Welcome to day number one of CMJ. There’s obviously a lot of music going on this week, and if you do a bit of planning ahead, it will be quite good. While I feel that the quality of this year’s bands is a little bit thinner than in year’s past (more due to lack of breadth than depth, maybe because CMJ’s controversial #Offline Fest has corralled a very good sampling of who’s in town into something separate, and maybe because I’m used to SXSW’s complete dominance of the entire scope of music trends), if you spend a little big of time planning and organizing, you can see a lot of good bands for very little money, and get quite a few free drinks out of the deal. I’m here to help.
A few notes on the nature of this year’s fest. In the past, there’s been a definitive locus around Pianos and Cake Shop during the day. With Pianos’ upstairs/downstairs abilities and Cake Shop’s impeccable taste, they’ve had a hegemony over day shows. More than that, CMJ had proven its not-with-it-ness to me by having most of its shows centered around Manhattan venues that the kinds of bands playing don’t normally do shows during the rest of the year. For instance, I’ve never been to The Delancey except for a CMJ show. This year, however, the focus seems to have shifted from Manhattan to Brooklyn, finally catching up with real life trends. A lot of out-of-town bloggers are having a showcase this year, many of them in Brooklyn, where in the past they might have just stuck to SXSW. I Guess I’m Floating and Gorilla Vs. Bear are just two easy examples. Does this point to the fact that CMJ is getting cooler, or that blogs written by young people have more clout than ever before? I’m guessing the latter.
As Tuesday is the first day of CMJ, it’s still warming up. There’s a few good bands playing at Pianos (The Music Slut’s day party) and Cake Shop throughout the day, but I’d honestly just stay at work or if you’re a freelancer/unemployed/student, just get things done this Tuesday day. Save your energy for tomorrow. Instead, head out to two different blog showcases on Tuesday evening. I’d start off at Bruar Falls for Friendship Bracelet’s showcase. It’s Friendship Bracelet, so there will inevitably a good crowd, plus there’s some great bands. I’d stick around for the first three acts, Woodsman, Tonstartssbandht, and Greatest Hits. At that point, I’d head on over to Glasslands for the Micro-Pixel-Rights showcase. MME is one of my all-time favorite blogs, and this will afford you a chance to check out some new bands I bet you haven’t seen before: Spectre Folk and Steve Gunn. Plus, NYRM fave Dent May is closing the show, and I think we could all use a little reminder that you can’t force a dance party.
While that would be my plan for the night, another notable show will be taking place at Brooklyn Bowl and is entirely FREE. Yo La Tengo headlines the night, which is great in and of itself, but you also get DOM and Screaming Females along with that. And at Irving Plaza you can watch La Sera, Times New Viking, Happy Birthday, and Wild Nothing before leaving when Jenny & Johnny come on. Those are four of my favorite bands of the year. I’d pick the Brooklyn blog party route, but all four of these shows are excellent choices for your CMJ kick-off.