It’s important that CMJ shows start on time. That way, for example, I can plan to catch Madonna at The Old Bag Bar at 8:30, and then make it across town to see Michael Jackson at The Pedophile Pub by 10:15. Tonight in particular I’m relying on punctuality, as I have five more destinations before bedtime, but things are running later than a pregnant Kenyan chick.
Free Sol from Memphis finally sets things off with an aggressive spread ending with a proper Rage cover. They’re followed by Brooklyn’s Metermaids, who open with a clever “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” synth rip, and then by Los Angeles MC Shawn Jackson dropping lines about how his money shuffles like Chicago Bears.
A true gentleman, Brooklyn’s P. Casso thanks the soundman, bravely breaking from the hip-hop practice of berating them to crank the mic levels. Be sure to peep my video of this dude dropping “Wise Up” with Homebody Sandman – it might be that new sound you’re looking for.
In the cab ride to the Stones Throw party there’s a news story about Chinese Democracy on taxi television. If there’s a testament to how little music fans should care about Axl Rose, it’s a festival with several bands that have released more than two solid albums.
Of course, in order to see such acts you have to get into shows. I’m not so fortunate at Gallery Bar, where, despite being on the guest list for Arabian Knight, Madlib, and Egon, I’m told to queue with at least 100 sheeple outside. This is typical CMJ; these guys could have swollen a 1000-person room, but instead they picked an artsy lounge that can’t accommodate two-thirds of the heads in line.
I generally hit Bowery Poetry Club at least once on New York every trip. This time my excuse is to hang with Boston rockers Ho-Ag. My schedule is gaining on me, but I stay for long enough to film two songs. Ho-Ag front man and Phoenix regular Matt Parish predicts that fans will flee as soon as they get on, but the opposite happens: these dudes are kind of a big deal down here.
Around the corner at 205 Chrystie I have to pay a $10 cover charge. Here goes another common CMJ scam: bouncers claim that they already allowed in the maximum number of press badges. It’s bullshit, but since the night is aging quickly I give in. The cashier laughs when I ask for a receipt.
Brooklyn’s DJ Boogie unfolds a mess of inventive blends, but gets me back thinking about Guns-N-Roses by melting the Doogie Howser, M.D. theme song into “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Chinese Democracy – by the way – is the cheesiest album name since The Spaghetti Incident. For any band.
Still at 205 Chrystie, London world music mavericks Ebony Bones warrant the unjust cover charge. Anyone who adores the wedding dance scene in Coming to America should absolutely find out when this stylishly unibrowed trio is swinging through their hood.
On the walk to my final stop at Webster Hall I pass the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen – something I’d read about but conveniently ignored, like genocide in Darfur. It turns out that the old Astor Place Tower Records really is a Walgreens now. I’m hammered, so the symbolism pushes me to tears.