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all words and photos: Alyssa Lesser

By Friday and Saturday, CMJ had gotten exhausting already.  Accidentally slept in for half the day before heading to the Fred Perry showcase at the Stratosphere Sound studios.  The show provided a unique and fascinating experience to watch a bunch of bands record – and, of course, another opportunity to hang out and drink beer.  Of course, the only thing that was going to cure last night’s hangover was another beer, anyway.  We reluctantly missed a bunch of great acts that we’d been hoping to catch again (Weekend, Caveman, Widowspeak, Gauntlet Hair etc.), but did catch sets by 1, 2, 3 and Tall Ships.  1, 2, 3’s performance was noisy, poised and impressively polished.  The band sounded live, but perfectly choreographed for recording as well.  The room of onlookers watched as the band and the engineers debated over whether the guitars sounded too sloppy, before deciding finally that it was “fucking rock and roll.”

We tried heading next to the Fader Fort, but got turned away at the door despite being on the list as press because it was “at capacity.”  Hopped in a Fiat convertible and cruised over to Union Square, before heading on the L to Williamsburg.

What came next was a massive line outside Glasslands which was the biggest, sweatiest (in a bad way) shitshow ever.  We snuck next door for Porcelain Raft at 285 Kent, which turned out to be an aurally charming dream.  While Porcelain Raft is just a one-man show, singer/guitarist/all-around-music-man Mauro Remiddi created cloudy soundscapes  that felt perfectly lush in the grafitti-ed depths of the space.

Exhaustion set in fully on Saturday.  At my first CMJ, I was really gung-ho to hop around events all day and night.  Now, as I get older and acquire the sleeping habits of a 60 year old, I find it very difficult to stay out till 4 and wake up at 10 to see more bands (especially on a chilly fall day!).  I heard Fader Fort was a mess again, which really bummed me out as I had been looking forward to seeing nearly all the acts that were playing on Saturday.  We decided to sit it out, with high hopes for the Twin Shadow set later that night at Le Bain.  Little did we know how mistaken we’d be.  Le Bain was the most crowded I’d EVER ever seen it (we’re talking worse than fashion week, maybe five fashion weeks at once) – packed upon packed upon packed.  I pushed my way up as close to the front as I could get and was completely unable to get any photos.  We stood for over an hour and a half waiting for Twin Shadow, through a treacherous DJ set that had non-drunk-or-on-drugs souls plugging their ears and whimpering.  When the band finally came on (well past 1, for a show that started at 10), they sounded great – but I couldn’t deal with the pushy crowd.  It took me another ten minutes to get out of the hellish fire hazard and declare myself officially over CMJ.

It seemed they were letting WAY too many people into Le Bain, and as I left the elevators were filling up with more and more music-hungry kids.  The moral of the story next year might be less events with less people, tighter RSVP lists and knowing when a room is really at its capacity.  While CMJ IS expected to be a shitshow, it’s sometimes nice to actually get to see the bands you intend on seeing.

What did you guys think by the end of the festival?  Did you get to see all of (or any of) the bands you wanted?  Did you make it to the Fader Fort?  Let us know.

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