The Bar Is Set High on the First Night of CMJ Music Marathon

October 16th, 2013

NONONO/Panama Wedding/Mystery Skulls – Mercury Lounge – October 15, 2013

Mercury Lounge was bursting at the seams last night, the first night of CMJ Music Marathon 2013, for a highly anticipated sold-out show with three viral, enigmatic acts—NONONO, Panama Wedding and Mystery Skulls—that sent my standard for live music through the roof. Mystery Skulls (aka Luis Dubuc) took the stage solo. His sound is best described as electronic dance music mixed with funk. Purposeful lyrics and smooth vocals accompany bold beats, and the result is infectious. I danced the entire time Dubuc was casually chatting and dropping beats.

Afterward, a gaggle of people flooded the tiny stage for Panama Wedding’s set. They’ve only released one excellent song, “All of the People,” prior to playing a slew of CMJ showcases. Needless to say, everyone was curious to hear how this performance would unfold. The band played a short, tight set that I could listen to again and again. Panama Wedding’s poppy sound is distinctly uplifting. Pointed lyrics anchor the bubbly beats to create a musical fairytale.

NONONO swiftly took the stage and launched into their very first live set in North America with a triumphant opening song we hadn’t heard yet. The Swedish trio’s defiant music fits perfectly in a live setting. Frontwoman Stina Wappling’s vocals swooped and soared atop Astma & Rocwell’s masterful arrangements. The set consisted of the entirety of the band’s EP and some songs to be released on their upcoming full-length album. Wappling giggled and said, “Hey ho, let’s go! This is our first single!” before the trio wrapped up their set with “Pumpin Blood.” I’m positive NONONO will be playing to arena audiences in the not-too-distant future, and I’m glad I caught them up close and personal. Seeing NONONO live: highly recommended. —Schuyler Rooth