The second night of music presented by the CBGB Festival brought a triple bill of indie music to the Highline Ballroom. Lizzy Trullie opened the evening, playing acoustic guitar with another gal guitarist plugged in a few steps behind her side view on stage. Bone thin and dressed in black, Truillie also donned a black Beatles-esque cap to hide her model good looks. She has just released a self-titled debut album to follow the EP Self Taught Learner (2009). Her pared down songs lacked the energy of the recorded work and slower tunes seemed to stand still as the venue came to life.
Detroit quartet Fawn provided a solid rock format in the middle of the line up, with New Pornographer type harmonies to round out the guitar driven sound. Fawn recently released their first full length release, Coastlines, after a few EPs so there was much to celebrate. Dressed in jeans and leather, they were a hard working group with each member contributing to the full throttle music using visual cues to keep things cohesive. However, after a while the collective compositions had little fluctuations or nuances. Feedback buzz and guitar solos would abound, while singers were confidently belting vocals. The catchy song “Pixels” illustrated their indie pop strength, dissolving into coo-ed choruses and repeated lyrics about love turning into lust. Bass player Alicia Gbur graciously thanked their friends Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and told the crowd how they were so happy to be a part of the first CGBG Festival.
Fellow Detroit band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. opened with the pulsating instrumental introduction of “Morning Thought”. The songwriting duo of Josh Epstein (in a white t-shirt and black jeans) and Daniel Zott (in a black t-shirt and white jeans) took to the front corners of the rectangular stage with their drummer Mike Higgins keeping things solid slightly behind them on center stage. PopMatters covered their concert last fall at the Bowery Ballroom, which has a smaller square format and their power pop energy seemed to burst forth from the stage. They were also up and comers gaining notice after the release of their first full length album, It’s a Corporate World, and absolutely thrilled to see the growing numbers of fans before them. This night Epstein shared how he was worried about playing a few new songs of their upcoming sophomore album, since they couldn’t rehearse with all the recent power outages in the mid-West. He also spoke about playing at CBGBs, saying, “I have to tell you it was kind of a shit hole, not like this lovely place with AC.” But AC may have kept things from heating up, as the audience not out of town during the 4th of July holiday week was too thin to get really energized. It also didn’t help that the stage lighting went dark along the edge, a key area for musicians connecting to an audience.
But these new tunes were welcome contributions to the established fan base that was there, especially “If You Didn’t See Me”. The bass heavy chugging beat sent the choruses sky-high with foreboding lyrics, “I know I should feel remorse.” A highlight of the set had to be the fist-pumping anthem, Gil Scott-Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit”, rocking out with love for their hometown. The evening ended with the sweet sentiment of “Nothing But Our Love”, a slower, more deliberate rendition exploding into a powerful statement of music and creative madness.