Well-known critics and users of terminology such as 'rapegaze' Pitchfork have announced #Offline
, a three-day festival in New York City that doubles as having some pretty decent music and being a giant middle-finger to the CMJ Music Marathon. The festival coincides with the three biggest days of CMJ, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and the popular opinion is that Pitchfork is trying to make a statement about something other than the latest glo-fi noise fad/Kings Of Leon flop.
CMJ has long been a destination, like SXSW, functioning as a milestone for bands to come of age and gain major attention. Even last year acts like The XX and Mumford and Sons emerged from the week-long clusterf*ck as front-runners for cheers and deals (and some for good reason)
. This year's lineup may hold a bunch of sleeper zingers, but for a major media outlet like Pitchfork to flat out ignore New York's (current) largest and most complicated new music machine is not a coincidence. It's part of a larger idea that CMJ is no longer worth partnering with, and the festival is too big for it's ever-shrinking college radio chart business to justify or sustain. But this dialog has been happening for years.
CMJ is also inundated with acts, and the quantity vs. quality will be a large part of Pitchfork's positioning. Although #Offline has quite a few acts for one venue across three days, it's nowhere near the 1,200 mark CMJ boasts on its website. But by taking only 40 or so of those bands, specific bands with good buzz, slapping a different name on it, and attaching a trendy label's anniversary (Fool's Gold), Pitchfork can and will effectively draw some of the Marathon's traffic. People rolling into New York who passed on the ludicrously priced badges (and never saw this deal
) will gladly pay thirty bucks to see almost every band they came to see in one place. It's a "f*ck you", but it's kind of a brilliant one.
CMJ has always been a good idea, but the festival has not generated the type of buzz and press it used to, and people are starting to call them out on it. Pitchfork wants to put another nail in that coffin, and they have some big nails (you know Pitchfork, always be hammering). I suspect this is the first of many CMJ ousting moves by major players. Soon, New York may have to go a few years without a major week-long festival that everyone gets behind.
The idea of the Music Marathon, or its past successes, can't be put to bed just yet. But in a city where DIY meets MSG, and every week boasts upwards of 25+ shows that are "worth it" and "buzzy", do we really need CMJ anymore?
The answer might cost $10, but the answer also might be FREE and open to all at The Bowery Electric
on Saturday, 10/23 from 2-8, and it just might include drink specials and free food. -joe puglisi