I’m bleeding exhausted. Those of you who were in New York City this past weekend, there’s probably a 100% chance you were CMJing. I too willfully and eagerly ran my body into the ground during CMJ, the College Music Journal’s music marathon/festival/4 day shit-show of every band you’ve ever wanted to see, back to back, and in a row all over the city. To do CMJ efficiently it requires a detailed schedule, cooperation from your friends who don’t want to go to rock shows, and preferably an all-access badge and a car. Look how sick my friends and I are: We made a separate Google calendar to load our annoyingly organized plan of attack. We printed the 104 page schedule offline, and had a 2 hour meeting/conference call debating which shows were worth it, which ones to get to early, which ones we could leave early, and compromises on shows we’d have to miss altogether. (still mad about Oh Land…)
ShingoSays: The CMJ Roundup: CMJ is no joke
I must have superpower partying skills, or something
Words Shingo aka Alex Gamlin for Afropunk.com
But it was thrilling! My favorite thing on this earth is to see no-name bands and discover that they’re dope. They look fearless, even though you know they’re terrified. Pulling out stops and being profane even though they know, no one in the room knows who the hell they are.
Basically, it’s my Christmas time.
I’m not sure how, but I made it through the week, with what some may call superhuman partying skills. I did it for you guys and now I look like…like…I look exactly like what happened; like I’ve been up til 6am everyday for the past 5 days. You’re Welcome. This is the run down of who was awesome, who was terrible, and why I have so many unexplained bruises.
Kick off! Im well rested. Freshly showered, and have my all access badge ready for some line jumps! CMJ HAS FINALLY ARRIVED! We started at the BMI Filter Showcase at the Highline Ballroom. Usually I’d NEVER go all the way out to doucheville to party, but it was Boy Crisis. No, you don’t understand. It’s BOY CRISIS
!! I saw them open for Die Antwoord back in July and have been hunting these kids down ever since, because they’re the band that makes you look twice and pay attention. They’re incredible! Disco. Dance. Witty. Keyboards. And Victor Vazquez :)
The first band to go on was a fun little Brooklyn 4 piece called Body Language
. The lead is this funky little black girl whose voice and style would remind you of Skye from Morcheba. Slightly funky, lots of disco, full yet breathy vocals that are perfect for dancing the night away. Loved!
Boy Crisis should have been on next, but NO! They cancelled and I was heart broken and ready to leave for about 4 seconds. Until Bad Rabbits came out and saved my life! This was my second “happy accident” seeing the Boston boys. I saw them at Brooklyn Bowl for the god awful Travie McCoy show this past summer, and they saved me from writing Travie a letter of concern. So I knew I wasn’t going to have to cause a scene and embarrass myself screaming “BRING OUT BOY CRISIS!!” Not necessary.
The boys in Bad Rabbits
are so rare right now as musicians doing poppy funk music. Rare because they do it really really really well. Also, every member of that band is alarmingly attractive. You almost can’t watch the whole show, because it’s too much.
They came out for the first song, and you would have thought in a swell of actual flames. The lead singer comes out and does a high jump into the air, lands on beat, and wails the first note pitch perfect. If Highline had pyrotechnics and fireworks, it would have been unnecessary. The dancefloor that was previously dead was suddenly banging! They did a full set complete with old and new jamz. Yes I meant to spell jams with a z, because it’s so funky the s doesn’t do it justice!! Seriously, if you’re not listening to Bad Rabbits, you need to figure out what you’ve been doing with your life.
Missing Boy Crisis turned out to be a bit of blessing because it meant we got to catch Kisses
playing the top floor of Santos right after. Kisses is a trio of precious Cali kids who do mellow electronic music. Think synchronized swimming in a hotel pool shaped like a kidey, with plastic flowers on swim caps, outside of San Benadino circa 1966. But it’s surprising dancey, and beautifully sung and composed. Love kisses!
Left immediately after the set, and went to meet up with some other friends who were doing shots at our go-to dive bar, Iggys. Did way too many shots in no time at all, and went to Pianos next door for the main event: Das Racist!
aka my current obsession aka the loves of my life aka you cant talk to me for 5 minutes without me talking about these boys aka what I’m listening to as I type this.
I was pretty excited.
Like every asshole you hate at shows, we wiggled and squirmed our way up to the front of Pianos tiny little stage, in a room that was stuffed with super fans, a few scene kids, and some very uncomfortable looking white people.
