CMJ Music Marathon Returns

Staff Writer

Music fans, it is that time of year again. The CMJ Music Marathon is set to kick off for the 33rd time this October.

From Oct. 15-19, CMJ will fill more than 80 venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn with more than 1,400 performances and 100 conference events. This is not your typical festival, with big names and crowds in the thousands. Instead, CMJ focuses on tomorrow’s superstars, spreading them throughout clubs, concert halls and theaters.

CMJ, which originally stood for College Media Journal, held its first iteration of the music marathon in 1981 with only two bands. From there, it has grown to become one of the most well-known and respected showcases for new artists ready for their big break. The festival’s attendance is now around 120,000, giving these unknown musicians plenty of people on which to make an impression.

Many artists that have played CMJ in the past are now at the forefront of their particular genre, with some having broken into the mainstream. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs played at CMJ in 2002, one year before “Maps” made them famous. In 2004, Arcade Fire played at the 250-capacity Mercury Lounge for CMJ. Six years later, the band performed at Madison Square Garden. Mumford & Sons had a CMJ showcase in 2009, one year before their debut album went multi-platinum, and four years before playing a sold-out show at the tennis stadium in Forest Hills.

So what does CMJ have to offer this year? There is an expansive variety of artists and bands that will be playing over the course of the festival. Most of these bands are unknown, though quite a few have built up some buzz over the last couple of years. Savages is a post-punk revival band from London that is becoming well-known for their ferocious live performance. Glasser is an experimental singer-songwriter that combines ethereal sounds with solid songwriting. Father John Misty is a folk singer that dips into psychedelic rock and is a former member of Fleet Foxes. P.O.S. is an alternative rapper from the underground Minneapolis scene.

Additional artists are still being added to the line-up.

If you are low on cash, keep an eye out, as there are often many free shows open to the public during CMJ. One example is KEXP’s Live Broadcast at Judson Memorial Church, located at 55 Washington Square South. From Oct. 16 to Oct. 18, a number of bands and DJs will keep the music playing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To purchase tickets to this year’s festival, visit Discounts are offered for those with a valid student ID. If you do not want to shell out the money for the entire week and are only interested in a couple of showcases, contact the venue of that specific show, as there are sometimes tickets for individual concerts available.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788.