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  • CMJ Music Marathon Report #3: Nous Non Plus, Big Bear, Panda Band

    Fri, 19 Oct 2007 12:18:28

    CMJ Music Marathon Report #3: Nous Non Plus, Big Bear, Panda Band - Sold out shows be damned! We head out to the venues less traveled for faux-French pop, rrriot math-rock, psychedelic Aussies and "the box"

    After missing The Rosebuds and Celebration on Tuesday, I thought I'd learned my lesson: show up early, dude. But 30 minutes wasn't enough to get me in the NME show at the Annex, thanks to The Black Kids' wobbly indie dance and the horde of show-goers waiting to ogle at it.

    Big Bear at Cake Shop | by Robbie Mackey

    Turned away yet again, I trudged down balmy Ludlow Street to the Cake Shop, where coed-core, Beantown five-piece Big Bear was prepping for their set; a furious handful of snake-y, math-inspired guitar butchery. Lead singer Jordyn Bonds smacked a tambourine against her hip until it almost broke, rocking and writhing in front of the mic. Guitarist Joel Roston seemed to arrive at his lines through a mixture of spontaneity and insanity—notes tripped over each other, piling up until Bonds would release the flood gates with a massive howl. Small girl. Big pipes. "We're not telling you to," she screamed over a snarled tangle of keys and strings, "we're asking you." An incredibly polite sentiment from an incredibly punishing band.

    Next up was a surprise. Omaha's The Show Is the Rainbow, the whacko-punk monster mash of Dareen Keen, was on at Lit, but either the club was running a full hour ahead of schedule, or he played for about two minutes (not unimaginable for him). So, Boston's Junius would have to do. Monolithic post-metal was the name of the game, as the four-piece traded in the sort of textural meta-noodling of Cave In or the drawn-out expositions of bands like Rosetta. Far from wheel re-invention, the songs didn't pack much of a surprise—or a punch—and the band's sober stage presence was a bit more stifling than inspiring. Thankfully, Nous Non Plus (au Francais!: noo-nawn-ploo) was up next at Midway.

    Nous Non Plus at Midway | Junius at Lit | by Robbie Mackey

    A quick walk landed me in the company of Brooklyn's favorite Ye Ye revivalists, a band so into the schtick that they speak in faux French accents. Impossibly bouncy, and criminally chipper, they jiggled and shook through songs from their self-titled 2005 debut. Joining in on the festivities was a wonderfully sauced, dancing Sonny from Les Breastfeeders, French-Canadians whose accents are totally real. Despite his cries, the band wasn't allowed to do an encore. So the kiss-off set closer "Lawnmower Boy" would have to suffice.

    As soon as the Plus started tossing their gear in cases, the room had almost completely emptied—a travesty, considering who was up next. All the way from Australia, The Panda Band play hiccuped space-pop that whirs and growls—and it damn well better, considering the massive board of effects pedals that rest at frontman Damian Crosbie's feet. The set began with a massive, enveloping wad of delayed feedback, then tumbled into more straight-forward territory. This was the modus operandi for the evening: weirdo curiosities rubbing up against a pronounced pop sensibility.

    The Panda Band at Midway | Camphor at Joe's Pub | by Robbie Mackey

    Next, it was over to Joe's Pub for the Friendly Fire showcase and NY-based maximalists Camphor, led by songwriter and film composer Max Avery Lichtenstein. As gorgeous as anything I'd heard all week, Lichtenstein's voice was complemented by mandolin, keys, upright bass, even an apparatus the Wayne Coyne-look-a-like called "the box," a sort of tape-fed music box that emitted a twinkling, delicate melody. The performance couldn't have left anyone in attendance (which weirdly included Paul Dano from Little Miss Sunshine) any less than thrilled for the February release of Camphor's Drawn to Dust.

    No Black Kids? No Problem.

    —Robbie Mackey

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    Tags: Nous Non Plus, The Panda Band, Junius, Big Bear

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