For a New Yorker such as myself who is deeply into modern music and the direction its headed, there simply is no time greater in the year then CMJ. Last year was my first taste of the five day long Music/Film festival and despite photographing musicians for a full year prior to the festival, never have I experienced such respect, access, and simple gratefulness from musicians for coming out and seeing them perform. What also made this an exciting time was interacting with fellow music fans from all over the world! 2010’s CMJ has ended and though it is sad to imagine such an amazing event being over I was lucky to capture some amazing moments during the concerts of the festival.
For me the festival started on Tuesday (the 19th) where I headed to Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not only did I get to photograph a Kevin Devine headlining gig (who in my opinion is one of the most talented musicians you can find) but since it was CMJ the support list was varied and filled with musicians I’ve never heard of. This gave me the privilege to photograph artists such as:
Oh Land. A Danish electro/pop duo.
Death On Two Wheels. A Georgian hard rock outfit which wears confidence on their sleeves.
River City Extension. An orchestral indie band who make sure their listeners are fully engulfed into their tunes.
Miniature Tigers. Festival favorites who stressed the importance of singing along to their songs.
and of course our hometown favorite, Kevin Devine.
The following day featured me and my girlfriend venturing to Madison Square Garden for a highly anticipated show. Indie heroes Phoenix were to grace the stage to celebrate their widely received album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. To everyones surprise old friends of theirs took the stage with them to everyones delight.
WAVVES kept everyones attention afloat with their infectious garage energy.
Dirty Projectors kept the momentum up with an Arcade Fire esque stage presence.
Phoenix and Daft Punk took the entire arena by surprise!
The excitement of CMJ just ran more rampant within me as a band I have been in love with all year finally made their way to the city. Two Door Cinema Club is the most recent export from Northern Ireland, a country which is considered a personal mecca to me in terms of music. Their Webster Hall gig totally sold out quickly and impressed everyone who attended, and I dare say even amaze also.
Grouplove redefined the word enthusiasm as they played through their set. Its always great to see a band thats truly thankful to be there.
Penguin Prison smoothed the crowd with their jazz toned vocals. Dancing was a must as this band made the stage their own.
"Holy shit New York! I can feel the fucking ground shaking from here from all your dancing!" shouted Alex Trimble as the band went into their hit single "Undercover Martyn"
The exhaustion of CMJ was beginning to seep in as I headed to my final gig of the festival. It also felt fitting having it take place in Music Hall of Williamsburg again. What kept me excited was seeing British newcomers Everything Everything. Their debut album Man Alive is certainly one of the most addictive releases of 2010 so far and highly recommended.
Mr.Johnny Flynn definitely wins the award for making the most women swoon during CMJ. His honest and well constructed songs are also a firm plus.
Chapel Club aimed to pave the way for British indie bands in New York and surprisingly enough I'd say they were successful in stirring interest.
I clearly wasn't the only concert goer who was tired from the weeks activities, but the energy and stage presence of Everything Everything made us all forget for 30 minutes how tired we were.
Blood Red Shoes filled the room with smoke and ended the night with an explosive set that no one saw coming (or at least being as wicked as it was!)
And that is my recount of CMJ 2010. This has been my second year of taking part of the festival and it truly is a privilege not only to see these acts perform but to interact with these musicians and help spread the word about them. For more photos be sure to go here to enjoy a full gallery of each show I covered.