I’m on the other side of the world. Allow me a moment of national identity.

Rhys Darby. Making robot noises, as it happens.

The real highlight of the New York trip? Well, it wasn’t the panel session I was part of, though the people I spoke with were interesting and the discussion fascinating. And it wasn’t the trade fair, even with those amazing new online services for bands and armloads of freebies. Nor was it even the city itself, with its overwhelming scale and amazing diversity.

It was four bands in a pub.

The bands were from New Zealand, and it was the showcase gig for the CMJ Music Marathon. Introduced by Rhys Darby (aka Murray from ‘Flight of the Conchords‘ – in character and on form), Cut Off Your Hands, The Brunettes, The Checks and Liam Finn treated to the crowd to four or five songs apiece, as the audience of industry bigwigs and interested punters were treated to a heaping helping of kiwiana washed down with a Steinlager or two.

The after function was great too — and Rhys did a bit of standup that went over very well — but the positivity around the New Zealand music scene that resulted from that event can’t be overestimated. And man they put on a good show.

Prize for crowd-pleasing stage presence was hotly contested between Liam, who played EVERYTHING simultaneously: drums, bass, several guitar parts, theremin and vocals with a bit of help from a looping pedal — and Cut Off Your Hands, whose on-stage, off-stage, under-stage, above the stage and everywhere-else-at-once antics really impressed.

But they were all great. In fact, I went and saw The Checks again, and Liam performed a couple more times. If you get the chance to see him live, don’t miss it. Amazing.

Here are some clips to give you a taster:

Liam Finn – Second Chance

The Checks – What You Heard

The Brunettes – Her Hairagami Set

Cut Off Your Hands – Still Fond