Artist: Dent May Video: 'Howard' Highlight: The Mississippi musician…
- Posted on Oct 18th 2012 2:15PM by Caitlin White
Laura Lynn Petrick/Cole Furlow
DeMarco continued his set with the enthusiasm of a circus performer, but don't let his devil-may-care attitude fool you. The kid is a seriously talented musician with a knack for songwriting that recalls Neil Young's weird late-'70s/early-'80s releases. Mac sipped a long neck while his band took turns soloing, and then burst into his own finger-melting guitar solo complete with rocker-ecstasy face. Then Mac drank some more beer and laughed at the outrageous, albeit splendidly played solo his drummer busted into. All the solos seemed entirely spontaneous and DeMarco later confirms that's true.
"That one is my favorite song to play, 'She's Really All I Need' because of how we do the solos. Playing our other songs it's mostly always the same, but with that one we just jerk around in the second half and do whatever we want. So it always refreshes your night," DeMarco said with a laugh.
Mac's stage antics are endearing though, not distracting or annoying. They never feel affected or even cheesy, just a physical continuation of the sonic Mac we already know and love. He jokingly introduces their last song as a Nickelback cover and leaves the stage during the song to share a dance with his longterm girlfriend Kiki. The kid is a riot, with more energy than a puppy but this enthusiasm translates into jams with serious chops. DeMarco, at 21, is another young Canadian prodigy to keep an eye on.
Dent May ambled in for their sound check with their adorable Southern charm and gear in tow. In a nightmare scenario, one of their amps blew during sound check, but DeMarco's band lent them a Fender to get the show back on track. When they finally begin, it was all golden jewel-encrusted pop songs. Dent kicked off with "Fun," one of the songs of his carefree new record Do Things that came out earlier this year.
I saw Dent May back in May at 285 Kent and thought they were great then, but they seemed a bit more together at this performance, sounding tighter and looking like they were having more fun. Maybe the acoustics were just better in Public Assembly's smaller room or maybe it's because that was the beginning of their tour and they're more seasoned now. Playing an almost endless string of shows during CMJ leads to some bands sounding sloppy, but these guys sound fresh. Dent admitted the hardest thing about playing CMJ is the packed schedule, which can make every show feel affected.
"Sometimes it feels like bands are just cattle, being ushered in and out, and that you're not really connecting with fans of any kind, and you're just here to be a part of this machine. The hardest part is feeling like you're in a sea of like, anonymous bands like descending upon New York City for the week," May said. "But a show like tonight I really felt it was just as good as any other show I've ever played."
Mid-set they played their cover of the Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street," a disco-fuzz version reveals just a hint of the many musical influences Dent draws from to create his blissed-out garage-pop tracks.
"I think I'm influenced by everything I hear, for better or for worse. I genuinely want to soak up everything I hear and use it in what I'm doing. I embrace all music and I want to use it," he said.
His musical sound has been compared to the Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, the Cars, Prince, Serge Gainsbourg and many more. But his quirky, often ironic lyrics, are situated firmly in our own time, and his wit is apparent through his banter with the crowd as well. At one point he asked if anyone knows how much time they have left to play in the set. "Two and a half minutes!" yells a dude who thinks he's funny. "No, I said much time do we have left not how long can you last in bed!" Dent quipped back. They closed out the set with "Best Friend" a track that sums up the simplicity of childhood friendship and innocent trust with synth flairs and harmonies.
For both of these bands, there's a refreshing sense of reality and personality in their performances. Perhaps this ability to be themselves, share equipment and trade sexual innuendos with the crowd is a characteristic that is only possible in the DIY fringes of CMJ shows. Or perhaps these musicians aren't as concerned with the lacquered perfection of mainstream music and prefer to, in the words of Dent May, do things their own way.
Both have several more performances throughout the week. Catch both bands tonight at the Captured Tracks showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Dent May plays another set later at 11PM just down the street at Cameo Gallery. If you have a day job and must wait till Friday to go out, then look for Dent May at the Panache showcase, which will be held at Public Assembly.