CMJ 2012: DIIV and Mac Demarco Go Wild at Captured Tracks Showcase
While Captured Tracks boasts a strong roster of indie talent -- groups like DIIV and Wild Nothing have earned widespread critical acclaim in the last year -- the label's CMJ 2012 showcase at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night was surprisingly uneven. Two bands, Dignan Porch and Thieves Like Us (pictured above), sputtered in front of dull stage lights and idly tapping feet; the other two, Mac Demarco and DIIV, turned things into a deliriously wild show.
Dignan Porch, the showcase's opener, dragged their feet through what felt like a long set. On record, their standout track 'Stream' ("Down, down stream/ The stream that I'm dreaming") has the angsty-yet-sleepy charm of a lo-fi bedroom recording experiment; live, it just plodded along.
After a long set break, Thieves Like Us took to the stage with their dense, '80s-style punk-funk grooves. But the band lacked the atmospheric quality they achieve on such records as 'Bleed Bleed Bleed,' their latest. Singer Andy Grier's voice was flat as cardboard -- a little soul, a la Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, would have pushed them so much higher. While the band was tight, echoing Blondie and Duran Duran in their best moments, they often thrummed along like they were thinking about something else.
The crowd loved Mac Demarco from the second he launched into opener 'I'm a Man,' which is by turns bouncy and slashing. Given its dedication to "anyone with a c–,' not to mention its vamps on Nikka Costa's 'Like a Feather,' we can say we liked it. In a tattered ball cap and a loose denim shirt, Demarco, like his bandmates, looked like a dude who might live in a basement apartment in Queens. "Ode to Viceroy," his tribute to cheap Canadian cigarettes, was made especially believable by his guitarist's screeching Mosrite, while his dedications to his girlfriend ("You're my kind of woman/ My, my, what a girl") and meth-cooking dad ("Dad's was in the basement/ Cookin' up something good") were both sweet and weird. Demarco made strange noises, many of them angry curses hurled upon the New York Yankees (he kept yelling "Derek Gheeeeee-tur!"). At one point, he bounced around until his hat flew off, then he fell into the crowd and smiled. We smiled, too. It was a lot of fun.
If the show began with a dull hum and became a good-natured party during Demarco's set, DIIV rode the building momentum and pushed the night to its swirling, thrashing peak. The Brooklyn band haunts the venues of Williamsburg but sounds more like something out of the grunge-era Pacific Northwest. Their set was a wild surprise, as they retained the washed-out-by-reverb sound of their debut album, 'Oshin,' but added a heavy roar. The band's mastermind Z. Cole Smith, and guitar player Andrew Bailey resemble stoned, angelic Kurt Cobains, what with their blond mops of hair and the huge t-shirts and sweatpants they wear on stage. The two ran and jumped while the kids in the audience crashed against each other like waves. By the time they hit 'Wait,' the crowd was in a frenzy. On 'Oshin,' the song is a dreary afternoon walk on the beach, but last night, it was a hurricane of noise.