Ah, CMJ – week of nonstop showcases, parties, panels, meet & greets, and mild anxiety over whether you will find an outlet to charge your phone. The frantic show-hopping marathon officially kicked off on Tuesday, but in an effort to pace myself I waited until last night to begin my music odyssey.
First up was the Moodswing360 Showcase at The Studio at Webster, featuring, among other lovely ladies, Maluca and Nina Sky.
Uptown mami Maluca Mala, nee Natalie Yepez, brought a brief, but energetic set to the stage. Flanked by back-up dancers – one of whom, Oscar Sanchez, co-helms the Santos 1992 party with Vashtie – she worked it out on choreographed moves reminiscent of In Living Color’s fly girls and cranked out several songs from her latest mix tape China Food. Alas, The Studio’s lighting scheme left something to be desired; Maluca was back-lit for half her set, making it difficult to see more than the outline of her wig unless you were all the way at the front. So obviously, I made my way to the front – couldn’t miss out on that wonderfully weird Dominican Sailor Moon-esque performance of her track “Hector” (sample lyrics: “Luna…Sol…Tierra…FUEGOOOOOOOO!”). One $16 Red Bull vodka was all it took to have me screaming with the rest of them when she commanded: “All my locas make some noise!!”
Next on the line up was Nina Sky, aka Your Favorite Twins. Since their major label debut in 2004, the twin sister duo has been experimenting with sounds across the pop spectrum – ranging from reggaeton collaborations with Daddy Yankee and N.O.R.E. to the more R&B and euro-pop influenced sound of their latest self-released album, Nicole and Natalie. I am a big fan of two-part harmonies (just ask anyone who’s ever karaoked with me) and women who make bike shorts look cool, so I was really feeling this set. They opened with lush, dance-y track “Heartbeat,” which had a 1999 Jennifer Lopez “Waiting for Tonight” vibe – and I mean that in the best way possible. Later in the set they gave us a take on obligatory crowd-pleaser Move Ya Body, which got everybody pretty excited. But the highlight for me, without a doubt, was their cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” (alas no Romy and Michele choreography).
After Nina Sky, we were off to support Que Bajo?!’s Jean Bernabe who provided the sound system for NPR Music’s Showcase at Le Poisson Rouge, featuring Flying Lotus, Death Grips, Buke & Gase, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Flying Lotus just sold out Terminal Five, and his following was out in full force last night to hear the rattling bass and spaced out jazz textures coming out of Jean’s crisp speakers.
After the NPR Showcase and perhaps one too many drinks, I was ready to call it a night – but our Music Editor Isabela Raygoza was still going strong, and she hopped in a Brooklyn-bound cab to check out the Stereogum & PopGun CMJ Party at Glasslands. I hand over the rest of the recap to her:
Back in Brooklyn, we waited outside the venue for a few a) because we needed to recuperate from the music and Vodka-overload we had experienced and b) because Glasslands was waaaaay over capacity and we couldn’t get in. Outside the venue, we ran into a new friend we met at the CMJ Press Mixer, Simon who writes for the NY Press. His crowd — which also consisted of band members of New York dream pop’s DIIV — were smoking some cigs as and they excitedly gave us the lowdown on their hectic night, which wasn’t too far off from ours. Soon enough, the bouncer starts letting people back inside, and we made it just in time to catch NY-Cali riot grrrl’s Dum Dum Girls‘ last blissed-out song. Here’s a candid picture documenting that brief segment of their set.