Zach's CMJ Day 3: Second Child, Ezra Furman, The Grasping Straws, and French Horn Rebellion

Wednesday night at The Bitter End in the West Village started with the understated majesty of New York/Philadelphia quartet Second Child (pictured). Playing warm, folk-inflected songs that found notable beauty with the harmonizing of lead singer Alex DeSimine and bassist Alex Tremitiere, the band subtly moved the listener but didn't forget to straight-up thrill; their funked-up cover of David Bowie's "Fame" enlivened the previously focused crowd, several hoots and shouts flying out. While Dirty Projectors are probably more similar to them, it's exciting to see that Second Child can get loose like The Thin White Duke did on some of his earlier tracks. At Le Poisson Rouge, Oakland/Chicago rocker Ezra Furman finished his set with a gloriously riotous rendition of Arcade Fire's "Crown of Love," the gradual nature of that 'Funeral' standout reverting into sax-backed wildness and the green-haired Furman's lightning-quick guitar picks. Back at the End, New York four-piece The Grasping Straws drifted into slow, drum-marched songs that, particularly with frontwoman Mallory Feuer's drawn-out and bluesy vocals, recalled the lo-fi glory of early Cat Power. Taking their time rather than rushing towards easy shock, these tracks intrigued with their very patience and calm and, perhaps most importantly, were ultimately moving, their tumbling quality enabling the audience to both engage and reflect. Down on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn's French Horn Rebellion sent the evening out with feel-good dance tracks full of both jittering electronics and rubbery horns. Brothers Robert Perlick-Molinari and David Perlick-Molinari wore matching Glasslands T-shirts and, with their hip sways and head bobs, they seemed to throw a party not just for that lost venue but for the institution of live music itself. - Zach Weg