First night of CMJ 2011: Stereogum Showcase at Glasslands

After a somewhat convoluted series of events, I ended up at Glasslands for the official Stereogum CMJ showcase, just in time to see Cuckoo Chaos. The band has more new songs in their repertoire, more electronics, and more experimentalism up their cuckoo sleeves. They started out with some familiar songs, such as “Jesus Flag American Fish” off their recent LP Woman, and then went into new songs that made me wish their second album was already coming out. Guitarist Jeremy Scott showcased much more of his technical leads, guitarist/vocalist Jackson Milgaten set down his guitar to bang on some drum pads, and the band as a whole looked like they thoroughly loved what they were doing. They are skilled enough that they could sound just like any number of bands, but they take it into a whole other territory with their experimentation. That is why they are Cuckoo Chaos.

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Mr. Dream was next with their own experimentation of the snotty punk variety. They scraped their strings with picks and created atonal hum before bursting into their songs. “You guys like big dumb rock songs?” The sing/guitarist shouted into the mic before jumping into a power chord-filled punk rager. The crowd ate it up.

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After some time, the wonderfully eclectic Delicate Steve took the stage. Steve himself was probably wearing the most amazing sweater I’ve ever seen, and jumped around on stage while creating some of the best melodic guitar leads to come out of the current New Jersey scene. I’ve seen Delicate Steve a few times, and every time I just appreciate them more.

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I stayed for headliner Titus Andronicus mostly because I heard from more than one person how amazing their live show is. There must be something extremely potent laced in their anthemic rock songs, because every single kid in Glasslands at this point knew every sing word, and the crowd became a large mass of swirling bodies with fists in the air. Singer/guitarist Patrick Stickles had to eventually put his foot down on a particularly enchanted concert-goer, telling him to please not touch his guitar anymore, and leave his pedals alone. “Gotta handle my business here!” The band did well playing around all the kids jumping up on stage and diving, and at the end of the last song guitarist/violinist Amy Klein sent her guitar off floating into the crowd for everyone to end the show on their own notes.

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All Photos (c) Kelly Knapp