Conflict of Interest Party Concert Review
A music festival has finally arrived in the Big Apple that all young New Yorkers will appreciate. The CMJ Music Marathon kicked off its week-long celebration of music with an energetic, diversified night of free music fused with comedy on October 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the mid-town Manhattan club Rebel NYC. The party, which was put together by The Syndicate and was sponsored in part by such media outlets as Comedy Central and the music blog Consequence of Sound, once again put together an unforgettable night of sound.
Hailing from Los Angeles, indie musical group Kitten was the first act to hit the stage. Having the difficult task of setting the mood for the entire event and performing for a still-filling venue, all while promoting its new EP, ‘Sunday School,’ the group’s Japanese-inspired concrete music seemed to fall to the expected fate of not grabbing everyone’s attention as they were coming through the door. While Kitten deserves credit for wanting to showcase its catchy songs, including ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Kill the Light,’ and 16-year-old lead singer Chloe Chaidez looked comfortable on stage, the group don’t have a big enough following yet to capture the attention of on-the-go New Yorkers. Given time, however, the band will develop a unique on-stage musical sound.
Nanna Fabricius, who goes by the stage name of Oh Land, gave the second performance of the night. At 25-years-old, she has found her place in elecontric music, and was able to capture and hold the audience’s attention in the first fantastic set of the night. Truly making music and not just loud noise, the audience was captured but not only her voice, but her drum skills and soundscapes, which include pots and pans and buzzing flies, as well. She also gave a great visual show, as the drums were set up to LED lights and balloons that featured video projections. Oh Lands’s self-titled EP, which features the song ‘Son of a Gun,’ is sure to become a hit in dance clubs across New York.
After Oh Land, the audience seemed skeptical of the next performer, comedian-singer Bo Burnham. Since many people attend the CMJ Music Festival to see indie music groups, the prospect of watching a 20-year-old comedian during the middle of the Conflict of Interest Party seemed to bore the crowd at first. Many people walked away from the stage, but as soon as Burnham came on, he immediately proved he deserved to be there. Having appeared with numerous comedic greats in last year’s ‘Funny People,’ including Adam Sandler, Burnham proved he could work the crowd with his impromptu dancing, poems and card tricks. He even connected with music-lovers by performing a few songs at the end of the set. Burnham’s willingness to have fun on stage in front of a mostly-older audience and his fearlessness to poke fun at serious, political subjects prove why his YouTube videos have received over 60 million hits.
Up-and-coming pop and folklore band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. was the next group to hit the stage, in their first of seven shows of the week. The audience seemed intrigued by the duo, who wore their typical NASCAR Racing Suits, in honor of their namesake, race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The group seemed at home on stage, singing songs from their new EP ‘Horse Power.’
Seattle-based comedian and singer Reggie Watts performed next, and paved the way for Conflict of Interest headliners Nada Surf. Watts had the crowd laughing with his usual fare of improved stand-up comedy, which was mixed with a cappella rap numbers.
The true highlight of the night was alternative rock group Nada Surf, which formed in New York in 1992 and actually held their first rehearsal at the Rebel. The crowd continuously commented all night that they were excited to see the show’s headlining members on stage, including singer Matthew Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot, to relive their glory days. The band rose to fame after their debut album, ‘Hi/Low,’ was released in 1996, and their most popular song to date, ‘Popular,’ hit the airwaves the same year. The group played Conflict of Interest to promote their new album, ‘If I Had a Hi-Fi,’ which features covers of their 12 favorite songs. Even though Nada Surf didn’t hit the stage until midnight, it was definitely worth the wait to see them play a 90-minute set, featuring all their best songs, including ‘Hi-Speed Soul,’ ‘Love and Anger’ and ‘Always Love.’
The Syndicate definitely made the right decision to host the 12th Annual Pre-CMJ Conflict of Interest Party. Hosted by TV personality/music journalist Allison Hagendorf, the attendees at the completely packed Rebel NYC will definitely remember the fantastic indie music and comedic fest for a long time to come.
Written by: Karen Benardello