CMJ Day One: Wild Nothing Inaugurate the New Simplicity At Irving Plaza
Better than: How I'll feel by Sunday
Well, it's hard to imagine a more pleasant way to begin CMJ 2010 than this, a half full Irving Plaza on a Tuesday night, before the adrenaline really takes hold, four dudes in sweaters playing staunchly pretty Smiths/Cocteau Twins/Shop Assistants-reviving, anglophilic dream rock with a lot of competence and almost zero banter between songs. Wild Nothing are one of these bands we discussed yesterday--not an unknown, but not quite a full grown thing that people really care about yet, either. Five shows at CMJ will likely remedy that, though maybe more by force of ubiquity than anything else. Texting with a friend about wilder doings across the river, I got this back: "Nostalgic summer jams are super tame, I just like the lines about sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at her parent's house." Pretty much, yeah.
This is, it bears repeating, a band that covers Kate Bush. Whose most immediately recognizable song, "Summer Holiday" (that'd be the one about sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom), automatically makes me think of another song called "This Love Is Fucking Right." We are deep in the comfort matrix here, all gauzy keyboards, plangent guitar parts, and overactive, super-melodic bass playing, front guy Jack Tatum alternately just cooing into the microphone and breathing commands like "just take it in." OK. There isn't much to see and this isn't the Cake Shop, people elbowing for sightlines and spilling out of the venue, but it's definitely relaxing, the music allusive enough to take you out of the wind sprint that this week is already threatening to become.
It'd be the new simplicity, or is, more or less, though one gets the sense Wild Nothing songs require a bit more, technically, than whatever Tennis has to manage when they play live. Certainly it's likeable. There were more couples at this thing than I'd ever seen at a CMJ show before, more handholding too. One guy clutched his girlfriend's wrist with one arm, a GameStop bag with the other. They spent most of the show looking at each other, the bag rotating slowly in time to the music.
Critical bias: Probably should've brought a date.
Overheard: Hardly anything. Lots of meaningful eye contact, though.
Random Notebook Dump: Gonna go ahead and assume whoever had the bright idea of rebranding this venue "The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza" was the same clown who replaced the regular sized Budweiser cans at the bar with those ridiculous 24 oz. ones.