Have no fear, readers, I have not forsaken thee.
As some of you may know, and as some of you may not know, CMJ has taken over New York City. What’s CMJ, you ask? (If you don’t ask this, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph). CMJ stands for College Music Journal, which is a service that keeps track of songs/albums/artists that get played on College Stations. They run a magazine called CMJ Music Monthly. It’s not either of those things that we’re excited about, however. Every year, CMJ hosts the CMJ Music Marathon: 4 nights (usually – this year it’s five) of some of the hottest indie artists/bands (of any genre) out there. Every venue in New York City (or, at least those in Manhattan and some in Brooklyn) is filled with ridiculously long shows. On average, they go from about 8pm – 2am. Record labels have showcases of bands, promotion companies host after-parties… it’s nuts. For around $500, anyone can buy a badge, which gets them in to every single show (well, or at least it’s supposed to – but they only let in a certain number of badges per show, so if you’re not early and a show is mega popular, you’re SOL). Some tickets for the CMJ shows are sold ahead of time which is the best way to guarantee you get in, but the shows are usually more expensive, and less tickets are on sale, which means that you have to jump on them quickly.
From experience, I can say that usually the best way to handle CMJ is either/or — do it all, or don’t do it. If you’re going to get caught up in all of it, then buy a badge, (or volunteer and get one for “free”), and go to a ton of shows. Buying tickets ahead of time is fine and dandy, but the shows are usually ridiculously packed, often with people who don’t know much about them, and are only worth the extra money if it’s a) a band that rarely comes through town (and this is new york, so let’s get serious – most bands come through here), or b) a ton of bands you like playing in one night.
This year, I didn’t have the money to buy myself a badge, and I didn’t have the foresight to buy tickets ahead of time. However, since this is the biggest CMJ in years, it’s hard to sit by and hear about it from everyone else. So, I’ve taken a new approach: cheap. I’m going to free shows, letting cheap ticket price (and interest) determine where I go, and seeing how it works. We’re more than halfway through, and so far the results have been interesting.
I promise to update with a few words about the artists I’ve seen (most of whom you probably haven’t heard about — and I’m not saying that to be snobbish, I’m saying it because I have a hunch that it’s true) as soon as I get a moment to sit down and actually type things out. (I know, I’m typing this out right now, but it’s taken me all of five minutes, and now I have to go because Annie Leibowitz is speaking at a bookstore in Manhattan, and I don’t want to miss it.)