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Paying off: Modern Science doesn’t squander pricey trip to CMJ

These mad scientists are mad cool.
Fred Mortledge execs didn’t realize the extent of their commitment when they footed the bill for Las Vegas-based Modern Science to travel to New York City’s rain-soaked 2009 CMJ Music Marathon. The pop-funk newcomers’ self-titled debut may have been vocalist Kane Churko and bassist Mike McHugh’s labor of love, but headlining Friday’s showcase required a live band. Thus travel and accommodations for the duo plus Churko’s father, drummer and producer Kevin Churko, guitarist Charles Henry and keytarist Mike Spadoni at the Lower East Side’s Hotel on Rivington ran more than $5,000.

Modern Science ensured the experience was worth its sponsor’s hefty payout, however. “I’m losing my voice,” McHugh apologized from the stage midway through a seven-song set culled from their own MIMORTAL (Music Is My Only Reason to Live) Records release, later explaining that he and Churko caught numerous other bands each of their four nights in town, all while networking, visiting MTV’s downtown offices and being interviewed by Fuse TV’s Allison Hagendorf, who confessed to following the core pair from her A&R days at Columbia, calling them “a combination of great talent and determination.”

The hectic schedule didn’t stop the quintet from delivering a high-energy, professional half-hour well-received by industry insiders at the Ace of Clubs. From opener “I’m the One” to closer “Look Where You’re Walkin’,” MS visually impressed with wide stances and black leather, and, following Churko’s lead, kept the packed crowd dancing throughout. “We came all the way here from Vegas to see you guys,” the offstage introvert enthused following “Whatever You Say” and before strapping on a guitar for “Desperately.” “We’re the only band playing CMJ from Nevada, and we’re proud to represent.”

Though a low basement ceiling thwarted progression of the beach ball Spadoni tossed down during “U Funk Me Up,” it was the only aspect of the evening that didn’t soar. Or as Stereofame Executive VP Davis Johnson put it, “They’re a very dynamic, big-sound group. They’re exactly what we needed to carry the evening and finish it on a high note. They were fantastic.”


Julie Seabaugh

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