LocalCut is Everywhere! (Anika Sabin's CMJ Report)
[This report comes via LocalCut contributor Anika Sabin. It's not her fault it's late. -Ed.] October is upon us! For Portlanders this means bundling up, caravaning out to Sauvie Island and taking refuge in bookstores and coffee shops across our rain-weathered city. For New Yorkers however, mid-October means the ascension of CMJ. From all over our bright nation, record labels, music directors, producers, marketers, bands, and fans alike shuffle into the five boroughs for four feverishly packed days of conference panels, shows, and all the opportunities you'll ever need to schmooze with the biggest tools of the industry.
While I'm an ex-New Yorker myself, last year's CMJ trip proved to be completely disconcerting, overwhelming, and, well, downright sleazy. From run-ins with label reps who seemed to be stuck in Miami Vice to MySpace-obsessed hillbilly emo bands lookin' for someone to relate to (in their van), I saw New York from an angle I told myself I'd never have to see twice. That is, until I agreed to go again (for old time's sake?).
After all, there were some good times had… my CMJ highlight being (which I'll never play down) the brief yet exquisite moment Lady Sovereign signed my tits. So naturally this year, I'd have to one-up myself. I focused my sights on Ira Glass. Yes, before the week was over I'd have his glorious signature across my bosom. Well, naturally this didn't happen (yet, that is).
I missed his Q & A, as did I miss beloved Portlander Adrian Orange, who later sent me this lovely anecdote of his east coast travels:
in new jersey in asbury park there were a group of
birds sitting still on the beach
we walked down by the water
shannon found a shell in the sand
tim got his feet wet
the abandoned buildings looked good in the sea
we got hot dogs and came back to ny.
Got caught up looking for Neck Face graffiti and decent bubble tea only to miss Old Time Relijun. And, while still looking, the Shaky Hands started across town and M.I.A. took the stage uptown. Former freelancer Michael Byrne (now Baltimore-bound) was also skulking about the festival, and sadly, I missed him narrowly as well. I'm reminded of Jay Horton's coverage of Lollapalooza this past summer when he eloquently summed things up: “the nature of festivals is to miss things.”
What I gratefully didn't miss was Portland-bred, up-and-coming K Records kiddies Hornet Leg, who thoroughly wooed the New York crowd at both the Glasslands Gallery and at the K Records showcase staged at Luna Lounge. Below is a little amateur videoing on my part. Bear with the jolting zooms, and hold on tight around minute two when Claudia totally flips out on the drums.
For those who are considering forging our great continent for next year's CMJ conference, here's some tried and true advice from yours truly:
1. When bantering with strangers, maybe—just maybe—make sure you know to whom you're talking to before you rag on a band your listener may or may not be in. Awkward apologies, Saturday Looks Good to Me…
2. I know this goes against natural impulse, but avoid free things,* i.e. CMJ mix CDs, MySpace CD openers, and dance club coupons (I don't care how alluring that circa-1997 Celtic design is, I mean it!). *Unless they can be consumed and are alcoholic.
3. Wherever you go, bring the class, PDX style. Instead of buying a nine-dollar glass of PBR, or an eight-dollar shot of Maker's Mark (yeah, thanks, Terminal 5), roll up with your own convenience store pre-game plan. This advice I'm sure will come as no surprise, as New York is notoriously expensive, but honestly, Brooklyn bars make Holocene look like they're just giving away drinks.
4. Bring your own music. Sure over 300 bands are being offered to you on a silver platter, but we all need our space. And once you get into the heart of Manhattan, you're gonna need some Stumptown music therapy to get you through the tourists and traffic. The Hunches gave me enough gusto to bust through 5th avenue shoppers, while Au and Little Wings proved perfect for those mid-afternoon Central Park strolls.