We’re here to help you navigate the marathon of shows.
The CMJ Music Marathon takes over New York City starting tomorrow, and it can be a great way to see some of your old favorites alongside buzzy new bands. You can be that in-the-know person who saw next year’s hot new act back before anyone had heard of them.
As always, it’s going to be an overwhelming mass of live music. You certainly won’t get to see everything, but we’re here to help you find the shows you really can’t miss.
Tuesday, October 18
If you can get out during the afternoon, head over to The Living Room (154 Ludlow St.) to check out The City and Horses at 2 p.m. as part of a Paper Garden Records showcase. The NYC act plays slightly maudlin pop-rock with a Velvet Underground-ish bent to it, but can also bring it for sunnier, uptempo numbers. If you show up early you can hear Big Tree’s 1 p.m. set, and then afterward hang around to hear Dad Rocks!, Tall Ships, and Pree.
If you were completely bummed that the Afro-Punk Festival was canceled because of weather this year, you can make up for it by going to their showcase at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn) called “Death to Hip-Hop.” The main act, Death, formed in the 1970s — originally as an R&B group before becoming a punk band — breaking up in 1977 and reuniting in 2009. They will be joined by Ninjasonik, who mix hip-hop with elements of punk and general craziness, and Cerebral Ballzy, who play a brash and raw style of punk that harkens back to the early days of the genre. CB is always wild and unpredictable in their live shows. The whole show starts at 9 p.m.
Another option is to head to the Glasslands Gallery (289 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn) to check out Stereogum‘s showcase. The whole thing starts at 9 p.m. with Hollerado, but if you come later you can see Delicate Steve at midnight and Titus Andronicus at 1 a.m.
If you’re feeling political, head over to The Delancey (168 Delancey Street) at 11 p.m. to see Outernational play their “Occupy CMJ” set. Normally a punk-and-world-beats-infused rock act with strong opinions, they’ve assembled “a very special large band” to join them onstage to celebrate their new release, “Todos Somos Ilegales.”
If you think you can get in, you can also try and check out riot grrrl supergroup Wild Flag over at the Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey Street) at 10:30.
Wednesday, October 19
This is a good day to camp out at the Ace Hotel (20 W. 29th Street) — maybe get a wi-fi password and pretend to be “working remotely.” Seattle radio station KEXP will be holding intimate recording sessions with artists all day long, starting at 9:45 a.m. They’ll be there all week, but Wednesday will offer up sets from Zola Jesus, Portugal. The Man., and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
You may also want to pop out of the Ace and head across the river to see the Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger play Public Assembly (70 N. 6th Street, Brooklyn). She goes on at 3:15.
You’ve got two chances to check out DOM on Wednesday — first at 5:30 p.m. when they play the Union Square Puma store (33 Union Square West), then again at Cantora Labs’ Smartlounge (190 Allen Street) at 7:00 p.m. Head to the Glasslands Gallery at 9 p.m. for a showcase with Trash Talk, Tanlines, King Krule, Little Red, Teengirl Fantasy and a DJ Set from Lemonade. You could also jet back to Manhattan for a midnight set from BOBBY at Fat Baby (112 Rivington Street).
Thursday, October 20
The first thing you’re going to want to do is head back to the Ace Hotel for a 2:30 p.m. set from Dum Dum Girls. They’ll also play an acoustic set at 7 p.m. at Cantora Labs’ Smartlounge, where you can also check out AraabMUZIK at 4 p.m. Unknown Mortal Orchestra will be playing two sets in one day as well. They are at the Union Square Puma store at 4:30 p.m. and Cantora Labs’ Smartlounge at night.
Punk label Fat Wreck Chords will hold its showcase at Union Hall starting at 7 p.m. Arteries, Old Man Markley, Banner Pilot, The Flatliners and Dead to Me will tear up the stage for that one.
If punk’s not your bag, head over to Spike Hill at 9:45 p.m. instead and check out The Twees. Despite the cute name, these dudes have a Strokes-influenced garage rock sound with a little pop flair. Unicycle Loves You, Hollerado, Wild Palms and Chad Valley are all at the venue on Thursday night.
Friday, October 21
The biggest show Friday night — and therefore probably the hardest to get into — will be Neon Indian and Purity Ring at Webster Hall (125 E. 11th Street). That starts at 7 p.m., but you’ll need to get there early to line up for the chillwave. If you hang around after the show, you can catch more bands at midnight, including Knife Party and AC Slater.
Yet again you can head to the Ace Hotel for some music — EMA will perform at 12:30 p.m. and Atlas Sound at 4:30 p.m. If you can’t get into Neon Indian, head over to DROM (85 Avenue A) at 7 p.m. and check out Delicate Steve for an experimental blend of soul and indie rock. You can get a second chance to catch Purity Ring if you head over to Mercury Lounge at midnight or instead head to Fifth Estate (506 5th Avenue, Brooklyn) to check out Life Size Maps 12:00 a.m. set. If you’re still raring to go at 2:30 a.m., head to Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street) to check out the smooth and poppy Montreal singer d’Eon.
Saturday, October 22
You’ve survived to the last day of the festival, and it’s time to end it with a bang. You can start over at Webster Hall, where CSS, EMA and Men will be playing beginning at 7 p.m. If you’d rather hear some metal, Meek is Murder is playing Union Pool (484 Union Avenue) at 9 p.m.
Saturday brings another opportunity to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra, in case you missed their previous shows. They’ll be playing at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn) at 10 p.m., though you may want to get there in time for Gotye’s 9 p.m. set as well.
There’s a lot of overlap tonight, so you’ll have to make some choices about what you like. If you’re into punk, Youth of Today will play Santo’s Party House (96 Lafayette) at 11 p.m., at the same time that DOM plays another set at Spike Hill. You can close out the festival with Yellow Ostrich playing at The Delancey at 11:40 p.m. or Gang Gang Dance at the Bowery Ballroom at midnight.
Then, on Sunday, you’ll get to sleep off that musical hangover.
Check out the CMJ website for the full schedule of music, films and discussions, plus ticket info.