CMJ journal: saturday: ra ra riot, birdmonster, the last meat purveyors song ever


I ducked out of the sunny Saturday afternoon to check out Ra Ra Riot at Underrated‘s Sin-é beer, bands, bakesale event. A friend caught the youngish Syracuse band at the Marie Antoinette party and he described them as being like the Arcade Fire, except not Canadian, less pretentious, death-obsessed, and arty. Throughout their performance, I couldn’t help but agree that it was just about a perfect summary. While those are among the characteristics that I admire most about the Arcade Fire, stripping them away still leaves a pretty great band. There are near orchestral backgrounds that charges along with a string section powered locomotives, a funny old fashioned electric piano, xylophone, drums, and guitars. There is even a cowbell solo and plenty of energy onstage. After a little pleading from the stage, the audience fills into the open space left at the front of the room. The band is having a great time and the fun easily translates to high spirits among the crowded room. Toward the end, they play a little rock opera about relocation angst and by the time they’ve finished the players are all tangled up in each other’s cords from charging back and forth across the stage. Stay tuned for their CD, it should be great. Until then, befriend them and listen to their demos [myspace].


Birdmonster start slow and quiet with “Ice Age”, but that only lasts for a couple minutes (listen [myspace]). Soon it’s a full-on guitar explosion accented by killer cowboy booted dance moves. The guys are in near constant motion, dancing alone or with each other, throwing themselves to the ground for maximum guitar intensity, and working up a sweat singing. Peter Arcuni expounds on the pleasure of being a blogger band. It’s a triumphant finish to a busy CMJ for the band as well as for all of the people who turned out for the show. To close, they bust out a couple of oldies (“Night”), debate over the finale (compromising by playing both “Geneva” and “Spaceman”). With no apparent green room to hide in, they huddle at the back of the stage to prepare for an encore. It’s incredibly cute, and their set is a definite highlight of the marathon.

Because I had a birthday party to attend with Murray Hill later that night, my last show of the festival was a quick rush to Williamsburg to the Union Pool. There, I was able to hear Meat Purveyors play their last two songs of all time. I’d been shut out earlier in the year when they played their final shows in Seattle, and assumed that I’d never get to hear exactly what rockabilly punk sounded like. Now I know. It’s just about exactly what you’d think: loud, raw, and healthy.

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