CMJ day 2 pics: Girlpool, Nai Harvest, Ultimate Painting, Be Forest, Literature, September Girls, Ocean Blue & more
photos by Amanda Hatfield; words by Andrew Sacher and Bill Pearis
Girlpool / Nai Harvest / September Girls / Ultimate Painting
The CMJ week day party action picked up on Wednesday (10/22) and Ludlow St is still a safe bet, as is the now-annual Kanine party at Pianos, which this year was co-sponsored by fellow indie label Slumberland and SESAC. A good portion of the BV staff was there -- we posted Flowers pictures already, and pics of the rest of the day are in this post.
Glasgow's Pinact started the day downstairs. Partially due to their two-piece set up and anthemic fuzz rock, it's been easy to compare them to Japandroids, but live they sounded a bit more like early Nirvana (his hair-covered face may have been part of this too). They were good, and definitely sounded full for a two-piece.
I missed SEOUL upstairs but caught the next act there: another two-piece rock band from across the Atlantic, the UK's Nai Harvest. Though he was going through two guitar amps and a bass amp, I noticed the lack of low end a little more with these guys, but they still put on a good show. Some of their songs (like "Hold Open My Head" and "Buttercups") have enough hooks to compete with the '90s indie rock bands they're obviously influenced by, so it'll be interesting to see where Nai Harvest go next. They played a couple new ones and said a new LP is coming next year.
After that, Literature and Girlpool played simultaneously upstairs and downstairs (respectively) and I caught a little of each. Literature's indie pop is clearly UK-inspired (down to the fake British accents) and though bands in this style can stereotypically be a little weak live, Literature were nothing of the sort. The drummer and both guitarists are super energetic on stage, and they clearly have a good time with it. At one point the singer ended up standing on one of Pianos' benches with his guitar out Chuck Berry style.
I ended up catching less of Girlpool than I wanted to (they only have a few songs out so far, it was a short set), but it seemed pretty clear that they do in fact have a lot of buzz behind them. The downstairs room was packed when I got in, but I caught their last three songs from the back of the room. They sounded good -- I wouldn't say they need a drummer but I'd be curious to hear what they sound like with one. They're definitely commanding vocalists though, and their songs are tight. You can catch them again at the free BV day party on Saturday.
The last band I caught at Pianos was another from Glasgow, PAWS, playing the downstairs room. I saw PAWS a couple times when they were supporting their first record, but this was my first time seeing them on the new album tour, and it's clear that they're only getting better. They were easily the most seasoned-sounding band I saw yesterday and a hell of a good time. They also at one point brought out the singer of their tourmates Flashlights to sing backup vocals on a song, and then PAWS acted as his backing band for a Flashlights song. - Andrew
Bill here...Meanwhile, upstairs were Spring King, who make the same kind of shouty, wordy, excited indie pop as Martha and Spook School. They were good. Much more up my alley were Ultimate Painting, the band featuring Veronica Falls' James Hoare and Jack Cooper of Mazes, who basically feed off the Velvet Underground "What Goes On" mode and they do it very well and hearing that style of guitar live is always a thrill. I then ran downstairs to catch a bit of September Girls' set in the main performance space. I'd heard mixed reports of their SXSW sets, but they seemed to have sorted themselves out, as the couple songs I heard sounded great with their harmonies and barrage of guitars.
At that point I was on DJ duty in the downstairs bar and was unable to catch any of the other bands, including Beach Day, Happyness and headliners The Ocean Blue who mixed new songs with '80s college radio hits like "Between Something and Nothing."
Before hitting Pianos, Amanda stopped by Cake Shop to catch Italian dreampop band Be Forest. Pictures from their set, plus lots more from Cake Shop, below...
Be Forest @ Cake Shop
Flowers (more here)
The Ocean Blue