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Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Let’s set the record straight here, the Gallery Bar is chic, but it’s also the most unorganized place I’ve ever been to. They proceeded to let people in… then kicked them all out because they didn’t check RSVP’s at the door. Oh, it gets worse. We then waited in line for nearly two hours just to get inside, and the music started 2 hours late. So those there to see Madlib and J-Rocc had to wait until the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, despite the wait and the disorganized nature of the venue, the Stones Throw cats delivered.


Mayer Hawthorne
Obviously the warm-up DJ, Mayer Hawthorne kept things old school as we were walking into the venue. Spinning strictly old soul tracks, he set the tone for the rest of the night. Not exactly an easy task considering who is up after you. DJ’s are less of openers and more of vibe setters, so if one DJ can’t deliver then the whole vibe of the night is ruined. With Stones Throw, you need not worry about the vibe ever being killed.


Peanut Butter Wolf
When Peanut Butter hits the decks, you know things are about to get serious. While some of the DJ’s were using Serato throughout the night, Peanut Butter Wolf was having none of it and spun the real wax. With a stellar mix of soul, hip-hop, jazz, and funk from around the globe, people started dancing whether they wanted to or not. Peanut Butter Wolf has enough skills for an entire wrecking crew of DJ’s, and frankly puts many of what’s “hot” out there to shame. This stuff is timeless. Not to mention, he’s got style


James Pants
To be honest, this was the highlight of the showcase. I once heard from a DJ’s perspective, that you are only as good as the last record you played. If that’s the case then Pants just kept getting better and better. He understood the crowd in front of him first and foremost, but he was playing tracks that people recognized from hip-hop hits, such as original samples from the likes of Biz Markie. It was like playing musical trivia with this man, but no one stopped moving long enough in order to figure out what exactly he was playing. They got lost in the records—in my mind, a perfect turntable set.


Dam-Funk
One of the newest cats on the Stones Throw crew, Funk brought a different vibe than the rest of the crew. Playing more dance-worthy tracks and heavy beat based down-tempo records. The crowd ate it up just the same. Somehow melding that slow down style into a hip-hop electro jam was beyond my knowledge and grasp of the turntables. Once again, if you run with the Stones Throw crew, you roll with the best of the business. If you can scratch faster than Qbert but don’t know your records, this is a crew you won’t find yourself hangin’ with.


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Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

I had heard mixed reviews about Marnie Stern’s live set. I was told it was either going to be her with a band or her with an iPod. I was praying for the former, and thankfully she delivered, performing with a band that provided the perfect backing for Stern’s optimum shredding. Her records have never completely captivated me, but she is one hell of a performer. Everything is secondary to her guitar playing, and you have to admire that. It’s easy to forget about the quality of song when you’re shredding, but Stern never forgets that if the song is no good, then people aren’t going to listen.


Tagged as: cmj, marnie stern
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Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Despite New York’s no smoking policy, Tobacco is ubiquitous at CMJ; seriously, this guy is everywhere. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will soon. The Black Moth Super Rainbow member just dropped an album on Anticon, full of analog-drenched beats topped off with synth melodies. With pre-programmed tracks forming the basis of the set, Tobacco and a companion switched up synth lines and tweaked sounds to add a definitive human touch. The human element carried into the hilarious video accompaniment as well, which encompassed everything from ‘70s workout videos to ‘80s wrestling. But unless you were there early it was hard to catch a glimpse of what was going on—the unfortunate side effect of the intimate Cake Shop venue.



Tagged as: cmj, tobacco
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Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Despite the bright lights of the big city, harsh reality can quickly creep up on a band at CMJ. Lost amongst the flood of bands featured here (there are reportedly over 1,000 groups performing), Faunts failed to even tread water. Their early-90’s alternative/shoegaze style wasn’t bad per say—they had a really tight sound musically—it just never picked up until it was too late. At a festival like this you have to deliver in the first ten minutes or else you will be written off by the audience, who, in this particular case, were a rather uncompromising bunch—especially when a girl giving away free drinks showed up.



Tagged as: cmj, faunts
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Friday, Oct 24, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

It’s so nice to see that someone like Shugo Tokumaru can still break into the musical market with a sound that eschews pretension and hype. His latest record came out of nowhere and is already one of 2008’s most highly regarded releases. There’s a reason for that. His hushed melodies and virtuosic guitar playing formed the basis of this low-key, but top of the line performance. Backed by a 3-piece band, and a vibrant mix of accordions, xylophones, bells, and whistles, Tokamaru not only left an impression, he left it in his native language (Japanese)—something not many people can break into the American market doing.



Tagged as: cmj, shugo tokumaru
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