Entering Santos Party House, I could already hear Harlem’s guitars, even if I couldn’t see them. Their distorted vocals welcomed in the first night of CMJ.
Santos Party House is a huge new place that’s been collecting plaudits at every turn since its opening last summer. The two stages had already filled up by 9 and bands were in full swing.
On in the basement when I arrived were Dinowalrus, a strangely compelling outfit, who somehow made the clarinet solo seem pivotal to any good set. If anyone in the crowd wasn’t up for the party before they saw these guys then they certainly were afterwards. They worked their ambient sounds into awesome drops that really hit the spot.
Harlem were a little calmer with their retro sound that brings together influences from Buddy Holly, The Kinks and classic pop then adds some more folky rhythms. Very bloody catchy!
A final highlight in the basement were Flexions, it was really getting crowded and sweaty down there at the more intimate stage but their cool synths and sparse vocals really kept everyone interested.
Santos really created a festival atmosphere, not least because there were too many bands to possibly keep up with – especially with a few drinks in hand. But also because everyone involved was there purely for the music, to see these great new bands and to have a good old dance.
— James Loveday