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Here are a few of the things we couldn’t help but notice at the College Music Journal’s Music Marathon last week.
Bringing your own lights is an effective move that makes you stand out from the thousand other bands. You can better capture what you know as the es-sence of your own music. Weekend brought three long red tube lights to put beside their instruments, evoking electric heaters, warming up their icy goth rock sound. Dance rock band Small Black rely on the chain of lights around Josh Kolenik’s sampling console. It casts a nice beam on the singer as he dances tirelessly throughout the set. Purity Ring have a light within their giant bass drum, illuminating the stage when singer Megan James bangs on it. She also holds a lantern, like the hermit from that Led Zeppelin logo, while bandmate Corrin Roddick plays a weird, pipe-like apparatus with little glowing bulbs on the ends.
Metal is for hipsters
Out of all the “this isn’t cool right now, so let’s make it cool again” things that those pretty hipsters have gotten their hands on, heavy metal might be the most surprising. But hey, it’s the last frontier of irony. While band members like those of The F—ing Wrath still look like your typical metal band — Rob Zombie T-shirts and all — their audience is changing (at least in the Big Apple) to look like models from the American Apparel catalogue.
Interpol and Sigur Ros renaissance
There was a saying about the Velvet Underground that while not everybody bought their album, everybody who did buy it started a band. The same may not quite hold true for the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, but it certainly did seem like a lot of acts were channeling that ethereal ahhh-ing. These sounds came from Weekend, who combine Sigur Ros-isms with driving rock arrangements. The Minnesota band Polica also summoned the angelic Norse sound while adding a touch of autotune and a two-drum assault. The trio Active Child combine their take on the Germanic sound with harps and R&B. Yes, harps and R&B!
Another interesting influence seemed to be Interpol. When that band hit the scene in 2002, every music journo labeled them Joy Division sycophants. But now, young bands like Wild Palms and The Denzels are taking a page out of their more recent predecessor’s playbook with reverb-heavy, jangly guitars and occasional outbursts of wild emotion.
As for our favorite acts of the music-filled weekend, it’s a three-way tie between GIVERS, Totally Enormous Extinct Dino-saurs and the aforementioned Wild Palms. GIVERS’ sheer energy is a true joy. Tiffany Lamson wails on the drums in between playing ukulele, glocken-spiel and singing her heart out. All bands with a second drummer in the front of the stage should have to be as good as she is.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is the stage name of British house DJ Orlando Higginbottom, who wore a bodacious stegosaurus getup with neon dorsal spikes bouncing to his driving beats. He owned the stage, looping fuzzed-out vocals and jumping back and forth between laptop, keyboard and samplers.