CMJ 2012: Day 2 – JJAMZ @ Bowery Electric

I remember a time when I would be headed out to a show around 9 or 10 and someone in my family would say with exasperation, “I can’t believe you’re going out this late!” and I would kinda scoff and roll my eyes and think, “OMG, IT’S NOT EVEN LATE!” as I rushed out the door to meet my friends.

Today, as I was putting on my Chucks in my apartment at 8:50pm in preparation to head over to Bowery Electric to catch a 9:20 set by JJAMZ for CMJ, I found myself thinking, “OH MY GOD it’s so late! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING OUTSIDE.” As I made my way over to the venue this was the running loop of commentary:

“Why are there so many people outside?”

“How can that girl walk in those shoes?”

“Aren’t those girls cold? They’re not even wearing jackets!”

“Are those people eating ice cream? Should they be eating so close to their bedtime?”

“That girl looks like she’s on her way to a nightclub!”

The reason I found myself asking those questions has one very simple answer: I am old and never go out, so the idea that other people are out when I’m normally in bed watching last night’s “Daily Show” on Hulu is kinda a foreign concept to me. (BTW – The answers to those questions are: “Because it’s not even 9 o’clock.” “She can’t.” “They are drunk.” “Their bedtime is nowhere near.” “I believe it’s called a ‘bar’.”)

Anyhoo, as I approached Bowery Electric, I noticed a mass of people outside: people in bands, people who looked like groupies of bands, people who looked like they might be from LA — yup, I was in the right place.

I headed down the stairs and up to the front of the stage just as JJAMZ was starting. Perfect tardy timing!

What can I say about JJAMZ that I haven’t already said? As predicted, the band was a pop-tastic experiment in peppy, toe-tapping tunes. That’s the great thing about supergroups — you’re pretty much guaranteed a solid time — these people have proven themselves in other musical outfits, and you kinda know what you are getting.

I’ve known about The Like for quite some time, but have never actually seen them perform, so much of my observation was focused on Elizabeth “Z” Berg, lead vocalist of The Like and more relevantly, of JJAMZ. It wouldn’t take a genius to make comparisons between the physical likeness that Z Berg has with rock icon Debbie Harry, but I’m going have to go on record right now as noticing because it is a bit uncanny.

The chin-length blonde hair, the defined cheekbones, the perfectly pursed lipsticked lips, the lone lady in a band of dudes — all the pieces are all there. Wearing a pair of fire engine red hot pants, a snug fitting short-sleeved sweater with a bicycle printed on it, and a pair of deadly stiletto boots, Z Berg seemed to unabashedly be playing the part of indie rock pin-up girl, which for some reason (justified or not) seemed to me to be appropriate “LA” of her.

With a girlish voice, that got rough around the edges during the end of phrases, even vocally Berg seemed to be channeling her patron saint of music. (My assumption that Debbie Harry is someone she looks up to is not without proof — earlier this year she told Harper’s Bazaar that her personal style is “somewhere between Twiggy, Debbie Harry and Cher Horowitz.”) I’m not sure if her onstage pouts, frequent hair tousling, satisfied just-woke-up-from-bed stretches were designed to give me a clear indication of what Berg must be like in bed, but that’s what they achieved.

At one point a dubious beer-bellied character wearing no shirt, got on stage between songs and soy bombed the JJAMZ set with a plug for a booze for charity event he (or someone) was running at the upstairs bar, after which Michael Runion quipped, “Hey Z Berg, someone who is wearing less clothes than you on stage!”

There set was over after 7 or so songs — their time was up, and they were headed to Santos for another gig. I was headed towards the door as soon as the last chord was strummed by Alex Greenwald.