The CMJ Music Marathon is in full effect. The festival which brings thousands of bands from all over the world to New York City has just entered it’s fourth decade in creating a buzz and boom for bands and artists to break big in the music business. Some of the band’s that have struck gold from this festival you may have heard of – U2, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Arcade Fire, Scissor Sisters, The Strokes – just to name a few. Therefore as bands perform their hearts out to get noticed in blitzkrieg sets and multiple gigs over the course of four days, journalist’s run to get as much coverage without missing a beat, or hoping to not miss who could blow up next.
As there is always a plethora of music acts to choose from in New York City on a given night, CMJ makes it that much harder. After catching a few bands and parties earlier in the day, I closed Wednesday of CMJ with South African rock band, The Parlotones. The Parlotones, who just finished opening for Coldplay in their native country, are a very Britpop and Britrock inspired band. Crafting magnificent ballads and extremely catchy radio-friendly hooks – think Coldplay, Sting, Snow Patrol. The band returned to New York City to headline the Highline Ballroom. Arriving on stage and dressed in all red and black uniform attire, the band looked more like goth-punk Alkaline Trio rather than a tender rock and roll band. However, as soon as they started playing and singer Kahn Morbee began to sing, a new initiative of the band began. The band, who are massive in their native country, selling out stadiums all on their own must have felt a bit strange with the half-filled Highline audience in front of them, but it was immediate that it doesn’t matter if there are 100 thousand people or 100 people in front of them, they are going to give you a performance to remember. Packed with beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks, The Parlotones affirmed they were the right band to catch on that given night. Mixing in covers of Rolling Stones, The Eagles and Elvis; they were a massive crowd pleasure, even with a majority of the small audience hailing from South Africa and screaming in Afrikaans to the band, Morbee would reply “We are a million miles from home and thank you for making us feel right at home.” After an hour and fifteen minutes on stage, it was a performance to remember. The band will release a new album in March and if it gets any buzz here in the US, be ready and warned they will be the next massive import here.