NEW YORK “" It’s been an exhausting first night of the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival.‚ The name doesn’t lie. I felt like I was sprinting around lower Manhattan this evening, trying to catch as many shows as I could. I wasn’t entirely successful.
My night got started with a Media Meet and Greet at Sutra Lounge in the East Village, the purpose of which was apparently to get all of us journalists sufficiently liquored up before we headed off to our respective concerts. It should be noted that, at least at the CMJ festival, the media is less “elite” and more “Joe Six-Pack”; the drink special of choice was canned Pabst Blue Ribbon.
At about 7 p.m., I headed off to try and catch Mark Ronson’s DJ set at SOB’s, with little hope that he would perform before 9, when I had to dash over to Santos Party House to see Shiny Toy Guns.
After that strikeout, I was even more anxious to see Shiny Toy Guns and finally hear some live music at what was, after all, a live music festival. I wasn’t disappointed.
Halloween came early to downtown Manhattan, as Shiny Toy Guns barreled through an ear-splitting 70-minute set punctuated by excessive fog and industrial-goth synthesizers that threatened to split open the amplifiers. The small but respectable crowd loved every minute of it. In addition to fan favorites like “Rainy Monday” and “Don’t Cry Out,” the band showcased a handful of well-received songs from their new record, out November 4th.I also was able to catch the tail end of a solid opening set courtesy of Jonezetta.
Further east, as Tuesday night was turning into Wednesday morning, fans of Lykke Li braved the overnight chill to line up outside the Bowery Ballroom, where the Swede was performing for a capacity crowd. After about 25 minutes of standing in the same spot, I decided to call it a night.
One thing I noticed while bouncing around New York’s live music venues like a pinball tonight was that the CMJ extravaganza has somehow managed to give Manhattan the unusual feel of a college campus. Festival-goers were out in droves, with many of us wearing our plastic guest passes on lanyards around our necks like badges of honor “" and not unlike freshman year dorm keys.
Check back here Wednesday for continuing coverage of the CMJ Music Marathon. Highlights from day two will include a panel discussion on politics and music, plus live performances from An Horse and Beach House.