last weekend was the second annual CMJ fest in cleveland. i have mixed reviews of this years CMJ and for the most part it was pretty lame, more so than last year. before i get to my beef with CMJ i'ld like to point out a big improvement in this years event compared with last years.
having the "festival village" take place on the grounds of the rock hall on the lake instead of in a parking lot that has no shade in the flats was by far the biggest improvement. and getting rid of the 10 dollar a day charge to "enter" the village was also wise, those seven people that paid 10 bucks last year love that change as well.
the grounds around the rock hall had ample shade to protect people from the sun and you didn't have that sun radiating off the hot asphalt as was the case last year.
the security and other staff around the village were friendly and not heavy handed which is also a good thing.
my problems with the CMJ in cleveland event are:
why can't the CMJ folks bring in a better lineup of bands? it was quite apparent that this years event worked around what the local clubs had already scheduled for this weekend. or perhaps local clubs didn't have anything scheduled and CMJ brought in bands that make frequent appearances to cleveland (the dirtbombs, detroit cobras, gil mantera, etc.), whatever was the case there was really very little to get excited about for people who look forward to new bands or bands that have not played here in a while.
last years CMJ brought to town "the pixies" (2 shows), "the futureheads", "spoon", "calexico", "clientele" to name a few and those bands were either making their first trip to cleveland or have not played here in a while.
i remember thinking last year that the "featured" bands were a lil thin but didn't say much about it, after all it was there first festival in cleveland and next year they would have something to work off of.
what they worked off of was taking one foot forward with the "village" relocation but they took a couple steps back without bringing in bands that club goers could look forward to.
so my highlights of my very abbreviated CMJ doings was checking out "apollo sunshine" on friday afternoon in the sun followed by locals "roue". both of these bands lived up to expectations and i had a very enjoyable afternoon. on saturday there was only one band i wanted to see and it was "nebula" who was playing at "the village" at 5pm. i turned off a very enjoyable soccer match between the US & italy that was tied early in the second half then jumped on my bike and raced downtown in the 90 degree sunny heat only to hear from this overweight guy in a pretty awful band that "nebula" won't be playing because of van problems they encountered on the freeway. this was no fault of the organizers but i was pissed (mainly because i sweated getting down there only to be disappointed).
so if you go to maybe just a couple shows a year and don't know the difference between a detroit cobra and a dirtbomb or a machine go boom from a roue then you were probably delighted with this fest but for anyone familiar with the local/regional/international music-scene you probably came away disappointed, for each their own..
the 2006 CMJ shots are here
.BTW: this weekend was also the weekend of "72 hours of zombie proof recording" not a open event but it featured MANY local artists recording with the folks from "land of buried treasure" who spent the weekend recording straight through without sleep. i spent the first night there with only a hour and a half of sleep and about a dozen sat and sunday. another reason that i didn't have desire for CMJ06, i'll have more details of the recording sessions in my next blog entry.