Friday night was exactly what it promised to be – bustling and busy. Arriving 45mins too late to pick up my festival badge because of insurmountable traffic (try weaving your way through Manhattan from 150th St. to West 4th), I was left walking the city three hours too early before any shows started.
I had planned to catch several artists on this night – Soulwax at Irving Plaza, the late Yo Majesty party at Highline Ballroom and Heartsrevolution at The Whiskey. Without my badge to get me into whatever club I wanted, my options were limited – but I took as much advantage on this final night of volunteering for the CMJ Music Marathon.
I decided to spend my night down at The Whiskey because I passed up Heartsrevolution the night before and because Soulwax was $37 for his one hour DJ set. Highline Ballroom was a private party that I did not RSVP for, so this was practically my only choice. It turned out to be a good one at that. While waiting for the New York dance/thrash band to take the stage at the aluminum-foiled Chystie St. space, I was entertained by a one-man-band by way of Denmark – Kalles World Tour.
The grungy looking light-haired composer/drummer, who also served as a human beat boxer, used the entire stage as his instrument. Kalle Mathiesen drummed on the floor, on the mic, and even lifted his shirt to tap on his belly fat. All were recorded and looped before the crowds eyes, creating a show that left most of the crowd in fits of laughter or pretty much dumbfounded. He was entertaining, improvisational and slightly awkward. His 15-minute set also reached its close with a sampling “The Muffin Man” Seriously.
Heartsrevolution began setting up shortly after, with lead singer Lo and her signature fushia eye mask getting herself and the rest of her two-person band a round of Jack-and-Coke’s. She’s incredibly cute, rather soft spoken and pretty fashion forward. A lot changes after she gets on the stage though, when her loud battering vocals become the shows centerpiece. With her Bjork-like shrieking, Lo and keyboardist Ben opened with “C.Y.O.A (Choose Your Own Adventure)” which transitioned into “Switchblade.” You’d think music this loud and dance-inspired would produce some sort of moshpit, though those have been planted firmly somewhere in 1995. A handful of front-row dancers kept the energy going, though, with even Lo herself losing her breathe during at most points.
All in all, the CMJ music marathon proved that though this year’s line-up didn’t quite match the quality of previous years, it still did a great job of introducing the New York club scene to over 1,000 artists, who bought their sound to over 100,000 music fans. Volunteering left me with a couple of hours of work a night – and an infinite amount of possibilities thereafter.