CMJ Music Marathon 2012 – Best Live Shows: Queen of Hearts, Robert Delong, Natalia Kills, Mykki Blanco, Sky Ferreira, Capital Cities, Maluca, Nina Sky, MNDR, MS MR, Deap Valley
CMJ Music Marathon 2012 has come and gone, but just like last year’s festival it offered an abundance of new artist, new music and fun memories. My partners in crime this year were my good friends Camille Backer from HardCandyMusic.com and Erica Russel from Electrocutieblog.com. We hit a few spots throughout the week-long festival, and though we split up several times during the course of the week, we managed to narrow down a few spots that were showcasing artists that we all wanted to see.
Here is my list of best live acts I saw at CMJ 2012.
Queen Of Hearts - Santos Party House for the Neon Gold Presents Showcase, NYC
I have featured the talented Queen of Hearts numerous times on this blog; we are BIG fans of her luscious electro-pop tunes, so when I found out that she will be making her North American Live debut at CMJ it was a no-brainer that she will be my first choice to start my tour. The Queen started the show with her blissful electro-disco debut, ‘Freestyle’. She continued with the instantly addictive ‘Perfect Mistake’, a track that has quickly become one of my favorite songs. Soon after, she delivered a soulful take of her dark and melodic new single ‘Warrior.’ Then, concluding her short set, she ended the night with the electric, boobastic and synthphonic, ‘Neon’. I was incredibly surprised and more than pleased by The Queen’s performance; she delivered a seductive and alluring vocal live set that kept everyone in the venue transfixed solemnly on her; including myself. Her vocal delivery was pitch perfect and had a soft weightless flow that had everyone in the the room swaying and bobbing their heads. Sometimes the most gratifying part of a live show is seeing an artist enjoying themselves on stage— and one could tell The Queen was loving every second of her performance. I had the chance to briefly meet Queen Of Hearts after the show, and I have to tell you, she is as beautiful as she is talented—and incredibly approachable and very sweet to talk to as well. I cannot wait to see her back in the U.S for another Live gig!
Robert DeLong - Santos Party House for the Neon Gold Presents Showcase, NYC
Robert DeLong was an interesting act. I’ve never heard of him before, but watching his one-man electronic live show I was immediately caught off guard by his talent and the intricacy of his live performance. Armed with a synthesizer, homemade instruments, electronic drum kit and live percussion DeLong started playing a set full of energetic dance songs mixed with EDM beats and pop music. As soon as the first song was over the enthusiastic audience pushed their way to the front of the stage while they danced and jumped to DeLong’s following euphoric dance cut. What sets Robert DeLong apart from any other EDM artist you ask? Well, plain and simple, the man can sing. Towards the end of his set he pulled an acoustic guitar and deliver a soulful last song that grounded and added emotion to his digital live show. DeLong is talented performer that deserves to be seen LIVE! So look him up!
Had problems with my Camera phone so no video. The Clip below is from a different live event..but you get the idea.
Natalia Kills was not a schedule CMJ act but rather a last minute surprise of the night. I found out that she was making a quick stop at NYC’s Industry Bar, and me; being a big fan of Ms. Kills couldn’t pass on the opportunity of seeing her perform live in such small venue. As always, the petite vixen delivered a killer performance . She started her show with the bossy, electro-pop anthem ‘Problem,’ a new song taken from her upcoming sophomore record “Trouble.” She continued with the thriving electro-clash style track ‘Controversy,’ follow by a medley of her hits that included ‘Free’ and ‘Mirrors’ both songs had an interlude that mashed her songs with Eurythmics‘ “Sweet Dreams (are made of this)” and the classic Crystal Waters’ track “Gypsy Woman” respectively. Natalia Kills performance was—as they say, the cherry on top for a great first night.
Mykki Blanco - At Cake Shop, NYC
The buzzing up-and-coming raptress delivered a testosterone fueled performance at Cake Shop NYC. The pitch black venue was immediately fired up once Blanco took the stage. He began his performance with the sinister, head-bobbing ‘Haze.Boogie.Life’ then followed that number with the swaggarific,‘Wavvy,’ the killer track that has fueled her notoriety around the blogsphere. The crowd was ferociously engaged throughout his whole set and tried to sing along with Blanco but were outmatched, including myself, by Blanco’s rapid and fiercely rhyme delivery. Mykki Blanco is a must see live!!
Capital Cities – At Union Hall, Brooklyn
Capital Cities was another great surprise for me at CMJ. I had originally planned to see Sky Ferreira at the Union Hall venue, but when I arrived I found out that the scheduled had been changed. My friend Camille was familiar with Capital Cities so she convinced me to stay, and boy, was I glad I did. The L.A based duo, dressed in denim and floral-print shirts began their set with their electro-dipped cover of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 You’ followed by the upbeat electro-pop track ‘Kangaroo Court’, a song that can easily be compared to any Chromeo jam. Another great song they delivered was the funky and vibrant ‘Good Shit’ a track that climaxed with a mini choreographed dance-off by the two singers. The audience loved the dance-off and complemented the duo with loud whistles and wooo-hooos. Capital Cities is a charming act that deserves attention. Their addictive funky electro-pop jams are tremendously catchy and are nothing short of a good time.
Maluca aka Maluca Mala – At The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
I’ve known about Maluca for a while now. I’ve seen her LIVE a few times in NYC. Her performances in the past have been less than memorable; but boy, has she grown as an artist and as a performer— and her audience has grown as well! Offering a futuristic take on dance-music mixed with Moombahton (a mix of electro and reggaeton music) the Dominican banjee rose (as she calls herself) set NYC’s The Studio at Webster Hall ablaze! She delivered her signature track ‘Loca’ follow by ‘Hector’ and a few other electrified dance numbers from her recently released China Food Mixtape. (Available as a free download here) If you like your music fast with plenty of rhythm and swag give Maluca Mala a chance…she will make you dance!
Nina Sky – At The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
The R&B-Electronic duo Nina Sky (self-proclaimed as Your Favorite Twins) showcased their most energetic performance to-date. I saw Nina Sky a few moths back at their “Nicole & Natalie” record released party –though their performance was lively then, it doesn’t compare to the energetic show they delivered for CMJ. Performing most songs from their current EP, including ‘Daydreaming’, ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Comatose’ and my favorite, ‘Bright Lights’ the duo was in complete control of the audience as they were constantly encouraging and engaging the crowd to sing along and dance to the rhythm of their songs. The crowd went especially crazy when the duo played their 2004 classic, ‘Move Ya body,’ a song that ’till this day, makes me wanna dance. (Grab Nina Sky’s latest EP, “Nicole & Natalie” for free Here)
Sky Ferreira – At The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
I have to admit, I’ve been quite enamored and obsessed with Sky Ferreira’s recently released GHOST – EP. I think it’s one of the best records she has ever released. Mixing pop and indie-rock instrumentation the 5-track EP is perfection from start to finish. Now, Ferreira hasn’t done a lot of live shows, so for me, she was a-must-see at CMJ. As my friends and I gathered front row at the Bowery Ballroom we impatiently waited for the indie-pop-princess to hit the stage. As soon as the lights dimmed the majority of the audience yelped a thunderous scream, it was clear that most people were there to see Sky as well. As smoke machines filled the air the shy and elusive Sky Ferreira entered the stage. She began the show with the sublimed electro-dipped ‘Lost In My Bedroom’ follow by the electro-charged, ‘Red Lips,’ a song that got the tentative audience all fired-up. She continued her set with two brand new songs called ‘You’re Not The One’ and ‘Don’t Knock Me Down’ off her upcoming long-awaited debut album. Both songs had a pop-rock edgy vibe that pretty much confirms her new sound direction. Ferreira was accompanied on stage by a live band that tightly fused her pop oriented songs with a backdrop of melodic rock and pulsating guitar riffs. She finished her set with the acoustically emotional ‘Sad Dream’ and everyone’s favorite, the sullen track ‘Everything Is Embarrassing.’ Though she had a few pitch issues during the beginning of her set, Sky pretty much stayed consistent throughout the night. She delivered a well grounded live set that I think everyone pretty much loved. Only issue I had with the show was the smoke machines. The staged was completely filled with fog that made it almost impossible to see her on stage. If it wasn’t for the camera flashes I couldn’t have gotten a good shot. CMJ was a perfect place for Sky Ferreira to re-launch her new found artistic vision and I’m glad I was there to see it. I love, love, love this girl.
Deap Vally – At The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
Deap Vally was another highlight of CMJ for me. Delivering a dose of rock and blues the duo comprised of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards left a memorable impression on me. Their sound is mixture of The White Stripes, The Kills with a little Led Zeppelin and some Juliette Lewis thrown in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch their entire set but the songs I heard were enough to add them on my list of best new artist to watch! LOVE THESE GIRLS! THEY KICK MAJOR ASS!!
MS MR – At The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
MS MR’s Candy Creep Show – EP has been on constant repeat around here ever since I saw the duo opened for Marina And The Diamonds back in August—needless to say, this band was another exciting act I had to see live. The mysterious electro-pop-rock duo dazzled the Bowery with their entire set of dark and soulful pop tunes. Lead singer Lizzie Honeypot’s voice has a similar enchanting effect that echos that of Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine but with a much more intriguing, edgier vibe. The duo performed songs from their first two EP’s and previewed a few tracks from their upcoming debut album which sounded very promising. I think we are ALL gonna be very pleased when their debut record arrives! Let the Candy Creep Show continue!!
MNDR - At The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
I’ve been a fan of Amanda Warner for years now, so I have nothing but positive things to say about MNDR‘s CMJ gig. Her live show was simply amazing. As soon as she took the stage, right-off-the-bat she danced her butt off throughout her entire, almost 45min set. She performed songs from her brand new debut LP, Feed Me Diamonds, and one of my favorite cuts by her, the 80′s new-wave dance cut ‘Cut Me Out.’ There is something captivatingly charming about Amanda when she is performing —it’s like watching your best friend on stage. I jut Love her!
Lastly, my friend Camille and I (accompanied by our friend Anthony from TLC-music blog) ended our CMJ tour at a nightclub called DL in NYC’s Lower East Side. The club’s rooftop was hosting a CMJ after party were the incredible Viceroy and Goldroom were DJing the entire night! Needless to say…we danced the night away.
…….’till next year, CMJ!
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