Does anybody out there still really know what CMJ stands for? The College Music Journal is a website and print publication that aggregates the most played material on college radio, but unless you do college radio, you probably only know it as the name of the music marathon, which goes down every October in New York City. A marathon it is – unlike SXSW’s comparatively handleable four days of show-going craziness, CMJ’s got five, so brace yourself, gird your loins, etc. Though it’s October and cold our advice is the same – drink so much water, don’t overcommit yourself, and DO NOT, we repeat, DO NOT!!! go to Fette Sau for every meal. Though, really, go to Fette Sau at least once. Also, go to these shows:
Kick off your CMJ in high style – running back and forth to two venues down the street from each other. Tonight, Oh My Rockness are throwing an amazing party at Cameo Gallery with Hunters, the boy-girl pop-punk duo whose debut record is now out on Mom + Pop, alongside buzzy Connecticut punks Ovlov and our favorite Brooklyn post-punk act, Big Ups. And/or, check out True Panther and Terrible Records’ joint party at Music Hall of Williamsburg, featuring sets from Glasser and Empress Of. If you’re lucky, you might catch two sets from Kirin J. Callinan, who is somehow playing both parties – hey, if he can do it, you can.
During SXSW, we try to steer away from recommending you catch two different shows in two different venues at the same time, but in New York for CMJ, that’s a little easier to pull off given most show-hosting venues are pretty concentrated in two areas – lower Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Case in point – you can definitely catch parties at neighboring venues Pianos and Cake Shop down on the East Village’s Ludlow Street. Which is good, because on Wednesday afternoon Kanine Records and SESAC are hosting a great party at Pianos, with Eternal Summers, Bleeding Rainbow, and the Atlanta psych troupe Mood Rings, and the publicity agency Terrorbird’s hosting a killer party at Cake Shop, with Weekend, TEEN (who are hands down the best band with the word “teen” in their name), and Coke Weed.
You should probably make a decision at night, though, but let’s stay in lower Manhattan – hit up NPR’s amazingly diverse party at (le) Poisson Rouge, which boasts sets from Omar Souleyman, Cults, and Pusha T (for real!). Or, mosey on down to Mercury Lounge, because Aquarium Drunkard somehow procured the only CMJ set from Austinites White Denim, as well as performances from Calvin Love and a solo set from Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado.
Take it easy during the day on Thursday – we recommend chilling at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn for Riot Act Media’s party with PMA fave Torres and Norwegian Arms – so you can psych yourself up for a big evening. Panache Booking are in the habit of throwing the best parties at either SXSW or CMJ, so their showcase at 285 Kent should be awesome – you’ll get another chance to see Hunters, Calvin Love, and Big Ups if you haven’t already, as well as Speedy Ortiz, whose Major Arcana is still one of our favorite records of the year. Alternatively (or, also) hit up Death by Audio, because the Seattle label Hardly Art throw great parties too – theirs features sets from the Queens trio Beets as well as the Portland postpunk band Hausu. You could also go to the McKittrick Hotel to see Here We Go Magic and Holychild, especially if your tastes lean more toward the pop arena. And, if you’ve a hankering for some arty electronica, there’s nowhere better to go than Cameo Gallery, where Cascine and Driftless are hosting a party with Mike Simonetti, Jensen Sportag, Heavenly Beat, and a DJ set from Korallreven.
You’ll probably want to sleep in after that, which is fine, because Friday’s best parties are at night, too. If you want to see if you can catch one of those sets from Arcade Fire aka the Reflektors – we’re hearing rumors they might be at the art space 299 Meserole – you should probably line up super early (fans at their Montreal shows waited up to six hours). Don’t forget your formal wear and/or costume – they might not let you in without it! Quick costume tip, if you’re in need – cut up a piece of red paper into an “A” and pin it to your shirt. Instant Hester Prynne!
If you don’t feel like waiting in line all afternoon, you’ll probably be best off heading over to Pitchfork’s evening party at 285 Kent, which boasts a killer lineup stocked with badass women, including sets from Speedy Ortiz, Eleanor Friedberger, Priests, Perfect Pussy, and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. If your tastes are a little less abrasive, badass women are also in abundance at Double Denim’s showcase at Cameo Gallery, which features sets from more pop-inclined groups like Empress Of, Holychild, and Celestial Shore.
For better or worse, time to wind down your CMJ. Saturday, you’ve got another chance to see Arcade Fire if you missed Friday, so bundle up, bring a book, and hop in line. Alternatively, Exploding in Sound’s party at Silent Barn is fantastic, boasting sets from buzzy weird-pop artists like Porches. and Palehound, as well as Speedy Ortiz and our favorite Baltimore punk quartet, Roomrunner. My Social List is throwing a party at Muchmore’s with Weekend, Hunters, and Odonis Odonis, too. At night, if you’ve still got energy, there’s a great party at Death by Audio (we’re not sure who’s throwing it), with Hookworms, Ex-Cult, and another chance to see Kirin J. Callinan. But take it easy, you’ve only got five months until SXSW.