From October 15th to the 19th, the much anticipated 33rd Annual CMJ Music Marathon kicked off in NYC. An estimated 1,400 artists participated in over 80 different venues throughout Lower Manhattan and over the East River into Williamsburg. There was so much to see in such little time.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, out of Montreal was first on the list. Their music has been described simultaneously as both dark and cheerful, with mixtures of Asian pop, progressive pop and heavy metal. Quoted by Pitchfork: “Volcanic prog-rock colored with equal parts post-punk urgency, stoner-metal heft, and psychedelic pop whimsey.”

These guys are truly a breed of their own. Their new album, UZU, releases on October 29th.

I was lucky enough to make it to one of their shows at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on the 17th of October. As I squeezed my way to the front of the venue for photos, the first thing I noticed was the hauntingly beautiful vocals and uniquely painted KISS-esque masks of each member. Within seconds, the music would somehow seamlessly shift from the dreamy rhythm of vocals and keyboard into a heavy metal drumbeat.

The crowd, consisting mostly of beards and tattoos, seemed to find it hard to simultaneously nod their heads while carefully clutching their PBR tallboys. All in all, of the many experienced metal head friends I joined during the concert, few have seen a better live metal show.

The following day I got to experience a uniquely amazing set at the St. Vitus venue, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Pelican, based out of Chicago, set themselves apart from the rest of the show, most recognizably by their potent yet purely instrumental post-metal performance.

Next, I headed to Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl to see We Are Scientists, an OG Indie rock band that formed in the West Coast, making their way to New York in 2001.

Their newest EP Business Casual was just released this month. You can download it on their website at

Blue Sky Black Death…or BSBD, is a duo based out of San Francisco. Their music cannot simply be placed in a single category, but for now, we’ll give them an “instrumental hip-hop” genre.

The Blue Sky Black Death venue was completely pitch black, and although the effects were nicely done it was challenging to take photos there.

I spent the last day of CMJ at the Williamsburg Music Hall, where Father John Misty played his sold out acoustic show. He was constantly interacting with the audience. Everyone seemed to enjoy his dry humor and sarcastic attitude throughout the show.

Some of the shows that I wanted to see ended up conflicting with one another, so I missed out on a couple of shows I originally planned on covering but all in all it was a great time. We’ll see you next year for the 34th CMJ Music Marathon. 

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