CMJ Diary Day 1: New Friends, New Music, and Getting Lost in Brooklyn

Photography by Amanda Silberling

CMJ Music Marathon is a music lover’s fantasy and worst nightmare. Almost a thousand emerging artists take over Brooklyn and lower Manhattan with incredible showcases raging on day and night, but it’s impossible to see everything, no matter how hard you try. As the oh-so-wise Jennifer Logue advised me: music festivals are best experienced in the moment. You can try to plan a strict schedule (believe me, I did – I have the color-coded Excel spreadsheets to prove it), but your day won’t go according to plan and in that lies the magic of CMJ.

IMG_0380Amanda Silberling and Jennifer Logue at CMJ Music Marathon

After Jenn (Rock On Philly founder), Will (keyboardist), and I (this writer) stuffed ourselves with a locally-grown dinner at Chelsea Market, we arrived at our first destination of the evening: the CMJ Press Mixer. As music journalists, we shine the spotlight on performers but, at the press mixer, the writers, photographers, PR agents, and managers got to be the stars. The Gallery at the Dream Downtown hotel was transformed into a music industry extravaganza, complete with gourmet appetizers (we regretted eating dinner beforehand), guest speakers, and a sneak peek at the upcoming HBO show Vinyl.


After I met a group of fantastic NYC-based writers, photographers, and Webster Hall employees, I caught up with Jenn, who had acquainted herself with Valise, a rock band from Dallas, Texas. Jenn even met her twin, an energetic, world-traveler – also named Jen (one N) with black hair, bangs, and red lipstick – who will tour us through the Brooklyn musical world on our night adventures to come. Valise invited us on their tour van to head down to The Living Room in Brooklyn for the Music is GREAT Britain Showcase. As Rock On Philly’s official millennial, I taught Jenn and Casey from Valise how to use Snapchat so that we could document our adventure. After struggling to find a place to park Valise’s large tour van, we climbed out onto Grand Street ready to hear Jake Isaac, a singer-songwriter from London, melt the crowd’s hearts. But we didn’t hear music anywhere, and the only lights on the street came from the ambulances that rushed past us. Then, Jenn’s twin pointed out our error- we went to the wrong Living Room. But nothing was going to stop us from checking out the GREAT Britain showcase, so we did the only logical thing: we walked across Brooklyn to the correct Living Room.


Jenn “double N,” Jen “single N,” Will, the guys from Valise, and I walked towards Metropolitan Avenue, I couldn’t help but whip out my camera to take some street photos. My heart may be in Philly, but Brooklyn didn’t fail to captivate me.


Finally, we reached The Living Room just in time to watch Jake Isaac walk into the center of the crowd for an intimate acoustic song.

rsz_img_1863Jake Issac performs at The Living Room, New York City

Jen “single N” got us excited to see SYKES, an alt pop band from London. When I told Jen about how much I love mid-2000s British indie rock, like Arctic Monkeys and the Libertines, she said, casually, “Yeah, I know Carl Barat – I met him at a New Years party.” If I hadn’t already understood just how many interesting people traveled to New York this week, Jen’s anecdotes sealed the deal.

rsz_img_1879SYKES perform at The Living Room, New York City

After the GREAT Britain showcase, the overzealous fan in me emerged – how could I only go to one show tonight? After listening to Frankie Cosmos’s Zentropy all summer, how could I miss her headlining set at Baby’s All Right, a popular Brooklyn club that I’ve heard so much about? My phone had already run out of battery but, luckily, I thought ahead and wrote down the address of Baby’s All Right, and I arrived just in time to see the end of Mega Bog‘s set, an eclectic mix of jazz and indie pop.

rsz_img_1909Mega Bog perform at Baby’s All Right, New York City

I ran into Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos outside the venue, and something possessed me to approach her as though I were her old friend. We shared small talk about how I’ve been to her past few shows in Philly, and how I was glad that I came over to Baby’s in time for her set. I’m not normally someone who just approaches musicians and talks to them (unless if I’m doing an interview) but, during Frankie Cosmos’s set, I realized that I felt comfortable with her because of how honest and sincere her music is. I thought of the opening song on Zentropy, “School,” with the lyric “High school made me cry/I am shy to begin with/This is the diagnosis,” and how many people – including me – felt the same way growing up. Artists like Frankie Cosmos create a place where the unpopular kid is celebrated and accepted, from Kline’s pajama pants on stage to the effortless way she can make a packed club at a major music event feel like a small house show.

img_1951Frankie Cosmos performs at Baby’s All Right, New York City

Between my connection to Frankie Cosmos’s music and the surreal feeling of being a young journalist hopping from show to show in Brooklyn at CMJ, I walked out of Baby’s All Right feeling completely content with the present moment. Jenn was right all along. I don’t want to plan every second of my CMJ experience – I want to wander into venues I’ve never heard of, meet people who party with The Libertines, and discover the next big bands when I least expect it. And, of course, at the end of the day, I’ll come home and write about it.

See all the photos from Day 1 below! Are you at CMJ right now?  Tell us what you’re doing in the comments below!

For our CMJ Diary Day 2, click here.

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  1. Lauren Silvestri

    October 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Wow I am so jealous you guys are there! I would have loved to have seen the British showcase, the UK is a such an amazing source of music.

  2. Pingback: CMJ Diary Day 2: Sleep Deprivation, Dollar Pizza, and Bonding - Rock On Philly

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