The ATO Records showcase announcement of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard doing a show from her side project Thunderbitch was perhaps the biggest surprise of CMJ week. Almost every major music reporter, photographer, blogger or industry type was there. The immediate area around the stage was basically all photographers as this was one of the first shows from Howard (as Thunderbitch). And it rocked.
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CMJ Music Marathon is an endurance test. You can collect as many bands as you want—on any given day you can catch way more than a dozen if you are willing to work for it. On the third (and on the fourth) nights, I wasn’t pushing myself. I wanted to see John Grant ‘s newly added set at Rough Trade since I couldn’t make his set at Le Poisson Rouge on the last day. And I wanted to catch up with Quilt who I hadn’t seen in a while. I also got to hang out at Baby’s where a team from Mute Records was on site giving out stickers and albums (I got myself ones from M83 and from The Knife).
With CMJ Music Marathon underway, and PopMatters own showcase being held the same evening, the online music streaming site Pandora hosted a treat for its listeners on October 14th. They welcomed three country singers, two up-and-coming and one a bit more established, to perform at a free show. The genre doesn’t really get represented during CMJ and on top of that, Pandora selected only female artists to perform dubbing it “Women in Country”. The night also doubled as a charity event as money was raised for the T.J. Martell Foundation to help support Leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.
Treating it like a CMJ event, by where I mean I went into the show with the mindset to explore and experience music unknown (to me), I caught sets from RaeLynn and Cassadee Pope, the two newcomers and both participants of The Voice, missing Martina McBride. RaeLynn’s songs sounded weighted towards the more pop-friendly side of country while Pope’s tunes definitely were honed towards country, though her newest single, “I am Invincible” could mix in with Top 40 radio.
RAWR! Burlesque is growing burlesque outfit in New York City led by Dangrrr Doll and Stella Chuu. With their love of cosplay and pop culture costumes, Doll and Chuu came up with the concept of Comic Con Vixens as a tie-in to New York Comic Con holding their first event last year as part of New York Superweek. This year the two brought ‘Vixens’ back, this time with an even bigger lineup of talent on an even bigger stage, that of the Hard Rock Cafe’s in the heart of Times Square. Nerd and geek friendly, RAWR! burlesque’s event focused on “nerdlesque” routines, instances where the performers dress up like characters from comic books, fantasy, manga, sci-fi, or as you can see below, children’s entertainment. You won’t ever look at some of your favorite entertainment characters again when you see some of the costumes these ladies and gents performed in and disrobed from. It was an impressive set of performances and a thoroughly entertaining evening.