CMJ’s annual Music Marathon recently took over parts of New York City (mostly Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Williamsburg, Brooklyn). Even without an official badge, it was easy to find a mix of old favorites and bands that could be the next big thing. Here’s our recap:
Paper Garden Records Showcase
While CMJ didn’t start until Tuesday, we spent Monday night watching the Mountain Goats at Bowery Ballroom. The following day, we headed to the Paper Garden Records showcase at the Living Room. Although we didn’t win any of the Schwinn bikes the label was giving away, we did get to see Washington, D.C.-based Pree and Conveyor, one of the buzz bands of this year’s CMJ.
Terrorbird Media/Impose Showcase
Terrorbird Media and Impose’s showcase at Cake Shop on Wednesday featured some of the best performances we saw all week. Early sets from Wild International, Win Win and Michna started the day off great, but the highlight was producer Flume. The 20-year-old Australian performed songs from his upcoming debut album and even mixed in a bit of Notorious B.I.G. into his set.
After Flume, cross-dressing rapper Mykki Blanco gave a fiery performance, moving spastically around the small stage. And then, Prince Rama played songs from their new album, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World, in which they don the personas of ten fictional bands who perished in the apocalypse.
Tell All Your Friends PR Showcase
Tell All Your Friends PR held their party a few doors down at Pianos. Wooden Indian Burial Ground played a gritty, psychedelic rock set in the upstairs lounge to a fairly small crowd, but we did spot NPR’s Bob Boilen right up front.
Finally, we finished off the night by stopping in to see Rochester-favorites the Demos play a set at the Delancey. Despite the weird setup of the venue, the band laid their power pop on thick enough to leave an impression on NYC.
KEXP @ CMJ
On Friday, we camped out at Union Square Ballroom for KEXP’s annual CMJ event. The Seattle radio station broadcast music and live performances there throughout the week, and on Friday, the tiny room hosted some incredible bands.
Wild Nothing played early in the day, followed by one-man-band Kishi Bashi, who looped his violin and voice to create complex arrangements in the vein of Owen Pallett.
The Antlers headlined the event, playing mostly songs from their new Undersea EP, like “Drift Dive,” and a few from Burst Apart, “No Widows” and “Hounds.”
On Saturday, AAM hosted their CMJ party at Knitting Factory. The Denzels got rid of any CMJ hangover with the first set of the day. The group, who recently released their new EP, Easy Tiger, gave a powerful performance that got even the most tired concertgoers on their feet.
Fleet Foxes side project Poor Moon filled the room with harmonies, and later, Free Energy closed out the show with a bunch of new jams and favorites.
BrooklynVegan Saturday Day Party
In between Poor Moon and Free Energy, we skipped over to Public Assembly to catch a not-typical CMJ set from Miguel. After some initial setup problems, Miguel charmed the packed room, which left many standing outside. The set was short, only four songs, but he more than proved himself.
The Launch Pad
We finished CMJ at Spike Hill, where Baeblemusic held their Launch Pad event. Choir of Young Believers played their final show at CMJ. All the way from Denmark, the band’s dark orchestral pop was definitely a standout of this year’s lineup.