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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.


After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.


After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).






The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012





Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.

Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff



At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!


7.00 - The Casualty Process

7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic

10.20 - Psychobuildings

11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves

11.40 - Caged Animals

12.20 - Slam Donahue


Square pegs will fill round holes as Bridget and the Squares reunites at the Windjammer this weekend (interview included)

In you wanna get right to the interview with Bridget and the Squares’s Laura Regan then just skip down to past the jump below…


Back in 1982-83 the CBS Television Network ran a show called Square Pegs featuring Sarah Jessica Parker (in her first major role) and Amy Linker both playing “nerdy” teens (with the help of fake braces and glasses and fat padding natch) attempting to shore up their popularity and “click with the right clique” by adopting Valley Girl accents and holding slumber parties and joining girls’ sports teams but if they’d just open up their damed eyes they’d realize that having fun together as square pegs was way better and more rewarding than awkwardly trying to fit into round holes and also that soon they’ll be the cool ones once they get to college and even more so in their young adult years sexing in the city…

…with the two leads being relatively fleshed out and humanized by sitcom standards meaning the show was actually pioneering for its time and debatably even by today’s standards seeing as your typical “nerd” character on a TV sitcoms almost always serves as the resident punching bag, nothing more than cannon fodder for cheap jokes by the “cool” characters—even more “enlightened” shows like Big Bang Theory tend to rely on some of the laziest nerd stereotypical traits imaginable—thus setting Square Peg’s Lauren and Patty apart from the Urkels and Screeches of the world nevermind the predatory nerdy creep characters found on nearly every Disney Channel show...

…with another relevant point being that Square Pegs was easily the coolest show around in 1983—adored by critics and with enough cache to attract some of the best guest stars around ranging from Bill Murray to Devo to Father Guido Sarducci whereas the best Saved By The Bell could muster was Casey Kasem and a pre-fame Tori Spelling—with the show cancelled mostly cuz once the CEO of CBS found out that the remote abandoned high school set of Square Pegs had been turned into a den of cocaine and copulation by many of its teen stars during the first season's filming and axed the prospect of the show continuing sensing a scandal on his hands…

…which just goes to show what a fine line it is between “square pegs” and “round holes” when in reality we’re all just a bunch of slug-like amorphous blogs trying to fit into any hole we can and it’s this same realization that lies at the heart of the art of Bridget and the Squares who graced the stages of the Boston metro area almost 10 years ago with songs powerfully evoking the plight of a square peg longing for but eventually being disappointed by various round holes and if you don’t believe me just listen to their song “Shelf Life” from their 2012 EP Destroy (right above the Devo video above) wherein singer/keyboardist/songwriter Laura "Bridge"t Regan relates letting go of toxic people and being vulnerable enough to accept the overtures of another square peg (her future husband, to be more specific) and here I’m paraphrasing…

…and this from someone (Laura) who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music but who developed a serious case of stage fright once she started playing out in a band—having before been accustomed to playing roles other than herself on stage in musical theater which was her first love—and who thus had to face away from the crowd and look instead at her drummer/co-vocalist bandmate Kyle Thompson and now that the Bridget and the Squares are reuniting at the Windjammer in Ridgewood, Queens this Saturday night it’ll be interesting to see where Laura puts her eyes now that she’s made square hole-dome into a living as the driving force behind the Footlight Presents, a well-known name in NYC music circles...

plus being active in various local civic organizations and the National Independent Venue Association so come on out to the Windjammer this Saturday night if you like what you hear and hear it live with the added resonance of the years passed since Laura and Kyle took the stage together and as an added bonus they’ll be joined by their friend and cellist Ana Karina Dacosta who’s been profiled in this space before plus some other Boston homies besides so don’t quit reading cuz we got a great interview with Laura Regan below that help you learn a lot more about Bridget and the Squares besides what you may know from facile comparisons to an old TV show… (Jason Lee)


How do you feel about the gig coming up?

Nervous. It’s weird not playing so long, since I’m busy these days with the back end, running the club. I’ve done a couple solo gigs, which have been a kind of warm up, to see how it feels to be In front of people again. It’ll be easier with Kyle for sure. We were a two-piece for a long time. He’s a security blanket to me as a musician, and one of only people I’ve been able to write with. He’s like a brother.

