Every year, College Music Journal (CMJ) invites hundreds of the music industry’s leading professionals to come speak in New York City, to share their knowledge with students interested in breaking into the industry and followers of “the biz.” The CMJ Music Marathon also showcases over one thousand musicians, exhibiting concerts all throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn for five October nights. In the past, musicians like Mumford and Sons, Arcade Fire, and Lady Gaga found themselves performing in the City’s most intimate venues, sponsored by CMJ, just before breaking into the national spotlight and garnering widespread attention.
I had the opportunity this year to experience CMJ firsthand, listening to Daniel Glass of Glassnote Records and Bill Werde of Billboard Magazine by day and venue hopping from The Knitting Factory to Santos Party House by night.
My 2012 CMJ Music Marathon experience came to a close, however, on Saturday night with a Wild Nothing performance at the Bowery Ballroom, a venue that occupies a building originally built in the 1920’s. Although the building acted as a high-end retail store until its conversion into a music venue in 1997, its old school elements—wide, wooden banisters leading to a balcony view, and its large, stage-encompassing curtain that greets the venue’s guests—create a comfortable, personal atmosphere.
Taking the stage after opening sets from FORMA, Weekend, and Braids, the 5-piece, Virginia-based band began their set with “Shadow,” the first track off of their recently released album, Nocturn.
As the set progressed, Wild Nothing’s influence on the audience brought about clusters of dancing concertgoers. The band’s arrangement of alluring guitar riffs, prevalent bass lines, quick drum beats, and mellowed-out, reverb-heavy vocals hypnotized the venue’s 550 guests into a state of grooving in a way completely dissimilar to many of today’s fist-pumping acts that occupy popular dance clubs. It was this presentation of instruments and vocals that engaged the audience in such an authentic way, focusing the crowd’s attention on the music while also creating a fun, dance-dominated atmosphere.
Coming off a well-received sophomore album, Wild Nothing seems to be heading in the right direction. Frontman Jack Tatum’s tunes translate well into a live setting, and the exposure gained at an event like CMJ will no doubt cultivate the band’s already solid fan base. Wild Nothing’s music has already made an impact on the industry, and their appearance at 2012’s CMJ Music Marathon may prove to be just the beginning.