Won’t you meet me downtown?: How to do CMJ the right way.

A few weeks ago (Sorry for the late post. Canned Youth has been under the weather) the  annual CMJ Music Marathon took place. This means that for 5 days, by command of the College Music Journal, over 1,200 bands and artists descended upon venues all over lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If going to shows is your thing, then it’s kind of like Christmas. And this year CMJ Santa brought lots of presents. Kanye West surprised the Brooklyn Bowl crowd at Pitchfork’s #Offline festival with a performance. Even more impressive, Daft Punk surprised everyone by playing a set at the Phoenix and Wavves show at Madison Square Garden.

Regardless of whether you are still sad about missing Daft Punk, CMJ is most importantly about up-and-coming bands. Looking a the schedule is overwhelming. It is not only huge, but also requires obscure music knowledge that you probably only posses if you work for CMJ (Don’t let a hipster tell you different).  Canned Youth wants to help you out. Behold, the no bullshit rules of how to do CMJ right:

1. When in doubt, free shows are king.

With so many shows at CMJ, it’s impossible to see all of them. If there isn’t a band playing that you know you want to see that night, then just go to one of the many free shows each day. The bands are bound to be good and you might even get to see the next big thing before they blow up.

2. Make a list, check it twice.

If you go onto the CMJ website they let you compile your own schedule for the weekend. Just go through and add all the bands you know or have heard might be good. This is the simplest way to get organized for the week and is worth the small investment in time.

3. Take advantage of weekend day shows

Some venues, especially in Brooklyn have specials CMJ events on Saturday and Sunday. They are a lot of fun and probably have drink specials and other good stuff.

4. Gear up your comrades!

CMJ compadres Haley and James on our way to CMJ shenanigans

I knew you wouldn’t be going alone, anyway. But seriously get your friends stoked on CMJ and you’ll have even more fun.

5. Thou must get the nachos at Pianos.

Pianos is a bar in the lower east side that almost always has great bands and great specials for CMJ (A year ago they had FREE bloody Marys all day!). They also have these amazing nachos:

These are the most distinct nachos you will ever have. I call them curry nachos because that’s what they taste like. Everyone who has them becomes slightly obsessed with them, you’ve been warned.

6. Pace yourself…

They call CMJ a music marathon for a reason. As Canned Youth has personally learned, keep in mind your itinerary for the night. If you are going to an open vodka bar hosted by Gorilla vs. Bear like we did later, then make sure you take it easy at the first show. Otherwise you end up passing out early and missing all the good late-night times. Not cool.

(Post title = lyrics from The Babies Meet Me in The City)

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