The ultimate badgeless guide to CMJ

Yellow Ostrich at Glasslands last year; they're back and playing a free show this time. Photo via Sarah Mulligan.

Happy CMJ week! If you think those impossible-to-get Radiohead tickets at Roseland a few weeks ago were the 1 percent, the CMJ Music Marathon is the 99 percent, with its cornucopia of music of the people and for the people. Much of it is open to you for free, even if you don’t have one of those $200 all-access badges. Check below to see a list of all the free shows taking place between now and the end of the fest on Saturday. If you’ve never been, CMJ is a great way to sample some established bands like DOM and Cloud Nothings, while discovering new up-and-comers, like Yellow Ostrich and Hollerado (if you can survive the hordes of eager college music journalists, that is). Plus, check out Caroline Shadood’s tips on how to maximize your swag earnings, networking and extra freebie potential of the goings on without getting lost in the city.


Tuesday, October 18th

(le) poisson rouge (158 Bleecker Street) helps New Zealand try to get out of Australia’s shadow by hosting a small army of bands from the tiny island nation. The New Zealand at CMJ Showcase features Princess Chelsea, Andrew Keoghan and the timely-named Cairo Knife Fight, among others. Admission is free with an RSVP to

The Deli Magazine hosts its showcase at The Delancey (168 Delancey Street), featuring Tiny Victories, Caged Animals and many more. Best of all, you don’t even need to RSVP.

All Things Go hosts its first ever CMJ showcase with performances by Penguin Prison, Clubfeet and friends at Dominion (428 Lafayette St.) free with an RSVP to

The Living Room (154 Ludlow St.) has free music all night long, including the Mood Indigo Showcase, as does its neighbor, Pianos (158 Ludlow St.), playing host to the Old Flame Records Showcase in the Upstairs Lounge.

If New Zealand isn’t your kettle of sheep, pop in to the loft above Public Assembly (70 N. 6th St.) to check out the view and the Underwater People’s Showcase and then head over to Brooklyn Bowl for the Live4Ever Media (RSVP here) showcase to going late with midnight VHS or BETA DJ set.


PIRATE! Island at Fontanas (LES), 21+ 12-6; featuring Hollerado (4:40pm); Nick Diamonds of Islands (3:50pm); Fairmont  (3:00pm); Army Navy  (2:10pm);  The Great Book Of John (1:20pm);  The One & Nines (12:30pm); DJ Sets by: DAMNDOGS; GoodbyemotelStreight Angular & more!

Terrorbird Media at the Cake Shop (LES), 18+, 12:30-6:00; Featuring live performances from (in order of appearance): The ImmaculatesEternal SummersGospel MusicCloud Nothings;  WidowspeakCubic ZirconiaMux MoolTeen Daze.

KXSC, KXLU, KVRX + KTRU Official CMJ 2011 College Radio Showcase, Shea Stadium (Bushwick), all ages, featuring: IDLARUnstoppable Death MachinesSluteverWild MoccasinsExtra LifeGangi; Fresh MillionsBuxtonThe Sour Notes.


Medium Rotation Mixer – CMJ’s Official College Day Afterparty, 5:30-7:30 PM, Solas, 232 E 9th St (East Village). Featuring DJ Sets by The Beets and Memoryhouse. Drink specials on beer and mojitos.


Distiller promo at the Knitting Factory (Williamsburg), 16+, featuring: Superhuman Happiness (12:15pm); FIDLAR (12:55pm ); Radiation City (1:35pm); Lightouts (2:15pm); PUJOL (2:55pm); The R’s (3:35pm); WATERS (4:20pm);  Yellow Ostrich (5:15pm);

Planetary party at Pianos; Featuring Beast Make Bomb (1:20pm);  DeStaat (2pm); Guineafoul (2:40pm); Said the Whale (3:20pm); Rah Rah (4pm); Look Mexico (4:40); The Grates (5:20); Upstairs stage: Erin Passmore (2:20pm); Now Now (3pm); Cosmo Jarvis (3:40pm); John Steel Singers (4:20pm); Mansions (5pm);

The Grates, playing free on Friday.


AAM party at the knitting factory. Doors at: 12:30pm, ends at 6pm; 18+; featuring:VacationerCasiokidMemoryhouse1, 2, 3; and Dom. Giveaways from A&M OctoneAstralwerksFrenchkiss RecordsPolyvinyl RecordsSub Pop; Free drinks and snacks from Pop Chips too!  RSVP to

The Band Mom CMJ day partyUnion Hall, 702 Union St. Park Slope, 21+, doors at 12:30pm, featuring Soft Punch [Ryan Little of Tereu Tereu] (12:45); Mighty Moon (1:30); Bright Brown (2:15); Prairie Empire (3pm); Melaena Cadiz (3:45pm); and Girls In Trouble (4:30). Featuring $3 Makers Mark all day.

Bonus tips for making the most out of CMJ without dropping a bunch of cash, via Brokelyn’s Caroline Shadood. 

Keep an eye out for swag. CMJ is sponsored by many a magazine, food/beverage company and record label. What this means is that you can easily pick up October and November issues of every single magazine you wish you subscribed to (no joke—I’ve done this); You can down several complimentary Amps or Izzes per day; and you can pick up CD samplers and download cards from many a favorite record labels (hell yes). You’ll also get enough free canvas totes to supply your entire building with groceries.

Use the powers of the Internet. Part of the fun of the CMJ Music Marathon is the city-wide scavenger hunt it turns into. What are we scavenging? Free show + open bar.  The ol’ one-two punch.  Almost all of these events are public, but you have to discover them somehow:  Stalk BrooklynVegan for updates; Follow twitter accounts of record labels (@subpop), concert venues (@knittingfactory) and music promo companies (@piratepirate). Then search Facebook events for things like “CMJ” “unofficial CMJ” “CMJ day party,” etc.  In the past, magazines like VICE and Fader have announced last minute stuff too.

Bring your business card. Even if you’re not a band photographer or a radio DJ, CMJ is a huge networking opportunity for any and all creative professionals.  From graphic designers to post production buffs, you’ll find a niche.

Look for extra freebies. Even if it’s not explicitly stated, there’s a strong possibility of freebies that extend beyond the seven bands you’re seeing at a warehouse on Morgan Ave. For example, two years ago, I was pleased with a last-minute discovery that Terrorbird hosted a one-hour open bar with free cupcakes at the Cake Shop. There’s almost always free beer, magazines, goody bags, t-shirts and records to be found at these daytime parties.

Be tactful. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Supplies are obviously limited, so do NOT throw a fit if you didn’t get that third complimentary Dogfish Head brew you were expecting. Plan to tread upon the most specific niches of college radio and prepare yourself for music nerds, mostly DJs. Loud, drunk DJs.

*As always, when it comes to free shows… doublecheck age restrictions and RSVP requirements.

Brokelyn reporters Caroline Shadood, David Colon and Tim Donnelly contributed to this report.

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