If Tuesday night was the epitome of all that is irritating and mediocre about CMJ, last night was somewhat redemptive, though I still think the organizers should just gather the best acts and put them in one place. But hey, the evening was so pleasant, in fact, that I don’t even have any bingo squares to mark off!
My first stop was the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea to see Mirah, one of my all-time favorites. Mirah and I go way back. When I first saw her I was in 11th grade and she was offering sex harnesses at her merch table (swear to God!).
I got there about a third of the way through No Kids‘ charming set. They have an energy and irreverence that recalls shades of Yo La Tengo, though not quite as heavily stoner-oriented. It wasn’t the performance of the century by any means, but for a a keyboard-and-drum trio they held the stage well and definitely caught my attention.
And then there was Mirah–who, I should admit in the interest of full disclosure, can do no wrong in my eyes. There were a few persistent sound problems, and she was playing solo, so some of her multi-instrumental tracks felt a little lacking. But other than that she put on a commanding show. Her songs–even in stripped-down form–coil around you like a vine and you find yourself wanting to stay wrapped up in their often strangely haunting melodies forever. But anyway, it was a great show, and she claimed that she just finished recording a new album to be released sometime “not too soon,” but presumably in the relatively near future.
“Dogs of Buenos Aires”
Here’s one of my all-time favorite tribute videos set to “Cold Cold Water,” just for kicks:
Toward the end of Mirah’s set I became involved in a text message discussion with Idolator’s beloved Alex Goldberg about how I was missing allegedly the best show at CMJ. He was at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker and Thompson, and since he used the word “nutty” I think he might have been talking about Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, whose music definitely tickles my easy listening sensibilities. I was unable to tear myself from Mirah and make it downtown in time to catch any of his set, but I did make it for the magnificent Beach House, who I went in being vaguely aware of, and came out loving deeply.
The venue’s fog machines were in overdrive and the band played the entire set enshrouded in an opaque haze, which was a bit distracting but overall complemented their thick, smoky sound.
For whatever reason I didn’t get this band on record, but seeing them and their hypnotic pulsating keyboard sounds live has opened my eyes to their force. I was entirely engulfed by their performance, and couldn’t have been more pleased that I’d made the hike from Chelsea to catch them.
But that brings me back to one of my original talking points: Put them all in one place and on one bill! You can only traverse Manhattan so many times before the novelty wears off.