for
something slow and eerie.
Not any more. On Tuesday night, dressed in skeleton suits, the Rapture was a
tireless and single-minded dance band, with post-punk guitar scrabbling
alongside keyboard tones alluding now and then to techno or electro. In a
way, the Rapture was more retro than ever, digging into its
turn-of-the-1980's stylebook. But it was also more fun. Anyone who wanted to
parse lyrics could do so: Luke Jenner hooting "It's the chance of a
lifetime!" in "Get Myself Into It" was perfect for CMJ--but as far as I
could tell, everyone was having a much better time dancing.
DAY 2 | 11.02 2:17 P.M.
Twists and Shouts
Jon Pareles is the chief pop music critic for The New York Times.
CMJ Music Marathon: Oct. 31 - Nov. 4
Strikingly original styles are rare indeed, at CMJ or anywhere else. But
twists and updates, taking music from a recognizable era and adding an
incongruous ingredient or two, were all over the place in the better bands I
heard while club-hopping on Wednesday.
Girl Talk, the band name for Greg Gillis and his laptop, is all about
time-warped juxtapositions: hip-hop with rock with pop. For his mashups,
he's got countless samples, new and old, on that laptop: T.I., Cream, the
Doobie Brothers, Beyonce, Faith No More. And he (or his software) have done
the math to synchronize them: power chords behind rappers, booming hip-hop
drums behind soft-rock. Since he knows that watching someone poke at a
laptop isn't exactly riveting, Mr. Gillis put on a performance at the
Mercury Lounge. HE BROUGHT HALF THE CLUB'S AUDIENCE UP ON STAGE TO DANCE,
and he DANCED himself: jittering around, kicking his legs up behind him,
starting out in a jacket, white shirt and skinny tie and ending up
shirtless. Since the music was virtually all hooksand a new one every 10
seconds or soit wasn't hard to keep the crowd happy.
The Norwegian band 120 Days runs on vintage analog synthesizers and a drum
machine, and harks back to the more optimistic English rave music of the
1980s and 1990s. In long, surging songs that evolve as they go, 120 Days
PUMPS OUT BIG 4/4 DANCE BEATS, anthemic keyboard lines and throbbing major
chords that balloon to fill a room. For one twist, it has a bass player to
give the music more human muscle. And unlike the Orb or the Chemical
Brothers, it has a singerAdne Meisfjordwith a big, brawny voice somewhere
between Bono and the Who's Roger Daltrey.
In a late-night show at the Cake Shop, he belted lines like "Here comes the
feeling/I've lost my vision but I still see everything clear." But unlike
nearly every lead singer in rock, he doesn't feel compelled to sing much;
the songs revolve around the instrumental buildups, not the vocals. As the
music forged one jubilant, uplifting crescendo after another, I kept looking
around for the twirling glowsticks that would have greeted 120 Days at a
Beach House, the duo of Victoria Legrand on keyboard and vocals and Alex
Scally on guitar, reached back to a figment of the 1960's: a realm of folky,
slow-motion pop played with quietly rippling keyboard arpeggios and woozy
slide guitar lines. A more modern touch was the canned rhythm tracks: modest
homemade loops, usually just a few sparse drum taps or tambourine shakes.
The group was casual and nearly amateurish at times, but the slow-swaying
music grew dreamy and then hypnotic. Although CMJ audiences usually can't
stop talking, the audience in the Cake Shop grew hushed as the songs took
Things were more raucous with the Cold War Kids at the Bowery Ballroom. The
band makes the piano-centered songwriting of the 1970's tauter and more
cantankerous. Nathan Willett has a bluesy yowl of a voice, and he's not
afraid to slide it all around the the beat and the melody while pounding out
honky-tonk piano vamps. The band hits its riffs hard, bringing a hint of
hip-hop relentlessness to the songs; for extra jolts, it also swerves
through meter changes. The lyrics ponder God, death, morality and how a love
affair can feel like washday: "Hang me out to dry/You wrung me out too many
times." In an odd setup, Mr. Willett sat at his piano with his back to the
rest of band; the bass player tapped him on the back every so often before
tempo changes. It may have been an original bit of staging, if not exactly a
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