Why You Missed All Of The CMJ Bands You Were Totally Going To See


In today’s era of connected entertainment, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, ‘smartphones’ and other avenues of ‘multiplatform social networking exist to make it easier for one to communicate with one’s friends, follow people around who have vaguely attractive Facebook photos or desirable internet branding, and assemble a public calendar of relevant events so that you can choose what you want to do based on an estimate of who else is going.

These communication methods should theoretically lend themselves well to formulating some kind of loose ‘plan’ among your social circle to attend a series of bands you all enjoy or feel ‘open’ to experiencing during the highly-relevant annual music festival called CMJ, when a lot of bands from the internet arrive in New York causing every venue you normally frequent to have a ‘sick lineup’.

During CMJ, people you ‘follow on Twitter’ all year begin tweeting things like ‘[BAND] iss totes killlllng it at [VENUE]!!!!’ and ‘[BAND] getting the crowd started @[VENUE], great energy here…’ and ‘CROWDSURFN @ [VENUE], SIQQQQ.’ Your friends will post status updates about drinking/substance use during CMJ of the sort you would expect to be associated with not a music festival but some kind of ‘boot camp’ or challenging marathon run, for example ‘Day 4 of CMJ, my blood is now 70% alcohol’ or ‘Up and at ‘em for early [BLOG NAME] show at [VENUE], then on to [ANOTHER VENUE] for [RECORD LABEL] showcase then [YET ANOTHER VENUE] for [‘SECRET SPECIAL GUEST’] band, will I survive’ or status updates about being particularly exhausted, trying to ‘pull out’ another ‘crazy night’ or fearing death presumably due to excess.

You might read all of these tweets and status updates and feel excited and attempt to assemble a CMJ ‘plan of attack’ for yourself and your friends. The official CMJ website seeks to facilitate this by implementing a ‘schedule builder’ so that you can put all the bands you are theoretically going to see into one schedule so you will always know where to go for which ‘act.’

But one has to be pretty hardcore to attend a rigorous schedule of musical events solo. CMJ is best when it is a social experience. In an ironic twist, the very blog buzz and social networking utilities  — and, crucially, the ‘friends’ that drive those machines — that cause one to say ‘man, I can’t wait to see some CMJ bands’ will actually cause one to miss most or all of the bands that one elected to be ‘super psyched to see.’

The following is presented as actually representative of the average person’s CMJ schedule.

October 18

Read several tweets from major music blogs that are hosting CMJ ‘showcases’ pertaining to their CMJ preparations, e.g. ‘we kick off tomorrow!’; read several tweets from beloved internet bands e.g. ‘just arrived in New York for CMJ.’ Compose a text message to 1-3 ‘IRL friends’ known to be especially enthusiastic regarding CMJ to the effect of ‘do you want to come over at 7:30 tomorrow and pregame while we decide whether to go to [VENUE] or [DIFFERENT VENUE]?,’ receive replies to the effect of ‘sweet.’ Receive a text from a different friend about going out drinking tonight, reply ‘naw imma stay in tonight, big week ahead.’

October  19

Part of the drum kit of ‘priority band’ GOBBLE GOBBLE

Work all day while checking your phone to see ‘what people wanna do.’ Check CMJ schedules and the website ‘OhMyRockness’ to think about which opportunities have the best overlap between ‘multiple bands I like’ and ‘venue I enjoy.’ Highlight 5-7 bands you consider ‘priority’ to see, note they are playing multiple times. Receive a text message from a friend saying he is not going to go out tonight since he is helping a friend with his ‘gear’. Figure you will not go out tonight either because one of the ‘priority’ bands is playing at Bowery Ballroom and you hate Bowery Ballroom and you will instead see them when they play at the preferred, smaller/less commercial [DIY VENUE] later in the week. Think about maybe going out for a drink and seeing like 1 band early but end up staying home because you have to work tomorrow and it is only the first day of CMJ.

October 20

Text your close friend of the same gender to see if they will come to this totally sweet showcase you kind of want to see. The friend agrees; tweet about ‘can’t wait to see [@BAND, @BAND & @BAND] at [@VENUE] tonight!’ When work gets out you text a few more people ‘going to [VENUE] with [FRIEND] round 9, you down?’ only to find out that the majority of your friends are planning to go to a different showcase ‘all the way out east ass’ in Manhattan. Tepidly text your close friend and ask if the friend feels like going to Manhattan instead. The friend tells you it’s really far and the friend is actually kind of tired and not feeling well and no longer wants to go out anyway but they will take a nap and text you and maybe you will meet up later. Get dressed to go out, think about needing to use the B train while ‘pregaming’ by drinking, think about how long it will take to get there and how it seems really far. Decide it would be sweet to see [BAND] at the Manhattan showcase but you can just go see them in your own neighborhood later in the week. Drink and use Gchat until 1 AM, go to sleep.

October 21

Wake up thinking you will absolutely go see some CMJ bands tonight and there is no way you will miss them and you will go alone if you have to. Receive a text message from a friend informing you that they and several others of your friends plan to see a band you really like. Sweet. The band plays early so you agree to meet at someone’s apartment at 7 and ‘pre-game.’ Arrive at 7 and play ‘Left 4 Dead 2’ on Xbox 360 while your friend’s girlfriend needs to shower and do her hair. Others arrive at 8, play ‘Left 4 Dead 2’ with you. One acquaintance wants to purchase drugs of some kind and says ‘the guy’ is coming in 15 minutes. Everyone waits 1.5 hours for your acquaintance to meet his ‘guy,’ the guy calls your acquaintance and says ‘I couldn’t get it, sorry man.’ You text your friend who is already at the venue and he says the band you wanted to see is setting up. Everyone agrees that there’s ‘like no way’ you can get there in time and you all instead decide to get wasted at the same bar where you always get wasted.

October 22

You feel tired from being uncommonly wasted all week. Your friend asks why you have been drinking so much and you say ‘it’s CMJ week’. You sleep until 11 PM when you are woken up by a text message from an acquaintance saying they are going to see a band you like. You drink really fast on the way out of the house and bring the bottle with you because the event is ‘BYOB’. Sit on a couch trying to keep your eyes open and wondering ‘why am I so drunk’ while you wait like 30 minutes for a band that is taking forever to set up. Sit through 2 sets, find out there are still like 3 more bands until the band you like and it will be 3 AM before you can go home. You drunkenly make out with a person of the opposite sex who is way too young for you + has a ‘significant other’, go home by yourself and pass out at 2 AM.

October 23

It is the last day of CMJ. You feel determined to see at least one of your ‘priority’ bands. Looking in your Facebook events reveals there are multiple ‘Hangover parties’ occurring where you can see a ‘priority band.’ You meet your friends at [VENUE] where the band you passed on earlier in the week will be making a third appearance. The other bands are okay but you spend the whole time waiting for drinks at the bar and smoking cigarettes outside and you don’t really hear any of the other bands.

Your friends get bored and leave because they don’t like this upcoming ‘priority band’ as much as you do. You text several people who vaguely promise to come but do not. You walk around the venue in a strange and lonesome haze but do not see anyone you know. You learn that the band you wanted to see is no longer ‘on the bill.’

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