Written by Eric Atienza
Photographed by Amy Davidson and Evan Sung
Opposite: Two Gentlemen
Photo Credit: Amy Davidson
no secret that New York City is a breeding ground
for bands and musicians. Every day in the clubs,
bars, coffee shops, lofts and basements of this
city musical alchemists refine their craft in an
attempt to turn plastic demo CDs into platinum records.
On any random day an adventurous spirit and a curious
ear can lead anyone into one of the city's myriad
venues to hear the next "It" band in the
making. Even this abundance and variety of musical
offerings, however, is nothing compared to New York
in the fall, for the dropping temperatures and shortening
days signal not only the end of summer, but also
the beginnings of the annual CMJ Music Marathon.
This year the 27th installment of College Music
Journal's five-day festival spanned over sixty clubs
and featured over a thousand bands. New underground
acts like Bon Iver, Matt and Kim and Elk City were
featured alongside underground veterans the Islands
and the recently reunited Lifetime. About-to-blow-up
acts like Black Kids and St. Vincent graced CMJ
stages as well as such long-time fan favorites as
Saves the Day, Mates of State and Spoon.
Sean of Sam Champion
Photo Credit Amy Davidson
Several bands recognizable from past NewYorkCool
reviews were in attendance as well. My Teenage Stride,
Celebration, Beat the Devil, the Harlem Shakes and
Sam Champion have all been reviewed on these pages
and made appearances during the festival. Though
there were more up-and-coming bands than any ten
journalists could hope to cover our humble stable
of writers caught what shows we could and distilled
what we heard to present a taste of some of the
best new music of the extravaganza.
At Pianos on the opening night hard and fast rock
rose to the top as The Octagon and the Unsacred
Hearts managed to shine brightest — not an
easy task when playing in the fantastic line-up
that was present.
Photo Credit Amy
cheeky, irreverent hilarity of the Two Man Gentleman
Band managed to make an impression as well that
night in one of the most unique sets of the entire
Later in the week the Sahara Hot Nights put on a
stellar show at the Bowery Ballroom followed by
the just as impressive Alberta Cross.
Maria Andersson of Sahara
Photo Credit Evan Sung
Photo Credit Evan Sung
The Maccabees rounded out that night in addictive
fashion with a set of driving power-pop.
At the Fillmore The Apes took the stage making quite
an impression with a dissonant, visceral style.
They were followed by hip-hop duo Yo Majesty whose
rhymes were as tight as a hipster’s pants,
and the always entertaining Spank Rock.
As another CMJ Music Marathon drew to a close all
those lucky enough to attend any of the dates came
away richer, with at the very least one new band
to join the others in our CD racks and on our hard
drives. We’ll see in the coming weeks and
months which bands have splashed big enough to create
far-reaching ripples that will carry their music
to all corners of the country and world. In the
end, more than a plethora of shows, more than partying
with the bands, getting the word out about new music
is what CMJ is all about. And we at NewYorkCool
are glad to do our part.