The CMJ Festival festivities continued for me on Thursday night at the High Road Touring Showcase at Mercury Lounge. A truly interesting lineup from start to finish, beginning with Seratones from Louisiana. This four-piece rock band infused with soul, got the crowd moving as soon as they hit the stage at 7pm. Lead sing AJ Haynes rocked a full blown afro and commanded the crowd with her voice, and made sure to reach everyone on some level from the front, to the very back of the venue, right until the end of their set when she ceremoniously hopped off stage right into the crowd and disappeared into a round of applause. Such a great way to start off the evening.
Up next, Mitski took the stage, accompanied only by her guitar. What she lacked in a band she made up for with reflective lyrics, and a fearless delivery. With minimal banter with the crowd, her set seemed to fly by, and her set ended with a hushed rendition of “Last Words of A Shooting Star” as the words “I always wanted to die clean and pretty” hung in the air during the final note.
Switching gears, Fraser A. Gorman took the stage and proved to be the most charismatic act of the night, engaging in tons of banter and cracking jokes that went over extremely well. His songs were also in the same vein – lighthearted and playful and were a clear contrast to Mitski’s set before. With a wild mop of hair, and looks like Bob Dylan, he won the crowd over easily and was one of the highlights of the entire evening.
Then chaos ensued. London trio Yak took the stage and absolutely leveled it. Garage punk has never sounded as good as it did in this room. Mic stands were knocked over, people caught off guard when lead singer Oli Burslem dove into the crowd twice. Their set was the right amount of insanity that we needed and “Plastic People” was the catalyst that sent everyone over the edge.
Finally the wait was over for the band that most everyone in the room was excited to see. The Maccabees‘ first time back in NYC since their album Marks To Prove It was released and we were more than ready to scream at the top of our lungs. Taking the stage in near darkness, they ripped through their 11 song set, with the lyrics of “Pelican,” “Feel to Follow,” Love You Better,” and “No Kind Words” were screamed by everyone in the crowd.
To close things out, Australian band The Jungle Giants emerged with colorful outfits and tons of energy even though it was well past midnight. Packing the stage with a bevy of instruments. Their music was all driving rhythms and ample percussion that kept everyone entertained into the wee hours.
Article: Lesley Keller