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Where to begin with the sweat, the impossibly loud techno, pushy hipsters and the free SoCo?

Hard to complain as it was a (free) shelter from the rain, and even harder to begrudge the free booze after a week of late nights and ringing ears at rock clubs across New York City. Hundreds of game partygoers looking for one last thrill before sticking the nail in CMJ 2009 piled into the annual Levi’s/FADER Fort party Saturday at the Ace Hotel’s Liberty Hall loft space to get their clamor on with hotly tipped acts such as the Temper Trap, Florence and the Machine, Chauffer with Mark Ronson, Midnight Juggernauts and Kyp Malone’s Rain Machine.

First up to the party was Restless People (although the singer’s accent had us first convinced the band’s name was “Office Depot”), with their 311-meets-calypso-meets-dance-punk good-ship lollipop journey into the cosmos. The group’s boundless energy and dedication to making booty spin round was a peppy and proper groove to vibe on as the sweat lodge kicked into high gear.

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When California girl turned Bushwick transplant Amanda Warner aka MNDR made her entrance into the FADER joint, all eyes were immediately on the blue-eyed, gorgeous blonde in crazy shades and backless t-shirt. Looking every bit the electro star she is about to become, her randy and rowdy stage presence only sealed our belief in this girl’s prospects. Sounding like a perfect marriage of Lady Gaga, Samantha Fox and La Roux, MNDR killed with her minxy moxie, powerful pipes and ability to work the crowd like a true pro, putting our minds over matter and our hands in the air. Despite the sweat coating our stomachs, her sick beats were worth our odiferous flair.

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With the FADER Fort Sauna at full mast and cruel blast as Temper Trap set up their gear and tangled with sound guys, Liberty Hall became the sardine can we had feared and anticipated. Not surprising given the Trap’s live reputation, but after a week of this sort of thing, the grand push of burly men double-fisting Budweisers and model types working their best Mean Girls impersonations to get to the front never ceases to be less than ideal for fun. Thankfully, singer Dougy Mandagi is ace at winning folks over quicker than they can slam a Jägerbomb, and all was well. The drenched crowd sang their hearts out to “Sweet Disposition,” fell in love with a deserving band and screamed back in appreciation at the uber-tired, hard-working Aussies who, like the rest of us, have been wide awake in America for far too long now. –Words and photos by Carrie Alison

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Though there were kids left out in the rain in front of the hotel, dying to catch an earful of the Brit indie-soul pixie’s paired-down set, we were lucky to swing into the basement space through the band entrance, having found a friend with Mark Ronson connections. Surprisingly, once inside, it felt as if there was enough elbow room for at least a hundred more fans, so it’s too bad the bouncers were doing too good of a job in keeping the venue at comfortable capacity as the night neared to a close.

Florence Welch, aka London’s Florence and the Machine, has enough vocal acrobatics and moxie to launch a thousand ships, and even when she’s joined by only one guitarist, her set is as epic as they get.

UKers came out of the woodwork to pay homage to their own flame-haired Mama Cass, hugging all sides of the stage to sing along as Florence cast her spell dressed in gold and black, delivering her genre-crossing songs packed with everything from breathy whispers to soaring crescendos.  Her gothier pop tunes are reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux or Kate Bush (never a bad thing), but radio hits like the cover “You’ve Got the Love” are pure danceable soul.  Though it seems dear “Flossie” is one gal they froth at the bit to gossip about in the British press, there’s no denying the power of a belting voice and charged stage presence.  We were instantly charmed with her gusto and skill, and admittedly, a bit lusty for her “these boots weren’t made for walking” sky-high platforms and trapeze artist dress.–Madeline Virbasius-Walsh

 
  1. [...] dervish known as MNDR (or, to her friends and family, Amanda Warner) during CMJ 2009 at the FADER Fort where she brought some serious sweat and moxie, throwing shades in the vein of “Lady Gaga, [...]