Black Train Jack @ Asbury Park

The Bouncing Souls hosted a few holiday-week shows in Asbury Park inviting some of their friends to open up. I enjoyed Detournement’s set but didn’t get into Blacklisted live tunes. I was there to see Black Train Jack, coming out of retirement to play a very rare show. There were many BTJ fans representing tonight and they quickly gobbled up all their T-shirts for sale. The band played a great set of songs from both of their albums which the crowd sang along to every word. Rob still shines with his killer voice on top of Brian and Ernie’s energetic guitar work. The show was a blast despite having to go through a crazy rainstorm to get to the venue. A great christmas present.

Pictures from the show.

Leapfrog/No Reward live video

The Wrens 20th Anniversary shows @ Maxwell’s

The most anticipated shows for me (and the rest of the world) was The Wrens playing 3 shows to celebrate their 20th year anniversary. They consisted of the an all-request show, the album The Meadowlands in full, and a final set composing only new songs.

The early set the second night consisted of the album Meadowlands from front to back to a perfect sold out crowd. Between songs they would tell stories of the band and their long history together. I hoped for a “do-over” when they accidentally switched the order of 2 songs, Ex-Girl Collection before Boys, You Won’t. I think it was the second time in history they played Ex-Girl Collection probably due to its difficulty playing a 12 string guitar live. The set was flawless and incredible hearing it all in a live setting with great fans. For the end they let the crowd join them onstage to share the energy of that night.

I was very eager to hear new songs from the late set but they only played 3 new ones. They played all the hits from their albums and played an equally dynamic set. Although sloppy at points you could tell they were having a blast onstage and the crowd reacted positively. They seemed more relaxed and funny this time around and even played “Freebird” when someone inevitable and idiotically requested it. Tonight was one of the best nights in 09 and a clear reminder that Wrens can still put on one of the most exciting live shows you’ll ever go to. Hopefully we won’t have to wait for another decade for a show.

Pictures from the show.

Final Fantasy | Mountain Goats @ Bell House

Final Fantasy opened up and felt Owen was off the mark all night. He didn’t pick up his violin opting to play the piano the whole night which. I didn’t find out until later that he had hurt his finger the night before. The songs were filled with mistakes and sloppy output that prompted Owen to apologize for the set sounding like an Andrew Bird show. Nice one.

The Mountain Goats decided to end their tour with an intimate show in Brooklyn. Tonight they played a larger arrangement of songs from all their albums including his second 7″. They were very energetic on stage and John was as usual chatty on stage. They came out for 3 encores and concluded with “The Sign” without a microphone. One of the best John Darnielle performances I’ve seen.

Pictures from the show.

CMJ DAY 4: Au Revoir Simone @ Bell House

Au Revoir Simone = Beach House + Ariel Pink + Ladytron

The more I listen to their 3rd release the more I love it. I’d think that their recipe of simple Casio loops, drum machine riffs and soft vocals would be played out by now. However on Still Night, Still Light, the lovely trio have finally gotten more confidant with their vocals and marrying them with the warm electronic backdrop. They played much better this time around and the Bell House allowed them to bring out all their antique toys onstage for a rare and special live treat. I still love their simple melodies and so does David Lynch.
Pictures from the show.

CMJ DAY 3: Owen | James Husband | Headlights | Japandroids

Owen = asshole
James Husband = Of Montreal – Of Montreal
Headlights = Maserati + Earlimart
Japandroids = Lightning Bolt + Thunder & Explosions

My guard was down to see Owen after he recently played a surprisingly good set at Union Hall. Unfortunately he decided to sabotage another evening by playing only Oasis covers. Instead of performing to a pretty good CMJ crowd at his label’s showcase, he gave an uninspired and insulting set. I shouldn’t have been surprised, Owen is still a dick.

James Husband played a decent set of guitar indie but I was bored for most if it,

For a band that tours so much I was surprised I hadn’t seen Headlights before. They played upbeat and dreamy pop songs. Really interesting rhythms and good multi-intrument blending. Worth seeing again.

Japandroids simply rocked and finally got the night started. The duo were instantly on overdrive from the 1st note. The sound is intense and just great rock ‘n roll. Despite recovering from the flu, Brian King screamed his head off along with the crowd. This is garage rock with the house on fire. Highlight of the night and a very impressive band to keep your ears tuned to.

Pictures from the show

CMJ DAY 2: Mumford & Sons | Bear Hands @ Mercury Lounge

Mumford & Sons = Fleet Foxes – Band of Horses
Bear Hands = We Are Wolves + Wavves

Mercury Lounge had a line forming around the block to hear the CMJ buzzy band Mumford & Sons. Luckily the venue let me in to catch my most anticipated band at CMJ. Coming from the UK these guys play a country folky pop. Lots of catchy melodies and synchronized vocals with emotion Great set, great crowd, lotta fun.

Bear Hands is a post-punk/indie rock band from Brooklyn. Pretty much got what I was expecting but they had an experimental dimension to their music that held my interest. They had a unique sound and played an energetic set.

Pictures from the show.