If I told you Mercury Lounge’s inaugural CMJ showcase went off without a hitch, I’d be lying to you—just ask the girl who got kicked out for being underage, or the door guy who complained to the rest of us in line that it was only Tuesday. Regardless, Aquarium Drunkard’s lineup was not to be missed, with Chicago-based garage teens the Orwells giving a breakout performance late in the night.
New York’s Foxygen took the stage, and it was like stepping into a time warp. Decked out in ’70s garb and playing music to match, there were moments in almost every song where it felt like Sam France was telling a spooky story. His voice often wavered between falsetto and baritone, and it only seemed appropriate that they cover “The Monster Mash” (even though they didn’t…). The set ended with crowd favorite “Cosmic Vibrations,” which they facetiously dedicated to their drummer for receiving a $100 subway ticket the other day.
The Mondo Boys picked up the slack between sets, DJing everything from rare jazz covers of “Light My Fire” to Rick Ross’s “Hustlin’.” L.A.’s Tashaki Miyaki set up, with their drumming lead singer taking center stage anchored by the bassist and guitarist. They definitely slowed things down with a tempo that hardly faltered throughout every song (think heavy bass drum layered underneath dreamy, feminine melodies), playing “Best Friends,” “Somethin Is Better Than Nothin” and wrapping with their talked-about Everly Brothers cover “All I Do Is Dream.”
It didn’t seem as though many people knew what they were in store for when the Orwells took the stage, except for the group of girls camped out front and center. They blasted the crowd with “Mallrats (La La La)” from their debut album, Remember When, and those aforementioned girls lost their shit. Mario Cuomo humped the drum kit, the ground and the air, and writhed on the floor as his teenage bandmates looked on, provoking the guy behind me to turn to a friend and say, “That dude’s awesome.” The crowd really got going during their aggressively energetic renditions of “Lays At Rest,” “In My Bed” and “Live No One Else.” With such loud hype and intensity coming from a group of young, talented musicians, their set ended extremely abruptly, leaving onlookers confused and yelling that they still had time for a few more.
Photos by Clayton Carr