Live Review: Friday At CMJ – BestNewBands.coms Showcase At The Flat

 

New York – After two days of non-stop music consumption, I couldn’t decide who to see on Thursday, so in the end I took the night off and rested up for Friday, which was our second and final official CMJ 2013 showcase of the marathon It was another good one. This time, people gathered at neighborhood cocktail lounge joint The Flat. I’ve always seen a wide array of characters in and around this place, and it gets warm pretty quick on a chilly night, so I already had the expectation that this could be a cozy (i.e. sweaty) show with more local bands I love right in front of me, melting my face off. The lighting is so dim that trying to take good photos was nugatory for the most part, but I was too busy dancing anyway.

Haybaby melted my face the most, like really killed it at the end. Going back to my criteria of sweaty equaling awesome at a show, their set was the moment. The first time I saw them was back at Union Pool and I was feeling it then (I still have my Haybaby oversized tank top), but they really took it to another level this night, making me feel all proud and happy at how everything turned out. Maybe it was the smaller room with closer walls, the sound system, the crowd of people all right up to the front of the stage, random drunks yelling out nonsense, or all of that, but Haybaby played so strong I imagined the walls just crumbling. Their original drummer has taken a hiatus in California, which is a little bit of a bum out because I really liked his songs in their repertoire, but they still have plenty of jams. “What If I’m” was the closer, featuring Leslie Hong really ripping it out vocally. I’m going to go ahead and declare that this isn’t the last you’ll hear about them on BestNewBands.com.

Caged Animals was a major draw of the night, sounding more polished than ever. They had recently toured with Darwin Deez around the country, honing their new songs off new record In The Land Of Giants, and their set at The Flat was like a heartwarming rock lullaby that gradually notched it up all the way through. They started with single “Too Much Dark,” after front man requested we all hold our arms up and close our eyes, in a rare bonding moment that set the mood for their whole set.

Becoming one of the most influential underground bands in the current Brooklyn scene, Veda Rays are everywhere, sometimes multiple places at once. Well, almost. Every time I see them they’ve evolved in a different way and have written 387 more songs, or thereabouts. These men are not your average musicians. They create this mysterious ambiance every time they play, with their own sound of alternative dark wave noir. They’ve also just added two new members, filling out the band with live synth and bass, so they’re working with more texture than ever on new tunes like “Below the Stars” and “Wait For Teeth To Show.”

Opening the show was Brooklyn by way of Virginia garage shoegaze band Surfing. Jason Gates of Veda Rays was the one to bring this band to my attention, and after listening and liking what I heard; they became a fitting addition to our showcase. They’re another band who does 90s alternative right, and Jordan’s vocals actually remind me a little of Velocity Girl, another slightly obscure reference for the 90s child. Yes, it’s 2013 and everybody’s doing it to some degree, but not everyone makes you feel good about it. Surfing does.