Sunday, November 20, 2011

CMJ & New York City (October 19, 2011)

Portugal The Man @ Ace Hotel: photo by Michael Ligon
  Portugal The Man @ Ace Hotel, NYC: photo by Michael Ligon

If it had to rain, then I'm glad it was at the beginning of my trip. More thankfully, I'm glad it only rained once the whole five days I was in New York City last month. Given the rain, I was confined to mostly indoor activities. With umbrella in hand, and rain jacket on (yes, I came prepared), I took off that morning to head to the Ace Hotel in midtown Manhattan for KEXP's "Free Yr Radio" CMJ sessions, and then for whatever randomness the day could bring. Overall I think I made the most of what was a soggy day.

Things I did / saw / heard / ate:

- an Americano and toasted bagel with Nutella (although I didn't eat the bagel until much later in the day) at Think Coffee on Bowery St. down the street from my hotel.
- saw the Joey Ramone street sign at the corner of Bowery and East Second Street, (down the street from the original location of CBGB's.)
- watched local bluegrass outfit Ebony Hillbillies busking at the subway station as part of the city's Music Under New York series.
- Flatiron building at 23rd and Broadway [funny thing is I didn't realize that Shake Shack was just across the street]
- Flatiron Prow Artspace which is a glass-enclosed space at the base of the Flatiron building which was hosting "The Cup Drawings", an installation by artist Gwyneth Leech who draws on upcycled take-out paper coffee cups and suspends them by string
- The Ramones tribute in front window display of the Guitar Center on 14th Street in Manhattan
- Urban Outfitters @ 14th and 6th
- Portugal The Man performing in the lobby of the Ace Hotel as part of KEXP's "Free Yr Radio" CMJ sessions; the hotel itself is a boutique hotel which I'd have loved to have stayed in; it had such a cool ambience.
- had the most delicious pulled pork sandwich at No. 7 Sub just around the corner from the Ace Hotel
- Puma Store, Union Square location for the CMJ Spin Sessions with Washington, D.C. rock band U.S. Royalty [not my thing, but they were decent] and San Franciscan shoegaze trio Weekend who fared better with my musical tastes [I'm biased].
- bottled apple cider at the Union Square Farmer's Market
- off to Brooklyn to catch the tailend of Conneticut psych-funk outfit The Stepkids' set at Public Assembly as part of Under The Radar's free CMJ day party.
- rest back at the hotel
- headed to Santos Party House at Canal and Lafayette but got denied entry because I hadn't RSVP'd; grabbed a coffee Starbucks and went back to Santos but they still wouldn't let me in.
- headed to Pianos and caught a few acts on the upper floor including the electro-pop chanteuse Erika Springs (of Au Revoir Simone) [I'd wished I'd caught her whole set - it was good], and local indie act Dinosaur Feathers whose melodies and musicianship were impressive.
- decided to try my luck and head back to Santos Party House to see if I could get in - success!; finished off the night seeing Los Angeles duo (backed with a band) Inc who seemed to specialize in funk, r n' b and soul for a new generation, and a headlining set from Brooklyn resident George Lewis Jr. aka Twin Shadow

Photos: CMJ & New York City (October 19, 2011)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CMJ & New York City (October 18, 2011)

  Janet Weiss & Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag @ Bowery Ballroom: photo by Michael Ligon

First, sorry for the late posting. CMJ and my trip to New York City in October has already been over for almost a month now, and I've been really lazy getting photos up on my Flickr and posting about the CMJ shows I went to. Overall, it was great to be back in The Big Apple. The CMJ lineup this year felt more subdued than last year, but with the amount of acts I had to choose from, I caught a number of good bands I hadn't heard before. In any case, CMJ is well worth the trip when you have the city and all that it has to offer to fall back on. I hope to get up these posts on a daily basis, although don't hold me to that. Grammar be damned, for expediency's sake, I'm going to shoot this off point form:

Things I did / saw / ate / heard:

- Bowery House (check-in) - good location in lower Manhattan, the hotel itself feeling somewhere between a hostel and a boutique hotel. I got myself a private cabin which basically was a room with a bed and a dresser and that's it but of course I was hardly going to be in the room anyway. The bathroom/shower facilities are however shared, except for the one individual bathroom available if you were lucky to snag it when no one was using it. The price was good and the staff were friendly. I recommend it if you're looking for a inexpensive and clean hotel in Manhattan.
- Ramones-in-front-of-CBGB's poster on the wall of my room - cool.
- New Museum
- John Varvatos Store (@ 315 Bowery St., the site of where CBGB's used to be)
- Chinatown (peanut rice dumpling, hmmm)
- Sara D. Roosevelt Park
- random conversations with others (including one photographer from QRO Magazine) in line outside of Bowery Ballroom trying to get a ticket for the Wild Flag, Eleanor Friedberger, & Hospitality (basically a mini Merge Records fest with local NYC outfit Hospitality its newest signees) show (success!); by the way, the people I met were really friendly.
- locals Hospitality opened the show with a spiky set of indie pop tunes
- Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger almost stole the show with her fantastic set of pop tunes.
- Wild Flag set was an intoxicating mix of musical influences and was really a sum of it's parts ie. the art-rock influences of Mary Timony's old outfit Helium and the punk, garage influences of Sleater Kinney; I'd also perceived a psych-rock influence at times.
- Wild Flag's Carrie Brownstein kicking her plastic glass of beer into the crowd at the end of the main set
- Wild Flag, for their encore, playing covers of Television's "See No Evil", and Patti Smith's "Ask The Angels"

Photos: CMJ & New York City (October 18, 2011)