10 Bands That Will Cure Your CMJ Fatigue

by James Rickman

If you've ever gone deep at a music festival, you know the symptoms: Show Knees. One-Beer Blues. Tinnitus. With its thousand-plus acts, CMJ 2013 is already settling upon the city like an exhilarating but exhausting haze. Even the best of bands can get drowned out as the nights wear on, but there are always those whose dedication to epic live experiences sets them apart. Here are ten bands, ranging in style from punk to EDM to...french horn-driven EDM, whose sets will wake you up no matter how many free PBRs you've chugged.

1. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

You really can't miss with a stage show that somehow recalls Gang Gang Dance and Kiss at the same time. Pioneers of their very own "Noh-wave" genre, Canada's Yamantaka // Sonic Titan take psychedelia, Buddhist iconography, seizure-inducing lights, and detuned guitars and whip it all into an eye-popping whole. Be sure to budget your moshing/gawking time wisely.

See them on:
Wednesday 10/16 at Knitting Factory
Friday 10/18 at 285 Kent

2. Perfect Pussy

Their 2013 demo tape, I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling, instantly evokes basement shows rank with fresh sweat, dark except for strings of christmas lights, windows shaking, overloaded PA bleating away, and the band across the jampacked room discernible only by the occasional upward-flung limb. If you make it to one of this Syracuse band's two outer-borough shows this week, expect to leave with bangs dripping, ears keening, and heart pounding.

See them on:
Wednesday 10/16 at The Flat
Friday 10/18 at 285 Kent

3. Mother Feather

Frontwoman Ann Courtney sings like PJ Harvey, whips her tassels like Ozzy, and generally commands the room like Hedwig. Her bandmates (including ubiquitous local drummer Gunnar Olsen) crank out anthemic, ramped up glam rock. "You bring the hot licks / I got lyrics." Deal.

See them on:
Wednesday 10/16 at Gramercy Theater
Friday 10/18 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

4. The Spring Standards

Huddled around a single mic or spread out across a century-vaulting arsenal of acoustic and tech instruments, the Spring Standards create the kind of harmonic warmth that leaves your mouth hanging open. The local band's old-timey leanings don't stop them from exploring stompy Fleetwood Mac jams (see above) or pounding on a drum set split between the three core members. This is the one time in this whole roundup when I'll allow myself to say, "Be sure to catch these guys before they get huge."

See them on:
Thursday 10/17 at Bowery Electric
Friday 10/18 at Rockwood Music Hall

5. The Long Winters

I first saw this band at a long-ago South by Southwest, by mistake. And before I could figure out that they were not, in fact, the Starlight Mints, I was won over by "Stupid," a song that's about as close to guitar-pop perfection as anyone has gotten since The Kinks. (Frontman John Roderick's banter -- equal parts John Hodgman and Wilford Brimley -- sealed the deal.) This Friday they'll be playing that one and the whole album from which it came -- 2003's When I Pretend to Fall.

See them on:
Friday 10/18 at Bowery Ballroom

6. Lee Fields

Let's Get a Groove On, Lee Fields' 1999 album, once made its way into my band's van. Despite knowing nothing about it, we found ourselves constantly slipping it in the CD player and quoting its spoken intro (in which Fields extols funk back when it was "Allll rough. And nasty. And genuine!"). His voice, freighted with decades of passion and heartbreak -- he's been doing this since the sixties, people -- could induce religious stirrings in Richard Dawkins.

See him on:
Friday 10/18 at Webster Hall

7. The Dismemberment Plan

Obi-Wan-like, the Dismemberment Plan's dissolution, in 2003, has made them more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Back in the nineties, when they were an acclaimed (if overlooked) indie-punk-dance band from DC, singer Travis Morrison and bassist Eric Axelson used to do a little synchronized step-touch routine during their song, "The Ice of Boston." Nowadays, that song is greeted with hordes of fans scrambling onstage in a blur of unabashedly dorky moves. Questlove said it best, when the Plan played Fallon in 2011: "These mofos are tight!!!!!"

See them on:
Friday 10/18 at Terminal 5

8. French Horn Rebellion

You can't make this stuff up: two brothers from Milwaukee channeling school-band geekiness into a super bassy, high-on-life sound they call "Next Jack Swing." Laying french horn solos over all that (2:11 in the video above) makes them the Napoleon Dynamite of EDM.

See them on:
Saturday 10/19 at Cameo Gallery

9. Assemble X1: Transmissions in A & E, Curated by Pat Noecker
Eleven musicians -- including Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), JG Thirlwell (Foetus), and maestro Pat Noecker (Liars, These Are Powers) -- will spread themselves throughout the Ace Hotel's lobby, charged with the deceptively simple task of "working to sustain the notes of A and E." Your job is to wander, letting your feet and ears create your own unique piece of music. If it's anything like Noecker's other happenings, this hourlong performance will be immersive, brainy, and dark around the edges.

See them at:
Saturday 10/19 at The Ace Hotel

10. Dynasty Electric
Following in the stately footsteps of the Beach Boys and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Dynasty Electric offsets its bedrock sound -- in this case, epic electro-dance-pop -- with the spooky glissandos of a Theremin. Frontwoman Jenny Electrik plays the hands-free instrument and plies her limber voice to Seth Misterka's muscular tracks n' riffs.

See them on:
Saturday 10/19 at The Paper Box

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