By Simon Lazarus Vasta
And now, the exciting conclusion:
2. StageDIIVing @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
By the time dreampop/shoegaze/new wave/post punk/critical darlings DIIV reached their encore (which consisted of early single “Geist” and a cover of Blank Dogs’ “No Compass”), the crowd belonged to them. Heck, the audience was theirs from the moment they got on stage, but by the time the show was over, all free will had been surrendered, all self-consciousness abandoned. I watched from the balcony of the Music Hall as the crowd was transformed from fans to acolytes: indiepop maenads. Grown men and women were moshing like they were at their first all-ages punk show, surfing the crowd in pairs, throwing their fists in salutes of solidarity. A girl with striking green hair found herself onstage for the second time that night, took a breath, and dove back into the fray with a triumphant shriek that could be heard over the drone and thrash of the band.
It was the perfect storm, really; not only was DIIV one of the most talked about groups of the year, they were also something very few hype bands are: actually hypeworthy. And while their debut record, Oshin, certainly is fantastic, DIIV shines live. While they might have started off in a shoegazey, C-86 place, they’re something else entirely now. They’re faster, punkier, pulsing with energy. While most of the gigs I saw this CMJ were met with enthusiastic nodding, DIIV, this alleged “dreampop” band, got the jaded youth of New York fucking dancing. They get it. They’ve got it. What next?
1. Killer Mike goes a cappella @ Irving Plaza
Overall, Killer Mike’s set was a revelation. Between the choice cuts from his latest LP, R.A.P. Music, a smattering of classic guest verses, as well as a stage presence and patter that moved from militaristic to funny to deeply spiritual with relative ease, the Dungeon Family’s best MC delivered, hands down, one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. But the greatest moment of Mike’s performance, and, indeed, the whole 2012 CMJ Music Marathon, was when he launched into best-song-of-the-year contender and anti-government polemic “Reagan” and, after only a few bars, instructed his DJ to cut the beat. Completely a cappella, Mike then continued, half preaching, half rapping the lyrics, letting them sink into the audience’s skulls. We all stood enraptured, hanging on every syllable, watching this rapper from Atlanta verbally disassemble America, assess its moving parts and point out exactly how the whole thing got so messed up in the first place. And finally, Mike shouts, “I leave you with four words:” and turns the mic to the audience. Needing no further instruction, feeling it with every fiber of our beings, Irving Plaza shouted back, “I’M GLAD REAGAN’S DEAD!”
Over and over, meaning it more with each iteration. A fierce, collective catharsis born out of pop music. It’s moments like this that remind me why I’m so in love with the stuff in the first place.
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