5 days, 80 venues, 1,300 performances.
By Melissa Presti (Book Publisher)
Today kicks off the 32nd annual music marathon showcasing new music from more than 1,300 artist performances. From October 16 - 20, New York City becomes a playground for music artists and junkies alike.
Filled with panels, performances, meet and greets, seminars, and parties, CMJ has industry professionals rubbing shoulders with bloggers and journalists, managers and musicians, and even you. It's what I consider to be the upscale adult version of an outdoor summer music fest, with a lot less weed and minus the port-o-potties.
The best part is, there is no need to spend a week of your paycheck on a super swank all-access badge. My 9-5 interferes with 75% of the marathon anyway. Most venues will continue to admit regular patrons in addition to the badged fans, for either a relatively cheap (<$20) cover or completely free.
It's worth every penny and every drink for all the new musical discoveries. In 2004, a little unknown band called Arcade Fire played CMJ at Mercury Lounge. And the same venue hosted Mumford and Sons in 2009. The music you hear today could be tomorrow's Grammy winner.
The schedule of events is daunting, but check out this crazy list of attending bands! I have a long list, a short list, and a must-see list that are probably all a bit ambitious (and conflicting) so I've narrowed it down to 5 recommendations:
5. Apollo Run
New to my ears, this Brooklyn-based band's most recent album Here Be Dragons Vol. III runs the gamut of genres track to track, and vocally skips from Jeff Buckley to Freddie Mercury within minutes. Impressed is an understatement. Shows: 10/16 11pm at The Left Field (87 Ludlow St) 10/17 10pm Bowery Electric (327 Bowery St btwn Great Jones St and 3rd St), 10/19 9pm at Spike Hill (186 Bedford Ave at N7th)
4. Youngblood Hawke
Think of a Grouplove/MGMT combo sound and you get YH, joining a whole new subgenre of beach-rock. Show: 10/18 midnight at Bowery Electric (327 Bowery St btwn Great Jones St and 3rd St)
Emerging from the musical realm of The Flaming Lips and Band of Horses, Ponderosa's sophomore album Pool Party is full of neo-psychedelic revelations. Show: 10/19 10:45pm at The Living Room (154 Ludlow St btwn Rivington and Stanton St)
2. Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie)
He's touring for his debut solo album Former Lives, which is streaming now and officially releasing on November 12. He's convinced fans don't know him by name, but I'm betting his show will be packed - IF everyone realizes the scheduled venue "Brownies" has been going by the name of Hi-Fi for the last several years. Show: 10/16 9pm 169 Ave A (between 10th and 11th St.)
Did I hear them for the first time on Vampire Diaries? Sure did. A little bit of influence from Coldplay and The Fray, a lotta bit of influence from the sounds of Death Cab and Augustana. This Seattle-based band is 7 years strong and 3 albums deep and on my MUST-see list. Show: 10/20 5pm at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 (196 Allen Street btwn Houston and Stanton St)