SXSW's biggest competition for the title of Biggest Binge of a Music Festival comes this week in the form of New York's CMJ Music Marathon. In lots of ways, the events are similar: First that they are clearly catered to those within the music industry in one way or another as opposed to, you know, actual music fans. But also in that their lineups are so enormous, and their reputations so prominent, that they contain the past, present and future of independent music. Whoever is next year's Haim, they played at SXSW in March and they'll play CMJ this week, I can almost promise you that.
North Texas is always represented at both -- there are too many bands playing and this is too big a metropolitan area for them not to converge. Of course, proximity matters: I don't know how many area bands played in Austin at this year's SXSW, but it was a lot. There were entire Dallas stages.
Far fewer will make the application cut and be willing or able to commit to a trip to New York City. I count four acts from this area on the official bill this year. As a disclaimer, it could be more -- despite the fact that the Marathon starts today, the web site says its lineup listing is incomplete. Regardless, there are a few bands you might expect to see at a festival like CMJ, because they've been featured in the kinds of publications that college radio station program directors read or because they've spent large chunks of the year touring. Bands like True Widow, Pinkish Black, Mind Spiders or Dirt Nap label mates Bad Sports come to mind. Or maybe more perennial area favorites like Midlake or Sarah Jaffe. But nope. None of those bands are in New York this week. Instead, our representatives are The Breakfast Machine, Ishi, The Phuss and Son of Stan.
They're all excellent bands (all nominated for Dallas Observer Music Awards, in fact). But they are somewhat odd representatives of the current state of music in North Texas, especially as it relates to the College Music Journal.
Which isn't to say that they don't deserve to represent North Texas; of course they do. It's just more proof that supposed bellwethers like SXSW or CMJ or Pitchfork or Spin or whatever else contain no particular consensus. Find what you like, however you like to find it, and the rest is noise.
And if you do happen to be in New York this week, get yourself a taste of home. Here's a start:
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The Breakfast Machine
Son of Stan