I don’t like playing by myself, I get so unbelievably nervous. I’m used to having someone to bounce off from on stage. I used tangle the keyboard and drums so I could look just look at him and hating looking directly at the audience.

What are the origins of Bridget and the Squares?

When the band first formed I was in Boston around 2007. Wehad an entirely different sound. And I didn’t now how to be a bandleader yet, still trying to figure out how to explain what was going on in my head to band members. That version of BatS was really indie and twee. But when I moved to New York and met Kyle, we started playing together and figuring out what the songs were supposed to sound like.

We played with a couple bass players between 2010 and ’11 but we loved being a two-piece, loved the intensity of it. I think Kyle enjoyed the surprise of how intense our band could be with just piano and drums and have people be blown away by how powerful we could be.

So I rearranged some songs and brought new life to them. At first I wanted to salvage some of my old songs but they weren’t fitting our new dynamic, plus I didn’t really connect with those songs anymore. Then in 2011, after touring, we started working towards an album which is Kill/Destroy. I’m really really proud of that album and it was fun to make. We worked with other friends and it turned out to be exactly what we wanted it to be.

Can you provide us with more deep background on the band, and how it helped lead you to where you are today?

I met Kyle at open mic at Bowery Poetry Club. The Bowery inspired me to open my own venue [the Footlight Underground has more lately morphed into Footlight Presents] and to realize how vital a place like Bowery Poetry Club was to the arts ecosystem in NYC.

“Bridget” is my middle name, named after my great-grandmother. I took on the name inspired by stage fright. I’d been performing basically my entire life, doing musical theater as young as 7, playing instruments and singing since 11. I went to the Boston Arts Academy and got a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.

But something happened between graduating and developing intense stage fright. For one thing it was such a hard time starting my first band. And since it hadn’t been named yet, I developed a persona to be the “frontperson” Bridget, to where I could “put on an act” and pretend to be someone else when we were performing. That how I started to get over the stage fright.

The first “squares” in Bridget and the Squares were actual, self-described “nerds” as in computer scientists and engineers. The music was really just a hobby for them eve though they were fantastic musicians. But I wanted to tour and record albums which is how I ended moving to New York and being a full time musician. Plus the hard “T” at the end of Bridget flows better than “Laura” would. People who didn’t know me outside the band thought I was “Bridget.”

How does all that play into the lyrics which come across as personal if not full-on confessional?

The songs themselves were always deeply personal. Vulnerability is not something that comes easy to me, so “Bridget” was handy in this way too—developing another “person” who’s more comfortable with being vulnerable was a way to deal with it. In a way, the catharsis of releasing that part of me has saved my life, being able to express what I’ve had to gone through and what some others I’m close to have gone through.

As the years years have progressed there’s less distance between me and the “Bridget” character, but at the start it was almost like two completely different people.

What else is there to the Bridget and the Squares story?

Kyle and I played out a lot 2010-11. We did a cross-country tour which burnt us out a little bit, going 9000 miles in a few weeks. It was insane. Then we kind of took a break, played some local gigs and went on hiatus, and I started Footlight.

Kyle was in a band called Incredibly Elderly. I was in Hot Mess, which was a fun project w two good friends that only stopped when the drummer moved to Berlin. We never recorded, and made one terrible music video. It was filmed in the original Footlight at 465 Seneca, before the pandemic forced us to move and start booking shows at the Windjammer, a wonderful venue in its own right. Running the venue took everything out of me and it didn’t leave much time for playing music. We played one reunion in 2017 on my husband’s birthday. It’s going to be fun playing these songs again for first time in years.

Kyle lives in Canada now. He’s coming into town to play the show with me. Our friends Slowdim from Boston, who are also on the bill, haven’t played that consistently in the last 5-6 years either. Paul Sentz of "This Car Up" is also on the bill, they’re another legendary Boston band, and Ana Karina too who may play cello on a song or two. She came to New York City and played on the Kill/Destroy album when we recorded it.

I think I’ll remember everything. It’s been nice practicing on the piano at the Windjammer. The old songs are pretty imprinted on my brain. Or on Bridget’s brain.




Alt Rock

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