Jam Session: Communion At Milk

Bad Suns, photo by Andrew Boyle
Bad Suns, photo by Andrew Boyle
Bad Suns, photo by Marissa Evans
Bad Suns, photo by Andrew Boyle
Tor Miller, photo by Andrew Boyle
Tor Miller, photo by Andrew Boyle
Magic Man, photo by Andrew Boyle
Magic Man, photo by Marissa Evans
Magic Man, photo by Andrew Boyle
Photo by Andrew Boyle

The JamRoom is tucked away deep in the depths of Milk’s labyrinth, and it’s a music fan’s wet dream: barely seven feet tall, it’s a chaotic cramming of neon signage, pinup cutouts, angry band portraits, string lighting, retro rugs and a giant graffiti lion. It’s all too reminiscent of our drunken college days (the staffers peddling cases of PBR to the crowd didn’t help), but just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we can’t occasionally rage. In case you forgot, we’ve thrown down here before.

To close out this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, the annual funneling of buzzing new bands from all over the world to New York City, we had the perfect instruments for a good time. We filled the JamRoom with several hundred of our closest friends for a session with Communion Music, the label founded by Mumford & Sons member Ben Lovett (who also helped direct the crowd). Communion brought some friends too, in the form of California-grown punk band Bad Suns, hip quintet Magic Men from Boston, Mass., and New York native Tor Miller, all of whom celebrated tearing up the city’s various CMJ stages by treating the audience to vibrant sets, including some unreleased—and incredible—music.

“People tell me that I have a New York kind of sound,” explained Tor Miller. As he powered through Hold the Phone, a frustrated ode to a lost yet undying love, the power in his voice evoked far more feeling than a geographic location. And while Magic Man’s punk-rock fusion sounds relatively East Coast, the Bad Suns’ showcase was a unique twist of Cali-meets-somewhere-in-Europe, a funky and ferocious performance that kept the crowd rocking.

“It felt like the opening scene in Almost Famous,” Bad Suns’ Gavin Bennett said shortly after their set. “It was like the coolest friend you never had just invited you to his house party.” For the Woodland Hills, Calif., natives, their first CMJ was a whirlwind of rocking performances, and their Milk set (“Our favorite of the week,” said Christo Bowman) is their last Atlantic hurrah for the time being. “It’s just a different beast,” Bennett said of the Big Apple. “This place is unbelievable. You don’t come in contact with people in L.A. the way you do in New York. I’ve met so many random people that are gonna stay with me for quite a bit.”

“To see someone from Europe, or Maryland, or Kentucky, just on stage and killing it… it puts it in perspective,” Bowman said, in awe of the monumental music scene that is CMJ. As for Bad Suns’ own ability to win over the crowd? “We’re just trying to be a band that we would want to listen to, and if someone likes it, that feels amazing. It’s about filling a certain void in music that you can’t hear. It’s about, ‘I like this, and I like that, but I want them to come together.'”

Special thanks to The Smile for the grub, Jameson for the drink and Bose for powering the show.

Photography by Andrew Boyle and Marissa Evans

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