CMJ Day 5: Chopped and Screwed


Various Venues – NYC
Live Review: 10/20/12

11 PM – Cameo Gallery
12:30 AM – 92y Tribeca
2:30 AM – Arelene’s Groceries

Above the stage at the Cameo Gallery is a sweeping fixture. A cluster of white strips dangle from the ceiling, refracting light and color from the LED system. The artist can control the pace of the colors from the floor.

However, Don Jones isn’t bothering to tamper with the visual mood. His sound is best described as heavy stoner beats. They are deep bass lines and mellow sampling interplaying with his thick voice. Most of the words are illegible, ramblings mashed together creating a chasm of vocal feedback that only adds to the thickness of the musical air.

After his set ends, blue braided extension haired rapper Le1f comes out, and completely smashes the stoner vibe. His long hair, which he is constantly tossing, touching and fixing, commands the attention of the room.

Le1f mixed a lot of recognizable beats into his sound, such as Drake’s “The Motto”, and more notably, “Mercy.”

When the beat to Mercy started, I recognized it instantaneously, and the crowd starts to scream. But Le1f, starts screeching so much harder. He’s chopping and screwing with the inscrutably introduction of the song, emitting noises, “bbbullleeeeee bbbbullleeeeee bbbbullleeee” that resemble enough of the true song that the crowd knows exactly where in the song he is. It was crazy, he’s going completely apeshit jumping up and down the stage, dancing, and writhing around on the floor. Emily was having a field day taking photos.

When the set ended, we over to 92Y Tribeca. Inside, we caught one obscure opening act before Diiv went on. The lead guitarist and singer comes out sporting a Black Sabbath 1979 World Tour shirt and rebel rocker blond hair. Back stage, I see an equally blond and age appropriate fan-girl taking pictures on her cell phone. The band comes on and goes full into their mostly instrumental punk-metal set. In the center, a small moshpit featuring the oddest mix of hipster girls and guys in plaid shirts pushing at each other. The security guard at stage right keeps waving his flash light on the scene in his attempt to maintain a sense of “control”. Not that the scene was ever out of control, at most a few people next to me got their drinks spilled, and a girl’s dress was ruined.

The last show was at the Lower East Side so we hopped into a cab after the show and headed across town. Deathrow Tull, one of the final acts on display at CMJ 2012 overall, is like if Shwayze met Rage Against the Machine. Lots of the thematics of the songs are about revolution and standing up.

They have a white boy rapper in a fedora hat, a soulful female contrast, as well as a Latin hipster styled rapper. Their attitudes and sounds complement each other well, and the crowd is moving with their funky rap. They’ve done a great job of blending rock and rap together with a unique and fresh sound. To cap off their set, the band went into a cover of The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army.

The lead singer reaches into his jacket and throws free stickers into the air. Lets not forget, these artists still need to sell their original songs. The covers are just for the attention.

All photos by Emily Malan.

via Shibi Murali, 25 October 2012 6:59pm |