CMJ Is Way More Fun When You're Badgeless, Broke, and Young
Photos: Laura June Kirsch
It's that time of the year again: South By Southwest's mean, jealous sister to the North, CMJ, is upon us. There's little sunshine, no margaritas, no tacos and yet, the thing can be a blast! Musicians and writers and industry folk from all over the planet are in NYC for under a week, giving Austin's live music reputation a run for its money.
Let's not forget that the CM part of the equation stands for College Music and yet, for young brilliant minds under the age of 21, navigating the isle of Manhattan and whatnot can seem daunting. In truth, being young and stoked on new music is the best thing in the world when you have some guidance. Here's what to know and where to go.
See also: How To Maximize Your CMJ Experience
1) YOU DON'T NEED A BADGE. Like most large festival conferences, you can totally see the best bands and go to the best parties without shelling out a couple hundreds. Know where to look! Our own Concert Calendar is a great place to start, and aggregators like Oh My Rockness are pros at listing age regulations and whatnot. If you're unsure, go to the venue's website or call/tweet them! No harm in being engaged.
2) Understand that not having a badge means you need to show up on time. That is, if you're attending official / buzzy showcases. Everyone and their mother knows that the Pitchfork showcase on Friday is unofficial and at an all-ages venue, but that doesn't mean you should show up right before your favorite act. You need to be timely. This is also the best way to get turned on to something you never thought you would: sitting through unidentifiable opening acts can actually be rewarding!
2.) ALCOHOL: We're not condoning underage drinking here (wink wink), but If you're gonna drink, do so from the comfort of your own home (or hotel room, etc.) While there may be open bars as far as the eye can see, don't risk getting kicked out or banned from a venue, especially if you live around here. It's not worth it.
3.) Have your priorities in line. Especially if your underage and broke, the band you might want to see the most could be playing 18,000 times, but only once at an all ages space for seven dollars. Nothing is worse than missing something or someone you really care about.
4.) Let's be totally honest, unofficial showcases are often the best because if you wanna really discover new music, you know the best place is from the underground. If you can't get into shitty 21+ clubs you're often inspired to throw your own events and what not (exclusivity promotes community), which makes the environment of DIY spaces more inclusive and fun. Don't fret if, like, Converse isn't sponsoring all the events you attend.
Here are some all ages and cheap show recommendations (NOTE: all are in the Williamsburg/Bushwick areas of Brooklyn, mostly because these areas are able to host all ages DIY spaces more so than Manhattan.) All easily accessible via the L train and all, like, way more fun than you'd have at a bar on the Lower East Side or whatever: