The CMJ Marathon at The Living Room
A window into the Living Room; New York’s hottest bands on display at the CMJ Marathon
The CMJ Marathon is a week-long annual event that showcases a plethora of local New York bands in the most intimate music venues of Lower East Manhattan. Upon walking in, I was kindly escorted to a dimly lit show room by The Deli Magazine’s Paolo De Gregorio, one of the facilitators of the event. As I picked a table, I immediately befriended some folks who came to support the opening act. If it were not for the stage and DT Rotbot gearing up for the first set, the venue could have easily been mistaken for a quiet Italian bistro, with fan-backed chairs and lanterns overhead, permeating the already candle-lit room with an amber glow.
DT Rotbot began their set with enthusiasm. Their lead singer, Akiva Zamcheck, donned a bullfighter jacket and an earnest smile as he humbly introduced his band. While the space was still steadily accumulating its audience, DT Rotbot emitted a psychedelically dark, yet entrancing vibe that filled every corner of the room. The listeners were quiet and transfixed by the spacey guitar strokes, which were gently carried by Allan Mednard’s flurries of cymbal tapping. Patrick Monte briskly alternated between vocals, electric guitar and MIDI, often handling two of the three. One may find the spirit of Syd Barrett in DT Rotbot’s refreshing sound. After the set, the room was more than warmed up for the coming acts.
In One Wind demonstrated a lot of surprisingly fluid chemistry, with the inclusion of Steven Lugerner on the bass clarinet. Max Jaffe was especially fun to watch whenever he was allowed to get intense with percussion. At times, Mallory incorporated some deep synth tones to highlight moments of serenity alongside Angelo’s lyrics about intoxication and the amnesia that follows. Alternation between Angelo Spagnolo and Mallory Glaser’s vocals set a stark contrast in Mallory’s soaring highs and Angelo’s coasting lows.
Julia Tepper paved the way for Friend Roulette, as she emanated with bright, delicate vocals. Julia’s posture as she held her violin and bow at her side added to her finesse. The idiosyncratic set-up with Friend Roulette was their incorporation of two drummers. Kyle Olson seemed to stand out as the more aggressive drummer, while Tlacael Esparza often added to the intensity or wreathed it in suspenseful cymbals. The refrain of On Her Own Tonight hit a groove so infectious that the crowd could not help moving in time.
Doe Paoro began her set with a Tibetan a capella hymn. Language barriers aside, the crowd was infatuated by Doe Paoro’s voice and fearlessness. Her wardrobe was equally unique, as the sleeves of her violet blouse extended beyond the reaches of her hands. Her black skirt was long enough to lightly brush the floor as she swayed. It all worked seamlessly, however, during the climactic moments when Doe Paoro demonstrated her ability to throw her voice up high like a graduation cap, piano keys strolling beside her words.
Cuddlemagic’s lead vocalist, Ben Davis, never addressed the green polo shirt worn around the belly of his double bass as they boasted an instrumental range and a pacifying folk sound. Kristin Slipp’s voice was sweet and crisp, as she sang beautiful similes: “The horizon here is curved like a pill.” In between songs, Kristin and Ben entertained the audience with subtle improv and witty remarks. It was easy to tell that Ben enjoyed messing with his audience.
You Bred Raptors, a masked trio comprised of a cellist, drummer, and 8-string bassist, flourished with marvelous technical skill and unstoppable momentum. One thing worth mentioning was their use of masks for each song they played. Between songs, Peat was a smart-mouth, commenting on the event showing much more prevalent and varied talent compared to other, less memorable nights. You Bred Raptors were undoubtedly an instrumental powerhouse that the audience grew to love.
Of all who graced the stage at the CMJ Marathon, I must acknowledge my proximity to the borders of bias as I admit that Industries of the Blind may have been the gem of the night. A nine-piece post-rock band including two violinists, they sparked such lively response and applause from the audience, multiple times mid-song. Their guitars slowly and gently led the way as jazz-like percussion followed. Then the violins began to elevate, accentuate, and emote within the baroque atmosphere the songs were emanating. They were a treat for those people who decided to stick around.
It is a shame that I cannot possibly include every bit of minutiae during my time at The Living Room. The CMJ Marathon was an astounding showcase of New York talent, with bands that showed high levels of promise. I am patting myself on the back for deciding to come out to this particular event.
For info on bands and further shows at The Living Room or the CMJ Marathon visit the event’s website here.