College Music Journal’s 2005 Music Marathon
New York, New York • September 14-17, 2005
CMJ celebrated its 25th anniversary this year exposing potential music industry hopefuls from across the country to new bands, new music and new ideas. Hosting the opening ceremony was none other than rap royalty himself, Reverend Run of Run DMC fame. Was this a sign of the music industries’ slide into Rock ‘n’ Roll oblivion? Run’s keynote address included snippets of his early days as a rapper, his upcoming solo album and his upcoming MTV reality television show, “Run’s House” labeled by the cable network as “television’s first Hip-Hop reality sitcom”.
Surprisingly, the hip hop and rap genres were poorly represented at this year’s CMJ despite their choice for Keynote Speaker. A buffet of panels incorporated some of the newest changes we have been seeing this year in music. Panels such as: “Credibility in Criticism: Responsibilities of the Music Media in the Age of Blogs and MP3s” addressed the evolving ethical and legal responsibilities journalists face in this constantly expanding technological age. “Break it in the Blogosphere” focused on Internet radio, podcasts and blogs and their position as the new ‘zines of the 21st Century. With the more traditional panel subjects such as label startups, home recording and how to book your band, CMJ certainly provided its audience with the music industry basics college kids and emerging bands are hungry for.
But, CMJ is not just a platform for good information but also for good music and this year was no exception. Certainly the “darlings” of this year CMJ had to be The Arcade Fire who performed at the Mercury Lounge and the most coveted spot of the Marathon; the infamous Central Park Summerstage at Rumsey Playfield. A big fan of The Arcade Fire, Ziggy Stardust himself, Mr. David Bowie joined them for their Summerstage set. I could see the draw Bowie would have to this band. They are eclectic, performance driven and their orchestral use of instruments is reminiscent of Bowie’s own diverse musical past. If the crowd was any indication of this band’s future, we’ll be hearing a lot from them.
So many showcases so little time, but the one of the most memorable in my opinion was the Liquor and Poker showcase at The Continental. The Thieves, who currently hold a spot on Liquor and Poker’s band roster, lived up to their name when their drummer accidentally “stole” my purse! Actually, I was busy chatting with The Black Halos’ lead guitar player Jay, in the green room after the show and like a bad New Yorker set my purse down for a minute when The Thieves were loading up their equipment. I made the mistake of putting my purse on top of the drummer’s gear and when it came time to load up, The Thieves took an “everything goes” mentality! Luckily, I noticed it was missing and Jay helped me track down the culprits before they left. We all had a good laugh at irony of the event.
Speaking of The Black Halos, their performance at CMJ was spectacular. Fresh off their new release Alive without Control, also on Liquor and Poker, the boys from Vancouver once again proved nothing can keep them down. After what can be only be described as a most heinous year for the Halos (injuries, family deaths), their act was spot on. I never get tired of seeing Billy Hopeless gyrate on stage like a stripper, and the addition of guitarist Adam Becvare has only made this bands sound that much sweeter. Along with lead guitarist Jay, bassist Denyss and drummer Rob, The Black Halos always put on a solid rock show and I never miss a chance to see them play live. If you haven’t heard them, go to their website (http://www.blackhalos.net) and give this band a listen.
Also notable were the band Towers of London, the latest English import blasting their version of glam punk rock. Playing at Scenic on Avenue B to a sold-out crowd they are infamous for spitting at one another on stage. This band often is finds itself riding the fence of love and hate when it comes to their own fans. Love them or hate them, either way the band could care less. In fact, they seem to enjoy the controversy.
From Scenic to Mercury Lounge again, what do you get when you combine a lead singer who garners comparisons to David Byrne and smoking indie rock licks? If you said, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, you’re a winner. This Brooklyn band has had its share of buzz but they still have no record deal. What’s up with that? It’s hard to believe there haven’t been offers but who knows, maybe Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is holding out for the big enchilada. David Geffen are you listening?
Overall, CMJ supplied NYC with a nice wrap up for the summer. True, CMJ’s focus is to provide college kids an opportunity to participate in the real life music industry experience but it’s also a great chance for us fans to see hear some new music and for bands/musicians to get the exposure they so desperately need. Music fans packed into 65 venues across the city and CMJ once again provided 100’s of bands and over 100,000 music devotees with the opportunity to continue the alternative music revolution
CMJ Music Marathon: http://www.cmj.com/marathon/ ◼