I’m going to try and explain how incredibly dope they were without sounding like a fan, even though I think I’ve made that part quite clear. It’s like DR got bored going to shows too, so they just figured out how to make a hip hop show a new experience of music and experiment. The answer turned out to be “do shots and do what you want.” I know that sounds asinine, but it works. Because the boys are so carefree, hype, colorful and obviously drunk the energy is perfect. The beats and lyrics so intriguing and thoughtful, it is literally impossible to not have a good time. To be entertained in the best kind of way! They’re jumping around, passing the mic, stumbling on beat, forgetting lyrics, making up new ones, and command a room over capacity to continue to crash into one another, to which we gladly abide. My alex-hype-points off the new mixtape Sit Down, Man go to “rapping 2 you” which is smooth and sexy with hard hitting delivery of incredible snarky lyrics. It’s definition, lyrical. They drop the funky beat and get into it. Clearly, I’m losing my mind and right before the 3rd verse Victor Vazquez aka Kool AD, knelt down to me and we sang a full 6 seconds of my favorite song together. Magical.
GOD DAMN I LOVE THOSE BOYS!
I had to work late on Wednesday, so I didn’t get the festivities going until almost midnight. First show of the night was Holy Ghost
at Bowery Ballroom with 4 of my craziest friends. We pregamed extraordinarily hard for this show, because I knew I had some serious dancing to do. This was my 3rd time seeing Holy Ghost, and I literally can’t see them enough. They’re signed to the Almighty DFA Records, and are one of those bands 3 notes in, you know they are the example for anyone trying in any given sound. They are perfection in their genre.
By the time our drunk asses made it inside, they were one song in, so it was a hassle and a half to get to the front. Yea whatever people, move, move, move your ass. We were pretty successful being dicks squeezing our way through, and almost made it to the front but some dude had to ruin it. I guess he wanted to see too, but whatever! It was also Alex’s (the lead singer’s) birthday and everyone cheered! But I in drunken excitement began to scream/sing “happy birthday’ to wich the entire Bowery Ballroom joined in. Who inappropriately starts happy birthday when everyone already hates you for squeezing them out of their spot? Me.
They were note perfect, the sound and lights were incredible, and all the friends I brought are Holy Ghosts fans now. One of the shows were you walk out, wanting to go back inside and have the do the show again top to finish! SO GOOD!
After witnessing glory, we somehow made it to galley bar to catch Cubic Zirconia’s
DJ set! I love CZ and I had some other friends who were gonna be there, so we made the drunken stumble over. We danced, we drank some more, I did a shot by myself, and then I remember giving my number to some dude on the street…
We were invited to Motorola’s Motocade party on Mulberry which was gonna be corporate awesomeness. Everything was free, beautiful, and efficient! Dave1 from Chromeo
and Justin Miller
from DFA were the DJs. Both of whom I’ve seen several times and both of whom kept the dancefloor active. Full disclosure: this party was sponsored by Belvedere so we were drinking free top shelf all night long. And a lot of it. They had old school pinball machines, video screens, a raffle for carnival prizes if you “liked” it on facebook. Im all about free shit, so I was all over those boys, and I still didn’t win. One of the stuffed animals was laying around lost by the end of the party, so I just drunkenly stole it. I named it Munchjausen, and have no recollection why I named him that.
After our bellies were full of mini eggrolls and vodka we headed to Santos fro Das Racist part 2!
RULES OF CMJ I DIDN’T LEARN UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE #1:
For multiple band shows where at least 3 of the acts are bigger than “small acts”, you have to commit to that location only. Get there, wait in line, and stay there until you’re ready to leave for good. This means also checking out wack openers. I know, it sucks, but that’s the way it goes.
RULES OF CMJ I DIDN’T LEARN UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE #2:
If you’re going to commit to a line, commit. Don’t think, oh we’ll check this out and come back to this line, IF THE LINE IS ALREADY LONG. That seems pretty logical, now, I guess.
You probably see where this is going. We left because we were pissed there wasn’t a way to jump the line because we had full access badges (that’s a horrible system btw, cmj!) and went back to Gallery Bar for DJ Hiro
out of Japan. It was alright, I guess, but we decided to try for the Hypem Showcase with Rye Rye, Mickey Rocks, Lexicon Don and literally 20+ other bands at Backstage Bar. It would have been LIVE but remember rule number 1? Yea. So we’re chilling in a line that’s a block long, badges still useless. Because we didn’t commit, we were slightly late to everything, waiting and missing shows. Great thing about CMJ is that there is too much to do to ever wait for anything. So we went to Le Possion Rouge, and caught the end of Rocky Business
. Love those guys! Rocking, Punky hip hop band with some really melodic tunes. considering they’re slightly a pop-punk band. They’re intriquing to say the least, and worth a listen. Best way to describe them would be “from Brooklyn”. And the lead singer wears sunglasses the whoooole night, so take that for whatever you like.
