On Thursday afternoon, I was out at Queens College, running through some of my music with the student bigband. This was fun but also unbelievably draining, and by the time I got home and dropped off the music folders, it was already getting kinda late -- but it was also Amanda's last night in town, so I quickly refueled and headed back out to meet her at Ace of Clubs for the French/Brazilia showcase. We both got there too late to catch any of the French groups, but the Brazilian rockers Sweet Fanny Adams and The River Raid were both endearing, if not precisely what you'd expect when you learn a band is from Brazil. If there was a hint of CSS or Os Mutantes in Sweet Fanny Adams's slack pop-punk or in The River Raid's cheeky over-the-top swagger, it seemed buried pretty deep. Obviously, not everyone is obliged to fly the flag for the music of their native land, even when it's as rich and as deep as Brazil's -- but on a gut level, even though I enjoyed both bands, it's impossible not to feel that something is somehow amiss when you hear Brazilian musicians play in a rhythmically inflexible style.
According to the official schedule, that should have been it for the night, but as we were walking out, we spotted a girl holding an accordion. We learned she belonged to Kagero, a self-described "Japanese Gypsy Rock" band. Their flier has a quote which compares them to "'Fiddler on the Roof' starring 'Panic at the Disco,'" which honestly did not inspire confidence... but then the acoustic guitarist jumped up on a table and began strumming, and the other members of the group -- on violin, bass, and strap-on marching-band style drums -- circulated through the audience with an all-acoustic prelude. It worked -- we stayed.
Unfortunately, once Kagero took the stage and began playing, technical gremlins began multiplying. The leader's acoustic guitar wasn't coming through in the PA, and the band and sound tech squabbled over what (and who) was to blame. Guitars and DIs were swapped out, to no avail. It was looking increasingly unlikely that the show could be salvaged, but finally the leader made the obvious call -- "Fuck it -- we'll play acoustic." He brought the vocal mic into the middle of the room, and the band came down from the stage to play a truly cathartic set of clap-and-stomp-along Gypsy party music in the middle of the crowd (which at this point was, like, a dozen people). But the energy of the moment touched off a crazy dance party amongst the Brazilians, who also began dismantling the on-stage drum kit, bringing the toms into the audience so they could join in the madness.
And that's when Kagero started busting out some traditional Brazilian songs...
PREVIOUSLY:CMJ Day Zero
CMJ Day One
CMJ Day Two
MORE:CMJ Day Four
CMJ Day Five