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all words & photos: Alyssa Lesser

CMJ.  It’s that time of year where music fans catch a glimpse of the best up-and-coming indie rock acts of the next year.  Ludlow becomes as crowded as Times Square, and you run into everyone you knew, know, and ever wanted to know .  This year, the once great festival paled gruesomely in comparison to the CMJs of years past.  What happened to the CMJ we once knew and loved so deeply?

Many of the more promising bands that have arisen over the last few months were absent from lineups.  Seemingly half-assed showcases were slapped together by PR and record companies (…can someone please explain to me what the deal is with Neon Indian, already?!) that DID present a slew of promising acts, but were so underwhelming as a whole that they discouraged people from attending altogether.  Parties were sparse and sponsorship was meager.  Where was all the hype we had come to expect from years past?  Where were all the graciously essential open bars at swanky hotels and not-so-secret warehouse ragers?

I spoke with some bands who had been touring during October who just decided to skip the festival altogether and keep touring.  Others just didn’t give a shit.  Mostly, many of the patron saints of the New York music scene were too bored with this year’s paltry festival to lend their time.

I can’t decide whether this year’s CMJ was a comment on the insufficient creativity of this generation of musical acts, or whether it was just a product of poor planning.  There are some great bands out there at the moment, and it’s frustrating to see them flounder around amidst a shoddy attempt at creating an exciting scene.  I miss the days where CMJ was a wholly electrifying opportunity to get excited about music again.  If the festival is to continue the way it once did, it needs to pick up its game.

I leave you with some photos I took during the festival of Ava Luna, who did manage to excite me and many others.  If anyone else has anything to say about the festival this year, do weigh in…

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