On the road 

Locals trek to NYC's CMJ Music Marathon

New York, N.Y., Oct. 22 -- The Hiss came to the CMJ Music Marathon trying to duplicate in its home country its success over seas. Also in town Wednesday was the Athens label Kindercore. While the Hiss were fishing for a record deal, Dan Geller, Kindercore co-founder (and member of The Agenda and I Am the World Trade Center) said his label was here "to get the kids who decide what goes on [college] radio to see the bands, so they know who they want to play."

At the Tribeca rock club, a cozy joint about the size of the 10 High, Kindercore's initial game plan was apparently to blast its way into the ears of radio programmers. Jet By Day was first to take the stage. Despite some minor sound difficulties and a barely audible bass drum, the quartet's aggressive sound came through with angular, interweaving guitar lines and David Matysiak's wailing vocals.

Former Black Flag/Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, now an A&R rep for V2 Records, checked out the set. We overheard he was heading over to see the Hiss at the Coral Room in the West Village, so we followed suit and arrived four songs into the set.

Playing songs from its new U.K.-only record, Panic Movement, the band motored through a set some claimed lasted only 20 minutes. Something was different about the band -- bassist Mahjula Bah-Kamara had departed. But singer Adrian Barrera spit vitriol from a heavily reverbed mic, while guitarist Ian Franco and bassist Johnny Krawl joined with nice harmonies and drummer Todd Glapin made every beat count.

After determining that Morris was a no-show, we headed back to Tribeca for more Kindercore. Paper Lions was just finishing up. A friend who'd seen the set reported the group played three new songs that showed technical growth, with Fugazi-like guitars and spit-style vocals.

Having amped up the crowd, the Kindercore guys toned it down a notch as they entered their showcase's post-rock segment. Gainesville, Fla.'s Mercury Program took the stage next, followed by an absolutely rad (yeah, I said rad) set by Athens foursome Maserati. Led by Phil Horan's skittering drums, the band proved post-rock could still rock, and rock hard. Reverb-drenched guitars echoed impending doom, apparent rescue, fire and brimstone, and ultimate salvation as they swooned around the crowd, paced by pulsating basslines. They bathed the crowd in enough beauty to cleanse the aggression of Jet By Day and Paper Lions away.

From there, Kindercore moved into the stuff more traditionally associated with the label: twee pop. Brooklyn's Palomar, with its all-female frontline and male drummer, tried to deliver some good-time riot-grrrl twee, but were frazzled by technical difficulties. Next came Denver's Dressy Bessy, fresh off a taping of Carson Daly's late night show, with a fun and soothing set of neo-psych twee.

Hitting the stage at about 1:30 a.m., I Am the World Trade Center -- featuring Geller and girlfriend/bandmate Amy Dykes -- played to the smallest, but most enthusiastic crowd. Despite the hour, Geller ran around the stage Energizer Bunny-style -- clapping, playing the tambourine and doing a robotic DJ imitation. Dykes' dreamy but never quite discernable vocals seemed to fit with the time of night.

Shortly after IATWTC played its cover of the Cure's "Boys Don't Cry," six hours of continuous standing took its toll and we packed it in for the night. Leaving, we noticed that, thanks to New York's indoor smoking ordinance, our clothes didn't reek for the first time in our history of visiting rock clubs. Thanks Mayor Bloomberg!

nikhil.swaminathan@creativeloafing.com

Additional reporting by Ed Beeson.

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