Over the Weekend: CMJ Music Marathon in NYC

College Music Marathon
October 20-25, 2009
75+ Venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan
Better than:
Fighting swarms of tourists to see the Statue of Liberty.

This year's CMJ (College Music Journal) Music Marathon offered more music than any avid concert goer  could even attempt to comprehend with 1,300+ bands playing at more than seventy-five venues across New York City. The experience proved to be completely overwhelming and provided more shows than any human could attempt to cover adequately. So, in the aftermath of running from venue to venue, here are a few of the festival's standout acts. Free Energy - This pop rock outfit exuded a rare kind of intensely intimate and playful energy not often found in a band that looks barely old enough to vote. The songs are just the  good plain fun type worthy of singing, dancing and drinking with friends preferably while wearing a sweat band and tall socks.
Hey Champ - Catchier than the swine flu, Hey Champ's synth-drenched  songs are like blue Pop Rocks for your ears, really sweet with a little kick. An obivous crowd-favorite, this Chicago-based trio closed out their set with a soaring encore, something nearly unheard of in the middle of a showcase.
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers - If Brody Dalle and Janis Joplin threw down in a harmonium store where a rock band was practicing, the result would be Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers. Goofy name aside, this band seriously rocks. Shilpa Ray is absolutelycaptivating as she shrieks and growls between flaunting her sprawling vocal range all the while working the harmonium like an old pro.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I'm drawn to bands with quirky names hence, catching Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers. Random Details: Crash Mansion (where Hey Champ played) was recently featured in the movie "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist." By the way: Denver bands represented exceptionally well at this year's CMJ showcase.

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