The annual CMJ Music Marathon in New York was in full effect at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night. The big showcase of the night was a mix of European indie-rock with a couple of great acts taking the stage. It kick-started into full gear with England’s latest and greatest, Friendly Fires. This is a band that probably would’ve garnered more hype had they existed a few years ago, because they are cut from the same cloth as Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, and Bloc Party. In 2008, though, they sound both virbant and quaint. Live in concert, they bring a tidal wave of a rock show. You would be wise to see them when you can, because this is an example of a great band that may not be great forever.
They hit the stage at Bowery Ballroom a few minutes after 10 p.m., and launched into an electric set comprised of songs from their American debut LP. Lead singer Ed Macfarlane glided onto the stage with a Freddie Mercury pose that kept the crowd motivated and entranced. Performing their new songs with gusto, seeing the band live is similar to what it felt like seeing those aforemntioned acts for the first time. Highly recommended.
Friendly Fires was so impressive compared to Lykke Li, that I feel they should have been the headliner. Their set was a tough one for the Swedish pop singer to follow. She did a masterful job, mind you, but it stretched a tad thin in comparison. Lykke Li gave CMJ attendees a smart, yet very dark, performance on Tuesday night. She simultaneously evoked Stevie Nicks and Alison Goldfrapp, with almost as much attention to percussion as there was to her soaring vocie.