If you’ve ever heard a Sian Alice Group record, it’s nothing like experiencing them live. Onstage they are much louder, much more abrasive, and much more insanely psychedelic. With a heavier guitar driven sound taking precedent over piano, Alice’s chants worked more as an instrument in the mix rather then serving as a separate entity. It was quite different than what was expected, but you can’t help but admire a band that switches up the live set to be more fitting to its environment. Truly enigmatic—the psych gods would be proud.
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A little too tame for CMJ, Mike Bones would have fit in better opening on a club tour for a band like Sian Alice Group rather than playing to a crowd that seemed to be hyping themselves up for Gang Gang Dance. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him before this show, but he really is an inimitable songwriter, and it’s less about the actual music and more about his clever lyricism. I’d be interested to see him take a full band out on the road and continue to make records on a bare bones level.
The Luaka Bop showcase was just what CMJ needed as the week began to wind down. Instead of taking things seriously, Christmas decorations were placed all over Santos Party House, Tropicalia jams were on the stereo, and Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt was about to commence with less of a performance, and more of a dance party. These guys were concerned with nothing but a positive message and having a good time; a massive amount of relief in a week of bands taking themselves extremely seriously. Basically chanting one-liners and dancing around the room in every costume you can possibly think of, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt involved everyone in the audience. It was by far the most fun CMJ has seen so far, and I’m beginning to think this is the kind of set that will be remembered over all the rest.
After a full day of watching music, it’s often difficult to fully appreciate the last thing you see, which is why I’m going to be fair to the Noisettes. After a few songs, they couldn’t hold my interest anymore, and it’s not because they were bad, but because the liquor induced haze had worn off and my body was failing me. As I was walking out, I actually considered staying as they started to play a ballad (I believe it was “Break Free”), and Shingai Shoniwa’s voice sounded better than I think I’d ever heard it sound before. But Noisettes operate better when they infuse elements of soul music into their songs. The whole artsy punk thing doesn’t quite work in their favor, but when the hooks present themselves, they do so in the same fashion that soul music plays on a hook. And that, despite my tired demeanor, is a compliment in the highest regard.
U-God is the Wu-Tang member that probably gets the least respect out of any of them. Last night at Santos Party House, I figured out why. Has this guy not been paying attention to anything in hip-hop for the past decade? His beats are beyond bland and his rhyming is sub-par compared to everyone else in Wu Tang these days. He kept talking about his new record coming out, and by the end of the show I was wishing he would never release it. Not moving from his position center stage the entire time, by the end of his set it felt like a Republican preaching to an audience of Democrats—nobody gave a damn what he was saying.