10 Shows You Shouldn't Miss At The CMJ Music Marathon

by BILLY GRAY · October 14, 2010

The CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival kicks off Tuesday and runs through next Saturday the 23rd. With over 1,200 participating artists, planning a schedule can make even the most diligent indie snob's head explode. We're here to help you plan your attack. -

Without further ado (I got a headache just scanning the list of acts), some highlights:


1) Phoenix, with The Dirty Projectors and Wavves (Wednesday, 10/20, 8:00-9:10pm @ Madison Square Garden:)

The biggest show on the lineup features a trio of well-established acts rocking the city's largest venue. Still, there's room for some surprises in the space between Phoenix's electronic-leaning pop rock, the Projectors' art rock, and Wavves' lo-fi "chillwave."

2) Holy Ghost and Matthew Dear (Saturday, 10/23, 9pm-6am @ Public Assembly)

Technically, this Fixed affair might not be a part of the Marathon. But it lets two of CMJ's finest electronic bookings let loose in a proper dance club setting, with delightfully improper dance club hours. Hometown boys Holy Ghost and Matthew Dear will be joined by Crocodiles, Javelin, Gold Panda, Jamaica, Kisses, Dave P, JDH at Public Assembly. As for the festival proper, Holy Ghost rocks Bowery Ballroom from midnight 'til 12:30 am on Wednesday 10/20, while critical darling Dear will play an abbreviated (3:30-3:50am) set at Webster Hall on Friday 10/22.

3) Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan Showcases (Pitchfork: Thursday, 10/21-Saturday 10/23, 2pm-Late @ Brooklyn Bowl; Brooklyn Vegan: Saturday, 10/23, Noon-6pm @ Public Assembly)

Two of the more prominent indie rock blogs throw dueling CMJ showcases on Saturday, 10/23. Pitchfork takes over Brooklyn Bowl and BV lands at nearby Public Assembly. It's tough to tell who has the upper hand. Only Pitchfork has released participating acts (including the buzzy Beach Fossils, Lower Dens, Avey Tare and, busy guy, Matthew Dear). Pitchfork's CMJ festivities also get a head start, as its "Offline Festival"  runs Thursday through Saturday, starting at 2pm and going late. Then again, BV's is free.

Other Top Shows:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Friday, 10/22, Midnight-12:30am @ Mercury Lounge)

Frankie and the Outs (Saturday, 10/23, 11:50pm-12:20am @ Bruar Falls)

Gay for Johnny Depp (Thursday, 10/21, 11:00-11:40pm @ Death by Audio)

Gringo Star (Friday, 10/22, 9:30-10pm @ Cameo Gallery)

Hey Champ (Thursday, 10/21, Midnight-12:30pm @ Bowery Ballroom)

School of Seven Bells (Saturday, 10/23, Midnight-12:45am @ Santos Party House)

Surfer Blood (Wednesday, 10/20, 8:00-9:00pm @ Webster Hall)

Need more help? Check out our Field Guide to last year's Marathon. Then, in the face of CMJ's sprawling embarrassment of riches, just nail the schedule to your wall, throw a dart, and go wherever it leads you.