The Dears, CMJ’s Most Stoic Band But for the Butt Wiggle

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Daniel McDonald's Alternative Space (Various Figures) (2008). Photo: Jed Egan

A George Michael–esque ass wiggle was the closest thing to banter that the Dears front man Murray Lightburn indulged in at last night's Hiro Ballroom show. That came toward the end of their set, during the intro to "Whites Only Party," one of the only songs the band played that wasn't from their excellent latest album, Missiles. Dressed in a black leather jacket, Lightburn stood in profile for much of the tight, 70-minute set, facing his wife and bandmate, Natalia Yanchak, switching stances when he had to trade out guitars (and keytars!), and seeming completely unfazed by the audience or an undone guitar strap that flapped off his shoulder mid-set.

The audience seemed transient; the majority kept their coats on and were ready to roll out to the next CMJ show as soon as the Dears wrapped up. The seven-piece band (all new members, save for Yanchak) showed nerves, complementing Lightburn's notorious perfectionism and keeping the show on its tight schedule — on by 8:30 and out in time for the next show at 10. Lightburn's stoicism finally switched off as the band finished their encore and he graciously stuck his arm into the audience, shaking hands. It resulted in the most polite stage rush you might ever see.