CMJ 2012 Night 1: Mean Lady + Lawrence Arabia + 'Cheat'

Mean Lady. All photos by Sachyn Mital.

It’s the week of the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and that means you can’t walk two feet in the Village without running into some band, or a hipster or even worse, a music critic.

It's the week of the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and that means you can't walk two feet in the Village without running into some band, or a hipster or even worse, a music critic. But this is after the music conference has wound up for the day, when attendees find themselves freed up and can take in a show afterwards with their colleagues. It's just too easy to see new music and most of it is free with the stylish CMJ badge around your neck. On one hand, unfortunately, many of these music showcases feature abbreviated sets by many bands. On the other, the many small bands means you might hear something new way before anyone else does. At least you would like to think so. In my case, I had my camera strapped around my neck and went to take in and capture some performances.

And so I went to see Delaware's small outfit Mean Lady when they performed at Piano's for the first of their three sets for the week. (Full disclosure: I know the bassist in this band so I didn't come to this event randomly.) Led by Katie Dill, the trio (including Sam Nobles on bass and Brian Bruce on drums) laid down some warm sounds fleshed out by Dill's warm voice, pleasing the audience. But when their final song began with some difficulty, as Dill couldn't get her ear into the tune, there was some awkward waiting while things were adjusted. Fortunately, the audience shrugged it off and Mean Lady thanked the audience, welcoming them back for a later performance.

Mean Lady at Piano's

Afterwards, back on the other side of Washington Square Park, I found myself at the New Zealand showcase for sets by Popstrangers and Lawrence Arabia, whose recent album The Sparrow has gotten a bit of buzz, just as their previous album Chant Darling had when it released in 2010. This isn't the latter band's first visit to CMJ, and despite the accolades, the audience was rather subdued -- perhaps they came more for the free Yeastie Boys beer and savory pies.

Lawrence Arabia during the New Zealand Showcase at Le Poisson Rouge

Following the musical performance, I found something novel on the CMJ schedule, a comedy event not too far away. Tangentially related to the festival, there was a screening of a movie called Cheat related to the book Cheat: A Man's Guide to Infidelity which includes stories from several comedians about their experiences and failures in infidelity. The post film session included short routines from Keith Robinson, Rich Vos and Colin Quinn. Each took time to make fun of each other and the other comedians / hosts of the event, Robert Kelly and Joe Derosa. Quinn was the butt of jokes about his TV show and a claim that he looked like Matthew McConaughey when he was younger. But he made several jabs at the moderator, for looking like the lead singer of Counting Crows, when he echoed bits of "Round Here". The front row in the audience found themselves targeted as well from Vos and Robinson -- if anyone took it personally, they would only have to wait to see how the other comedians laughed to brush it off. That being said, I don't know if the message of Cheat is that infidelity is worthwhile or what but I do believe I will get a laugh or two from it.

Cheat Comedians at the Village Underground

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