2007 CMJ Music Marathon - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

2007 CMJ Music Marathon

live in New York (2007)

live show

Ahh, CMJ Music Marathon: The perfect opportunity for a poor college student to get school funding for a bunch of punk shows in New York City. College Music Journal's Music Marathon 2007 was special to me for several reasons. Foremost, CMJ `07 marked my first time in New York City. Nestled up in Hostelling International, I was about two blocks from Central Park and Broadway, and a subway skip from some of the best venues in Manhattan. Furthermore, the week-long festivities would eventually take me to performances of some of my favorite bands, beginning with co-headliners Lifetime and Bouncing Souls, to Moros Eros and the Forecast, American Steel, the Falcon, and the Lawrence Arms, and an acoustic showcase of the New Amsterdams and 1/2 of Saves the Day.


Though none of my friends were interested in seeing the Jersey darlings Bouncing Souls and Lifetime, I was fortunate enough to run across a girl in the Detroit airport who was also headed to CMJ and gung-ho about catching the Souls (hi Annie!). This made it a little easier venturing across the city to Webster Hall on the first night.

The Low Budgets were first on the bill, sporting a keyboard front and center and Joe Jack Talcum's tongue-in-cheek humor. The guitarist seemed to have problems with his amp, but the set was delivered in fine fashion, as the band's fun, fast, and witty music helped waiting for the headliners a treat.

Set list (all set lists are in no particular order, with just the songs I remember):

  • 50 Cents
  • Leave Us a Loan
  • Sweet Tooth
  • I Wipe My Ass with the World
  • Fat Cop
Shortly following was Modern Life Is War, who actually set up in less time than the schedule had allotted, and had to wait around ten minutes to keep with the venue's timetable. Having lived about 45 minutes away from MLIW's hometown of Marshalltown, IA for the last 21 years, I was amazed at the following this small-town band had in the cultural hub of the world. That's not to say I was surprised though, as the band puts on one of the most intense shows in punk, and singer Jeff Eaton may have the best hardcore voice since Lou Koller started singing in Sick of it All.

Set list (same rule applies):
  • Marshalltown
  • Stagger Lee
  • D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S.
  • Fuck the Sex Pistols
  • Midnight in America
Despite Lifetime's celebrated years launched from the swamps of Jersey, there were surprisingly a fair amount of those in attendance who hadn't heard the band's music. However, everyone seemed to enjoy Lifetime as they rocked through a set of fan favorites, old and new. Lead vocalist Ari Katz kept the crowd in motion, packing them in close for sing-alongs, while guitarist Dan Yemin made some humorous remarks in support of positive hardcore after a kid in the front row who lost his shoe was reunited with the other half of his pair as it inexplicably came flying down from the balcony.

Set list (rule applies):
  • Turnpike Gates
  • 25 Cent Giraffes
  • Airport Monday Morning
  • Starsixtynine
  • Haircuts and T-Shirts
  • Northbound Breakdown
  • The Boy's No Good
  • Just a Quiet Evening
  • Daneurysm
  • Young, Loud, and Scotty
Any time the Bouncing Souls play, you know there's going to be plenty of dancing and group sing-alongs. When playing in their the second home, NYC, New Jersey's Bouncing Souls inspire a cult-like response. The set list spanned their entire career, featuring music from Maniacal Laughter through The Gold Record, even pulling out rarities like "Moon Over Asbury." The only bad part of the set was that for some reason, many of those in the pit seemed to think the Bouncing Souls' music was suitable for hardcore dancing, so everyone else had to put up with a barrage of floorpunching, windmills, and picking up change. Personally, I can look past that since one gentleman in the pit located my cell phone on the floor after it had been flung out during "The Gold Song." For the encore, the Gold Record canvas backdrop was lowered, and a screen of incandescent stars was raised, which had a wonderful effect for "Night on Earth."

Set list (rule applies):
  • Hopeless Romantic
  • That Song
  • Sing Along Forever
  • Kid
  • Midnight Mile
  • Moon Over Asbury
  • Lean on Sheena
  • East Coast, Fuck You
  • The Freaks, Nerds, and Romantics
  • The Gold Song
  • Gone
  • Argyle
  • True Believers
  • The Ballad of Johnny X
  • Night on Earth


Wednesday night I showed up in the middle of a Victory Records showcase to catch one of my favorite new post-punk acts, Moros Eros, as well as the Forecast, in the middle of a bunch of screamo and post-hardcore bands (i.e. acts like Driver Side Impact, Endwell, and Farewell to Freeway). I cannot stress enough how impressive Moros Eros is, from their songwriting abilities and implementation of absolutely crazy arrangements and chords I've never even seen before to their tight live show. The Forecast were good as usual, but I was still in awe following Moros Eros, who played a couple songs off their upcoming LP that sounded stellar.

Set list for Moros Eros:
  • Today Is the Day
  • On My Side
  • Make Me an Angel
  • Lows and Highs
  • Insane and Speechless
  • Madness Seems So Normal

Friday night was the obvious highlight of CMJ: The Falcon, American Steel, and the Lawrence Arms…on a boat cruise through the East River. Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. I got some great photos of the Falcon and the Lawrence Arms (including a video of them playing "Boatless Booze Cruise"), but tragically, they are now gone forever as my camera must have fallen out of my pocket somewhere between the hostel and LaGuardia (that's a Silver Fuji Finepix digital with Rayovac batteries, lost Oct 21st -- $80 reward, PM me on Last.fm if you found it). Midway through their set, the Falcon explained that there are four rules for covering a song: 1) It has to be at least five years old; 2) It can't be in the same genre of music; 3) it has to be from a band that doesn't play it anymore; and 4) Most European bands suck. From there, they ripped into Millencolin's "Ray," which had the whole audience singing along. I had to skip being in the audience for American Steel so I could take photos of the Statue of Liberty and all that shit on the camera that I would eventually lose…but they sounded great despite someone on deck's comment that they "sounded exactly like [the Falcon]" [Why would you go to a show if you were born without ears? - Ed.]. The Lawrence Arms put on a great show, making the audience laugh with banter like, "Thanks for sticking around" and playing fan favorites that included two Broadways songs.

Set list (probably incomplete?):
  • On with the Show
  • A Toast
  • The Devil's Takin' Names
  • Kitchen Floor
  • The Ramblin' Boys of Pleasure
  • Boatless Booze Cruise Part 1
  • Recovering the Opposable Thumb
  • Chapter 13: The Hero Appears
  • 15 Minutes
  • Brick Wall Views
  • Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God

Saturday night at the Knitting Factory, post-emo was the name of the game though the distinct styles varied significantly. The Color Fred (featuring Fred Mascherino of Taking Back Sunday) was surprisingly enjoyable despite the terrible name. The band ripped through a set of upbeat pop-punk rock á la Blackpool Lights or Ultimate Fakebook, only slowing for one mandatory boring acoustic song. The New Amsterdams followed, with a "special guest" in the form of Matt Pryor's three-year old son Elliot on the tambourines. Though he spent most of the time entertained by the flashing blue lights on stage, Elliot was a fun addition to the show that featured the New Amsterdams playing songs from throughout their six LPs in seven years. Though I had to leave early during Saves the Day's set, I did stay long enough to see Chris Conley's Kurt Cobain hairstyle and hear some oldies like "Rocks Tonic Juice Magic" and a couple from their very early releases.

All in all, the week of CMJ was a blast. Though there wasn't as many punk shows as there could have been, it was a great chance to spend time in one of the world's most cultured cities and for anyone that has the opportunity, I wholeheartedly recommend attending.