Two more CMJ standouts: Mac DeMarco and Ratking

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Ratking, looking hazy and mysterious
  • Ratking, looking hazy and mysterious
Sometime after midnight on Saturday night, waiting for Yakuza to start their headlining set at a Brooklyn Vegan-sponsored showcase at the extremely cool Greenpoint metal venue St. Vitus, I hit a wall. I slipped out the door, walked the block and a half back to the place I'm staying at temporarily, and passed out. I woke up the next day to what is probably either a minor cold or a bad case of fall allergies, which I'm still feeling now. Like many other people, I suspect, I have been defeated by CMJ, and I'm still paying the price for all the loud music, crowded rooms, and drinking (music-industry professionals can be very generous with their expense-account bar tabs).

Was it worth it? Probably. The other day I mentioned the extremely fantastic show I saw by gothy, postpunky British group Savages, who were one of the most successful acts at the festival in terms of generating buzz. After the jump I've got a couple more of the week's winners.

Mac DeMarco has been attracting attention since his Rock and Roll Night Club EP came out this spring, as evidenced by the vast number of showcases he was booked to play throughout the week. DeMarco's a singer-songwriter with an understated delivery and a vaguely garage-y sound, putting him roughly in the same stylistic neighborhood as Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, and Kurt Vile. He's also a charmingly shambolic performer—I can't speak to exactly how buzzed he and his bandmates were when I caught them Thursday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, or on what, but they filled the room with a friendly stoner-dude vibe, alternating between casually rocking out in a no-sweat kind of way and delivering goofy stage banter that was heavy on terrible/brilliant puns. He didn't make out anybody in the crowd, at least as far as I saw, but his set was satisfying nonetheless.

Also among the busiest and most-discussed acts at the festival was art-noise-rap outfit Death Grips, who recently leaked No Love Deep Web, an intensely aggressive record that is as fun to listen to as it is potentially embarrassing (at least if your iPhone displays its cover art on a crowded subway). Through a combination of bad scheduling and a desire to avoid being crushed to death in a crowded venue, I managed to miss their seemingly dozens of performances out here. But I did get to see young Harlem-based quartet Ratking a couple times, and if Death Grips are at the forefront of a new movement of artists infusing hip-hop structures with the noise and confrontational energy of punk—and without ending up sounding like the Judgment Night soundtrack in the process*—then Ratking are right on their heels. The beats—reproduced onstage without the assistance of backing tracks or Ableton Live—are brash and chaotic, with synths warped beyond recognition over pummeling drums. But the real attraction is front man Wiki, whose magnetic, Dionysian stage presence is half Reasonable Doubt-era Jay-Z and half Darby Crash. Hot Charity, the XL imprint that previously signed Willis Earl Beal, is putting out their debut EP, Wiki93, on November 6, and the odds of them attracting a legion of cultishly devoted punk-rap fans a la Odd Future are extremely good.

*Though the Judgment Night soundtrack does have its moments.

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