All this week, aspiring rock stars, rappers, DJs and even a folksinger or two have fanned out across Manhattan and Brooklyn for the 33rd annual CMJ Music Marathon. But today New York City's week-long festival will have a pronounced Texas twang.
Lone Star acts, almost two dozen of them, will overrun one venue in particular, a three-level nightclub on the Lower East Side called The Delancey. Dubbed the "Texas Takeover," it's an official showcase and everything, open to all CMJ badgeholders. Representing Houston are a number of acts our readers ought to recognize, among them BLSHS, Featherface, Catch Fever, Ravin' Symone (aka DJ Dave Wrangler), -Us, iPod Ammo, Wrestlers and the Suffers, who close out the whole mess at 10:30 p.m.
This glut of Texas talent, especially all at the same show, did not always have such a big presence at the Marathon, which predates SXSW by several years. The Takeover -- which has now taken on sponsors including the Texas Music Office, Deep Eddy Vodka and Visit Houston -- is a coordinated effort between Houston promoter/manager Mark C. Austin and Anthony Erickson of Austin's Eye In the Sky Collective.
"[We] were both trying to figure out how to get bands that we worked with into CMJ officially and how to make sure they got good show opportunities during the festival," Austin says via email. "So, after years of applying and being denied we decided to just to throw our own event."
That was in 2012, and the performers included Robert Ellis, the Tontons and Shakey Graves. Attendance was good, Austin says, so last year they did it again with Ishi, Wild Child and Quiet Company among the headliners. By then, they had convinced CMJ officials to sanction the event.
"All of the artists received badges and were listed in all of the guides," recalls Austin. "It was a breakthrough."
That opened the door to this year's bash, which Austin estimates has doubled the talent from 2013. (If you happen to be in NYC today, head on down - it starts at 3 p.m. local time and is free with RSVP.) Rocks Off asked a few of Houston's Texas Takeover delegation to send us their thoughts on today's diplomatic mission; we hope to have a follow-up report next week as well.
Rocks Off: Any other bands playing CMJ you're planning to see? BLSHS: We are excited to see all of our friends/fellow Texas bands at The Texas Takeover, along with Aeon Rings and Alexis (both label mates of ours from Synth Records), Mister Lies, Cathedrals, Little Daylight, Foster The People, Oh Land, and Blue Hawaii...to name a few!! We are just excited to discover new music, so we are excited to see any/all bands at CMJ!
Adam Castaneda, The Suffers: There are a lot of groups on the lineup that I've heard mentioned on social media but never actually heard. Events like this are the perfect place to find new bands just on the verge of becoming nationally known.
Catch Fever: We look forward to seeing the other acts on the Texas Takeover. We're going to try to catch Cold War Kids and possibly Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame.
Avery Davis, -Us: Besides checking out all of my Texas buddies at the show, I really want to catch Saint Pepsi, RAC and Cold War Kids.
Featherface: We really love Pageantry (Denton), Holiday, Walker Lukens, and Native America (New Orleans).
Kam Franklin, The Suffers: We are looking forward to seeing Denetia and Sene, Walker Lukens, Wrestlers, and Wild Cub.
iPod Ammo: The Suffers, Emily Wolfe, Pompeii, Wrestlers and definitely Featherface. I'm sure the Ton Tons as well. Honestly tho, I have yet to take the time to check for anyone else other than these fine fellow Texas artists.
Besides playing the Takeover, what else do you want to see or do while you're up there? BLSHS: We want to eat some good New York pizza, and explore the city. We want to see as much of the city as possible, and enjoy hanging out as a band on our first out-of-state endeavor. This is really exciting for us!
Castaneda: The new Joe Strummer mural/memorial. I saw the original shortly after it went up but haven't seen the new one. Several members of the Suffers are huge Clash nerds.
Catch Fever: We've already seen Times Square. We're going to try to make it to Central Park and the Empire State Building. We're seeing a friend perform in Brooklyn [Wednesday] evening so that will be fun!
Davis: I definitely need to do a few of the mandatory tourist things and I wanna try to hit up either The Dead Rabbit or Employees Only for cocktails. My mom also recently moved up here, so she's definitely gonna be hanging with me.
Franklin: We plan on seeing and eating as many bagels as possible.
Featherface: This is our first time in NYC, so we need to see virtually everything. Empire State Building. The Improv. Central Park. Random alleyways, Pizza places, wherever they filmed Midnight Cowboy. Everything.
iPod Ammo: Eat like a crazy vegan.
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Any favorite spots in the NYC area you'd like to visit again, or go for the first time? Will you even have time for any sight-seeing? BLSHS: This is my [Michelle] first time to NYC, but Rick [Carruth] and Chris [Gore] have been before. We will have some time to sight-see on Friday and some on Saturday morning before we head out. We are hoping to take in as much of the city as possible. One thing that I want to see are the front steps of the house that was portrayed as Carrie Bradshaw's apartment in Sex and the City. I am a big fan of the show and would totally geek out over this :)
Castaneda: I promised my girlfriend I would bring her back a NYC hot dog. We'll see how it goes!
Catch Fever: We're all new to the NYC area so we're going to try take in as many sights as possible. Italian food from little Italy is high up on that list.
Davis: I honestly won't have much time for sightseeing. I just want to spend any free time that I have exploring parts of this rad city that I haven't seen before.
Franklin: We want to try and stop by the Brooklyn Lager Brewery before we get out of here. We have some pretty long press days, but we're definitely going to try and squeeze that trip in if we can.
Featherface: We have two days off at the end of CMJ so we're hoping to have a real NYC experience. A real experience on a nonexistent budget, of course.
The complete Texas Takeover schedule is below. Best of luck to everyone going.
The Suffers (Houston) 10:30-11 p.m. Emily Wolfe (Austin) 10:20-10:50 p.m. Walker Lukens Music (Austin) 9:45-10:15 p.m. The Please Please Me (Austin) 9:35-10:05 p.m. Holiday Mountain (Austin) 9-9:30 p.m. Featherface (Houston) 8:50-9:20 p.m. East Cameron Folkcore (Austin) 8:15-8:45 p.m. Wrestlers (DJ Set) (Houston) 8:05-8:35 p.m. FLAVOR RAID (Austin) 7:30-8 p.m. Ravin' Symone (Houston) 7:10-7:40 p.m. Pompeii (Austin) 6:45-7:15 p.m. Night Drive (Austin) 6:25- 6:55 p.m. Catch Fever (Houston) 6-6:30 p.m. Us. (DJ Set) (Houston) 5:40-6:10 p.m. BLSHS (Houston) 5:15-5:45 p.m. Ammo De La Ipods (Houston) 4:55-5:25 p.m. Somebody's Darling (Dallas) 4:30-5 p.m. Sphynx (Austin) 4:10-4:40 p.m. K. Phillips & The Concho Pearls 3:45-4:15 p.m. Daniel Thomas Phipps (Austin) 3:25-3:55 p.m. Pageantry (Denton) 3-3:30 p.m.
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