The Syndicate/Rachael Ray's The Feedback pre-CMJ show at Rebel NYC | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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White Denim

The Cringe, The Union Line, Fanfarlo, White Denim

The Syndicate/Rachael Ray’s The Feedback pre-CMJ show at Rebel NYC, October 19th, 2009

Oct 21, 2009 Photography by Laura Leebove The Cringe
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Because five straight days of nonstop music, packed subways, and free booze just isn’t enough, the Syndicate and Rachael Ray’s The Feedback started their CMJ celebration a night early with sets from the Union Line, The Cringe, White Denim, and Fanfarlo, at the 11th annual Conflict of Interest party at Rebel NYC in Manhattan. The artist lineup was a bit disjointed in terms of genre spanning, but it still was a promising kickoff to the fest.

The Union Line brought a sunny brand of California pop rock that benefited most from four-part harmonies, reverby vocals, and creative percussion bits. A marching band-style bass drum sat on its side and band members played maracas and tambourines to complement the rim-clicking funk coming from the standard drum kit. It was a short set but highlights included the tracks “Pearls,” which featured layered guitars and the whole group chanting in unison, and “Mama Don’t Care,” a harder-rocking track accented by bright piano runs. One of the band’s guitarists broke a string (“We’re blowin’ it hard, man, we don’t have an extra guitar!” one of the guitarists pouted), but they trucked on.

Next up was The Cringe, a totally generic dude-rock band (frontman John Cusimano is married to the night’s co-host Rachael Ray) that, after a couple of songs, had me off to explore the nightclub, a confusing labyrinth of several floors, a few DJs, and the biggest disco ball I’ve ever seen. White Denim went on just after 10 p.m. the night before releasing the band’s sophomore LP Fits (Downtown). The Austin trio zipped through tracks from the new record, including “El Hard Attack” and “I Start To Run,” among tunes from the band’s 2008 record, Exposion. The set was loud and noise often drowned out the vocals, but even if it was hard to understand what he was saying, at least frontman James Petralli made some awesome faces while doing it.

Fanfarlo, sure to be the darlings of this year’s CMJ (seriously, it would take work to avoid the band, which is also slated to play both showcases on my agenda for Tuesday), closed out the night with a short set of orchestral pop tracks from its recent debut Reservoir (Atlantic). It was a short-but-sweet set done well, but not much different from last month’s gig at the Bowery Ballroom. Frontman Simon Balthazar sipped a Red Bull before playing, and later announced that it was about 5 a.m. their time, since they just got in from the U.K. I hope they got a good night’s sleep, because those kids, like everyone else in New York for the fest, have a looong week ahead of them.


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