Brandon Wolfeld, Bwog’s newest Arts correspondent, provides an optimistic roundup of his Saturday CMJ experience. (Photos by Armin Rosen.)

What brings six bands from as far away as Kansas to a seemingly abandoned lot in Brooklyn? The answer: the College Music Journal’s CMJ festival, an annual 5-day orgy of everything indie.

The venue, the Yard on Carol St. in Brooklyn, is vaguely reminiscent of a summer camp theater stage. It offers little more than folding chairs, park benches and spectacular views of the scenic Gowanus, and the event felt more like a family reunion than a concert: at least a quarter of the attendees at this showcase were the performers themselves.

I arrived at The Yard midway through a performance by the Lisps, whose melancholy vocals complimented and sometimes contrasted with their folksy, acoustic sound. Next up was Balthrop, Alabama, an excellent blend of Neutral Milk Hotel and the Decemebrists with a hint of Moe and a dash of country. After them came Nebraska-based Eagle*Seagull, a band whose power pop was featured some very danceable beats and equally catchy vocals so reminiscent of Win Butler that you have to wonder if the Texas native had a long lost brother living in Nebraska.

Next up was the Two Man Gentleman Band, composed of three Columbia alumni. They were wearing old fashioned suits accompanied by suspenders and fedoras, and when it was their turn to take the stage they produced something that somehow seemed uniquely Columbian: the Gentlemen rocked out in contemporary Vaudeville style with some kazoos, a banjo, an upright bass, a snare drum, and a tambourine duct taped to the lead singer’s right foot.

More photos after the jump!

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by Old Time Relijun and O’Death. The former favored heavy rock, while O’Death demonstrated just how many tight tunes could feature a banjo and a ukulele. In the end, no band stood out because they were all so good�even an unassuming lot in Brooklyn can give you the unbeatable experience of hearing six great bands for the first time.