This week, New York’s answer to the mega music festival, the CMJ Music Marathon, will take over the city for five days and nights of live shows, panels, films, and more. More than 1,000 bands performing at venues across Manhattan and Brooklyn, including quite a few queer ladies and awesome females not to be missed.
Wild Flag returns to New York as the CMJ darlings they deserve to be, their self-titled debut album in tow. It seems like just yesterday that Carrie Brownstein admitted to the existence of the band, a collaboration of Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Helium’s Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole of The Minders (who used to open for Sleater Kinney). If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out this supergroup live, put it at the top of your list. The majority of their album was recorded live to give the same feeling as their energy packed shows. Those nostalgic for SK’s heyday will enjoy the return of the Carrie Brownstein guitar-leg-kick, and a powerful new sound from four of the best female musicians out there.
Two other staples of the queer music scene, MEN and Making Friendz, who share bandmate Tami Hart between them, are also performing this week, along with CSS, the raucous Brazillian electropop band who gave us such party hits as “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex.” And just because it’s too awesome not to repeat: for anyone who’s forgotten, CSS stands for Cansei de Ser Sexy. Translation: “I’m tired of being sexy,” which is a reported quote from Beyoncé. Expect plenty of dancing and pop synth magic when any of these three bands take the stage.
The really cool part of having the music scene glom to New York for one week is that the awesome local queer bands we’ve all known and love get to have some larger than life spotlight. Fresh from a tour in their Kickstarter-earned tour van (true story: even the steering wheel is named after someone who donated!), indie rock punk powerhouse The Shondes will play a homecoming show that doubles as an album release party for their latest release, Searchlights, and their first time on the CMJ roster.
They’re sharing a bill with Amanda Palmer-endorsed songstress Alina Simone at the Bitch magazine Showcase, along with Laura Stevenson and the Cans and Caithlin De Marrais of Rainer Maria fame (raise your hand if you still sometimes listen to your copy of Long Knives Drawn). Also local and queer: Brooklyn’s own Mitten is performing at this year’s CMJ as part of The Deli magazine’s showcase. The crushable emo-duo Maia Macdonald and Johanna Katcher began by exchanging songs via e-mail, and now perform infectious electric pop, as seen on their latest EP, See You Bye.
Other queer acts that you can catch are CMJ include An Horse, and Sarah Jaffe (not to be confused with Sara-withou-an-h Jaffe of cult favorite Erase Errata). Plus, Titus Andronicus, who counts the multi-talented Amy Klein among them, will be performing their much acclaimed indie rock. (Fans of fresh music writing should check out Klein’s tumblr.)
And queens of the throne age will be tearing things up at the Tom Tom magazine Showcase, the queer-friendly female drummer mag (who, let it be known, also throws killer parties). The Tom Tom line up will include TEEN, Coasting, The Suzan, Pearl and the Beard and DJ Venus X (just to name a few).
Finally, because I had to check twice to make sure it was real: En Vogue will be headlining Friday night. Yes, that En Vogue. A rumored new song has yet to appear on the internet (or, well, anywhere), but do these ladies even need a new album to promote in order to appear at CMJ? That’d be a resounding “No, no, no.”
Are you heading to any shows at CMJ?