Having lived in New York City all my life, I’ve seen my fair share of unique venues, but Wednesday night, Day 2 of CMJ, the Ghostly International/Cascine Records showcase went down at Le Baron, a place I could only describe as a very stylish burlesque club meets torture chamber. The small space was dressed in red and black, with images of octopus and the silhouettes of voluptuous women climbing up and down the walls. At times it was a bit claustrophobic, especially when the crowds started to turn out, making it nearly impossible to leave. But overall, it was a chic environment and the lineup represented well the electronic-rock niche that the two labels have expertly cornered.
I caught Rush Midnight, suave new wave-ish pop act and former bassist for Twin Shadow. He had a coolness about him and kept the audience in his attention, despite his live show only featuring himself and a drummer. He played a few tracks, including “The Night Was Young Enough” which we featured here not too long ago, most off his upcoming EP +1, scheduled to drop October 30th. I wasn’t entirely convinced by his vocals, which sometimes seemed strained, but the music itself was as cool and silky smooth. Next up was Brooklyn-based Selebrities, an synth-rock act steeped in reverb and some droning vibes. Cue in the fog machine and it was full on hypnotizing, especially with Maria Usbeck’s lilting, luring vocals. The best was when she’d hop around on the tiny stage. The last act I saw (as I had to leave early) was Erika Spring (of the band Au Revoir Simone) and thankfully I caught enough of her breathy, dark electro-pop to be made a fan. She had lovely stage presence and wooed folks with songs off her (what I’ve now decided is a great) self-titled EP. I missed out on headliner Chad Valley, but heard amazing things about his set, as well as his other CMJ performances. He’s no stranger to The Music Ninja, be sure to check out our previous coverage: “I Owe You This” feat. Twin Shadow, “Fall 4 U” feat. Glasser, and “Tell All Your Friends“. His debut LP Young Hunger drops October 30th, but is streaming in full on HypeMachine right now.