You’re probably exhausted already reading this, so imagine how my drunk ass felt going from this to that, back to that, to this to BACK TO GALLERY BAR for Johnny Nelson
and Mr. Starr City. More jumping around punky rocking tunes, which was pretty fun actually. The dude is pretty damn hype. I’ve seen Johnny perform A LOT, and this by far was my favorite time seeing him. It worked because it was upstairs of Gallery Bar so there was way more room and way better sound. Only thing is, Johnny Nelson has this “hype man-boy” who just kinda runs around, and I can’t even tell if he’s rapping the same song. He’s slightly distracting. Thank God for Starr and Johnny’s stage presence that makes him completely irrelevant. Hope that guy isn’t on payroll…
Cool show! Then I immediately passed out in the backseat of the car clutching Munchjausen for dear life and didn’t wake up until 3pm the next day.
I started Friday in Greenpoint and all my coworkers came to hear me read my awful poetry. We then all headed to Brooklyn Bowl for Zola Jesus
. Instead of ZJ, a coworker and I stopped of a quick pint at everyone’s favorite The Turkey’s Nest on N12 and Bedford for ungodly large pint of piss beer. We made it back to Manhattan to meet up with my roommates who couldn’t get into the Pure Volume house, because apparently there had been a line at that joint since 6pm. We went to Bowery Electric, but I was interested in drinking and not seeing another band. The goal was to do The Shank for Das Racist Round 3 late night, but having learned our Das Racist lesson the night before, we all agreed to get to the shank nice and really. My roomie is friends with the bouncer, so he told us that doors were at 10 and first bands would be on around midnight. Cool! We’ll get there around 2 and DR should be on by 3:30!
We picked up some refreshments from my friends house, and chilled there with literally a SACK of sparks for a pregame (bodega was out of fourloko :-/)
The Shank on this night was actually some Brooklyn hip Hop festival. Full of really mediocre acts. I kept saying “it’s early”, which it was, and every act seemed to get better and better.
That dude from Ren and Ten was there, I think. Some producer/rapper named Odyssey was there, and everyone was really big upping him. By the time he came on I was woefully unimpressed and was getting more aggravated and sober by the second. My mind was in a super altered place, it was hot, I was chain smoking, and there was no re entry to even get some fresh air. Das Racist could have saved the day, but by arounf 5am, I had given up hope. Even if they WERE going to come on at 7am…I didn’t have the patience to stand bored for 2 more hours. So we got Shrimp and garlic sauce from Wo Hop instead and it was AWESOME!
Last Night of CMJ was a bang! We started at 8 bond steet to see Cubic Zirconia LIVE! Their live show is always amazing! Tiombe, the lead, always has on cute little funky outfits and long blonde braids singing, screaming, and jumping around. I was on another Afro-punk assignment, meeting up with Ikey Owens from the Mars Volta and the rest of his new band Free Moral Agents. We arranged to meet at Bond for electic punk and free vodka. We got there around 10 and these kids had already put the SMASH on the drink situation. So there was one bar, one barTENDER open, 50 people at least, and I thirsty-ly waiting for one drink and I looked ridiculous.
The first act we caught was a singer named Shyvonne. She’s cute. Her hair is super colorful and fun, and I really liked her outfit. Im sure she is a lovely person!
However, she can’t hold a note, and I think everyone was offended by her not realizing that she was 10 steps off key.
It was annoying to the point I almost got back in the drink line with one bartender.
I did the interview with Free Moral Agents
(which you’ll read about next week!), and we dipped to check out Brooklyn Bowl.
Yes, the Brooklyn Bowl show where the surprise guests ended up being Kanye West and GZA orchestrated by the whole Fools Gold fam, including Atrak and Kingdom. The one everyone and their mom was at. Well, by the time we got there, that line was comical. It stretched across the street on to the next block, and people were STILL getting in line. YEA RIGHT! So went to Cameo for something much more Low key and checked out the house band, and The Arcrylics in the back, who I LOOOOVE!
After that little break, we headed to DJ Dhundee’s party at the Douglass Loft. It was set up for dancing only and everyone was indeed dancing the night away! It was about 2am and it was a peak hour! We did some house spins and all of the things one would do at a hidden loft party at 2am. It was great! We made it home at a reasonable 5:30am hour. I woke up the next morning relived to finally be able to sit down, and watched football all day long, and then watched Dexter.