A hearty crew of New Zealand’s finest musicians took over Le Poisson Rouge last night for the NZ @ CMJ showcase. Six bands performed throughout the night, with the first two, Tom Lark and Lawrence Arabia, starting things off on a poppy note.
Tom Lark took the stage with his sweater-clad band to kick off the night. They ripped through their short set, showcasing both a pop and a jagged, indie-rock side, playing tracks off of his self-titled EP. The singer himself seemed rather reserved at the mic, while the other three band members on stage made no qualms about exhibiting just how excited they were to be playing CMJ in New York. “Yeah!” and “Woo!” were regularly shouted into the microphone at the end of each song—they were having a good time and wanted everyone to know it. Lark’s vocals actually sound better live than on the EP, and he emits a more youthful Luke Steel of Empire of the Sun vibe. Considering the newness of this artist, the set was well put together and surely earned him some new fans.
Lawrence Arabia followed, also knocking out a quick but excellent 15 minute set full of songs from his newest album The Sparrow. These super-speed-sets don’t allow for an incredible amount of chatter, yet Lawrence Arabia still managed to work his charms on the audience, thanking them for coming, and hoping “all your wishes come true.” His band was fantastic, holding nothing back given the time parameters, bringing out a violin and saxophone on top of the usual guitars, drums, and keys to try and recreate the orchestral feel of Arabia’s tracks.
Both of these artists showcased a different brand of alternative pop, and both artists represented their country-men well, presenting an intriguing peek into the booming New Zealand music scene.