Friday night on Ludlow Street and it’s the Upstairs/Downstairs Watusi for this spring chicken reporter with scuffy boots, a bad haircut and dirty jeans. The good folks at Force Field PR are owning the downstairs performance space with a nasty-hot line-up of La Sera, Violens, Wild Nothing, and the So So Glos, while the upstairs darkspace is a free-for-all mishmash on the night.

First up for the upstairs crowd was hometown crew The Whisperians who played a thick-necked, punk-poppy set of working class bar jams reminiscent of The Hold Steady and a jugular shot of testosterone. Lead singer Chris Brunelle joked at the beginning of the set that the trio was “not from Brooklyn, New York,” as a nod to the city’s current indie music mecca. Brunelle also took the same tongue-in-cheek humor to the group’s merch saying, “Nothing says you’re cool like wearing [that] shit because no one knows it.” Take that, absentee hipsters!

Meanwhile, downstairs at the Force Field showcase, red-headed, tattooed Los Angeles beauty Katy Goodman and her fellow members of La Sera were kicking it Laurel Canyon low-key with ethereal charms and swoony melodies. A lovely mixture of Rilo Kiley and She & Him, and that’s not a bad thing. Also an unintended plus, the whole room smelled of incense during their sweet and lush set.

Back upstairs for Metromix-recommended quartet The Howlies who played a rollicking and spirited session of punkish, dirty-garage rowdy rock that proved to be the only set of CMJ 2010 that beckoned me to stay to the very end. Making like a Southern-bred Velvet Underground or a far less serious Strokes, all four members share vocal duties and made the packed room lose their minds. As if made of a lifetime supply of cocaine or Red Bull, these dudes smoked it and did the damn thing. Atlanta must surely be proud of these groovy, swagger-owning badasses. I think I’m in love.

To close out the night, I headed downstairs for NYC’s Violens and Austin, TX’s Woven Bones, two acts who have seen plenty of starlight lately. The former group, who has been grabbing CMJ headlines since 2008, played it coy, draping themselves in dramatic blue tones, holding court with their tidal post-punk know-how and downcast (albeit sway-inducing) leanings. The quartet  released a new record, Amoral, on October 12th.

Woven Bones, who had to rush to Pianos to make the gig (the singer informed the audience of this before telling us to “chill out,”) got the lead out with chunky, Jesus and Mary Chain (well, more early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) sensibilities, replete with frontman Andrew Burr’s Lou Reed-esque sneer. Burr, whose mom was in attendance in the back of the room, has an enviable “I Wanna Be Your Dog” way with attitude, while Carolyn Cunningham kept time with taut drumming and warm self-possession.

–Carrie Alison, Photos by Carrie Alison

 
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