This past Friday, The Fader hosted their second of three consecutive CMJ showcases at the Fader Fort, which boasted one of the most burgeoning and diverse lineups of the week. Thirteen-year-old Willow Smith was scheduled to debut her new project, still riding on the heels of “Whip My Hair” (which she closed her set with). Aussie alt-rockers Spookyland played the showcase’s first set of Friday night, which was raucous and uplifting. They rollicked through tracks from their two week-old Rock and Roll Weakling EP and had the crowd going in (Shouts to Spookyland and their manager for sneaking me back into the venue after getting kicked out for smoking weed between the second and third sets).
The Leeds-based introspective art rock foursome Adult Jazz followed. I was most excited for this act, who’d just barely acquired a visa to travel to the U.S. and had missed their shows scheduled for the first day. Their set-up was elaborate, with members of the band alternating positions and trading off on various instruments, but it wasn’t until the third song that Adult Jazz really fell into a comfortable rhythm (which was a shame, because each act was only allotted thirty minutes to perform). They closed with the ghoulish, polyrhythmic processional of “Idiot Mantra.”
George Maple gave an incredible, show-stopping performance, but (unfortunately) I heard the majority of her set from outside the venue. She closed with her most recent contribution, “Talk Talk,” every bit as nuanced and extraordinary as her recordings. Inexplicably, she was dressed like Cleopatra.
TOPS were evocative and tinny-sounding, with some especially clamorous guitar maneuverings. Rapper Sir Michael Rocks was arresting and confident on stage by himself, boasting an impressive flow. But after an unnumbered abundance of cocktails (the event had an open bar) it was mainly Willow Smith who maintained my interest after Adult Jazz. Her voice was angelic, crystalline and pure, and her spoken-word flow was striking in its apparent proficiency. Brother Jaden Smith joined for “” and R&B singer-MC SZA also joined for a track, but Willow‘s crowning moment was undoubtedly during the salient-smooth freestylings of “Female Energy.” By the end of her performance I was spent, and had no interest in staying for the night’s special guest (Cam’ron, pffttt), because nothing could one-up the euphoria of that set.