Bring on the Chodes

You'll fill this board in like 30 seconds.

This will be my first CMJ, as it happens, and I am quite excited as such, given that trusted friends and associates have assured me that it’s gonna suck. Per this fest’s constituency, they use harsh, inflexible terms like "douchebag" and "chode." They (my friends, not the chodes) sketch a horrifying tableau: an unrelenting torrent of no-name bands, 80 percent of whom will be broken up by Christmas. Irritated bouncers who regard press badges with hoots of derision and robust punches to the face. An industry circle-jerk of backslapping, nominally connected industry blowhards lording over bullshit "VIP areas." Overall it sounds like a smaller, colder SXSW with far more complex transportation issues and no free BBQ to soften the blow.


Thus is the cynical view, and I will try my best to avoid falling completely prey to it, though I cannot promise you I won't indulge in a game of Hipster Bingo. (See above, swiped from here.) Sociologically this could be fascinating: a cross between those now seemingly mythic A&R "showcase" gigs (usually held in L.A., and wherein desperate, nascent bands play for 10-15 arms-folded stuffed suits at 3:30 in the afternoon) and the more current but equally mythic Every Single Person in the Audience Is a Fucking MP3 Blogger debacles I've read so much about on, uh, Stereogum.

I dive into the fray fully expecting to be pleasantly surprised. Ideally my personal experience herein will mingle completely unknown crapshoots wherein I discover the Next Big Thing (I will now point my finger at a random name in L Magazine's very helpful pocket guide… uh, Sucka Brown!) and a few cred-enhancing sets from established big-shots (the Knife are gonna scare the shit outta me tomorrow, and I scored a choice guest list spot for that Shins hoedown Thursday because I am, in point of fact, a backslapping, nominally connected industry blowhard.) As for this fine Tuesday eve, I will make but one humble suggestion: Pianos on the Lower East Side has imported a buncha California bands tonight, climaxing at 11 p.m. with Irving, a pack of quirky, Atari-addled indie-pop bros who can inspire joyous dancing without the benefit of irony or wanton cowbell-humping. Before them, behold San Francisco's Birdmonster, a bit scrappier and more frantic, but still quite tuneful once you've found a portly industry blowhard to hide behind. Request the tune about the Ice Age, and refer to this splendid SF Weekly profile by dear friend and Voice contributor Garrett Kamps. See if you can spot the critic-y phrase he now regrets. And of course, keep an eye out for the white-boy afro.

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