My press badges for CMJ 2014 // #PressBadge #CMJ2014 #VNDLMag // #Music #NYC // #NightRiots #LittleMay #AvidDancer #Fictionist #TheKills #SanFermin #EVEREINHARDT

My press badges for CMJ 2014

Last month, New York City hosted the 34th annual CMJ Music Marathon.  If you look on their website you’ll see that CMJ sees in 1,300 artists from around the world to play to over 125,000 fans in 80 different venues—nightclubs, theaters, bars, music venues and beyond—over a 5 day period in late October.  For any New Yorker who doesn’t know it’s happening you’d never know it, which is crazy considering how many bands come to town.   The temporary boost to our population and the buzz and swell, and the laminated badges the size of my face—and an extremely large number of very well dressed, very good looking, very cool looking, very bearded and very hat-heavy group—blended in like it was all nothing, just another day on the Island, like throwing a small rock in a big ocean.

It was chilly and rainy the day I drove in for the event and I needed to park.  I needed to load up all the gear I’d be traveling with during the week.  I needed to get my press badge from Judson Memorial Church, located just across the street from Washington Square Park, to make a meeting at the Hotel Rivington with Los Angeles based band, Night Riots.  They were the first of six bands (genuinely great bands) I had on my list for the week, which included The Kills (who later rescheduled), San Fermin (the same), Little May, Avid Dancer, and Fictionist.  I was a little nervous, a little tired, pumped, and just under-prepared enough to wonder if I’d regret living next week.

I parked my blue Subaru in the parking garage down the block and started loading up with (are you ready for it) my main backpack (camera equipment), my other backpack (pens, paper, makeup and misc.), my fanny pack (ipad, audio recorders and chargers), my other fanny pack (film), and my other-other fanny pack (for easily accessible necessities like wallet, subway card and phone) and finally, my overnight bag.  I did all of this in front of my car for like, 5 minutes, while 2 parking garage attendants and 3 cars waiting to park watched.  It was embarrassing. I’m 5 feet 3 inches and 110 pounds soaking wet.  Piling on all that stuff is like stacking a tower of carefully placed Jenga pieces—I headed north to the church looking like I could kill a horse if I accidentally fell sideways in a different park 50 blocks uptown.

I spotted my first badge-wielding photographer walking away from the church, then another, and then a cluster of them, badges dangling proudly around their necks.  It’s a little like high school being around that many people who are there for the same reason, I think, and I keep going.

I walked into the church and said hi to a guy making his way down the stairs as I made my way up.  “Upstairs, right?” I asked.  “Yep,” he said.

The room was pretty packed, even at that early hour, and it was decorated with CMJ banners and backdrops, buffet tables with badges and bags.  It was my first time covering CMJ and I felt like a freshman staring across the room at a sea of strangers, young and old.  I made a b-line for the buffet tables.

“Eve Reinhardt for VNDL Magazine. I should have a press badge and a photo badge, both.”

Two girls looked through a stack of white papers and pulled out two shiny laminated badges and handed them to me, along with a bag filled with CMJ event goodies.  It only took a minute or two and I made my way back down to the street, hailed a cab and said, “Hotel Rivington, please—it’s on Rivington between Ludlow and Essex. Thanks. ”

I looked out the window sideways.  I still had every bag I owned strapped to my body, so not only was getting into the cab nothing short of a miracle, getting out was far worse because I was stopped in front of the hotel and I literally had to roll out of the car in, like, ten moves.  Gravity alone pulled me down and out of the car door, slow and long like I was being birthed.  When I finally popped out and stood upright, I tried to talk to the bouncers at the door like it never happened.  They waved me in.  Eve Reinhardt: Cool. As. Ever.

The CMJ Artist & Press Lounge at the Hotel Rivington was located in the Penthouse, a “stunning triplex Penthouse” which claims to have “the best panoramic views Manhattan has to offer.” I walked through the main lobby, hit the elevator button and about five minutes later I was on my way up.

Clear eyes.  Full hearts.  Can’t lose.

So, you know the scene in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy flies around in a tornado, lands, and opens the door to Oz for the first time, and as she steps out of her black and white world she’s transported into the magical world of Oz where everything is alight in technicolor, sing-song and lollipops?  Remember the scene in Almost Famous when William Miller convinces Stillwater to let him come backstage during the concert in San Diego and he’s instantly transported into a world he’s always wanted to be in, a world where Jefferson Airplane scores his virgin ascent into a wild and wonderful sea of groupies, frontmen and guitarists with mystique?  I’m not trying to say that this is my experience going into the CMJ press lounge, exactly…but the thing is, it’s always close.  It’s in the ballpark.  That’s how it always feels to have access into music, into the whale, to peel back the curtains and look inside.   There’s always a large serving of something I can’t ever describe in my nose and bones, an experience completely and perfectly out of time, like I’m marinating in every music memory I have that still defines and haunts me.  Music is this thing.  The muse and essence of life as it should be, windows down.

CMJ if nothing else is a field of dreams.  It is apex.  Music lovers in a plane filled sky.  A creamy bus-windowed world.  A long-gone mind staring out at the ghostly figures of our childhoods and long lives, past and present, that live on in sleepless possibility, night terrors and desperate passions that feel like hot knives—you’ll die if you don’t listen, you’ll vomit if you don’t live up to your potential.

We are all victims of fear and laziness, fear and laziness.

Never give up on yourself.

As photographers and journalists we are all here capturing it and I’m a mega-nerd about this.  I keep thinking that the moment is here, in my lap, just within reach.  We are all giants here.  Giants and Kings.  Stars in the sky.  Sex.  Drugs. Rock n’ Roll.  Smiley face.

And free coffee, as it turns out.

And free wifi that didn’t work.

I walk down the hall to the triplex Penthouse and show the bouncer my badges.

Amber Crisci, a senior publicist at Big Picture Media who arranged the meeting with Night Riots recognizes me when I come in.  We’ve never met but she’s expecting me.  “Eve?”  “Amber?”  I like her right away and I’m grateful that I do.  We chat about the band, who are running late.

“They’re coming, they’re rushing over in a cab right now.”

“No problem, I’ve got time. Seriously, tell them not to rush.”

I have to pee, so I walk over to the bathroom and leave Amber and her team keeping watchful eyes on my bags that would otherwise be glued to computers and iphones.

There’s a line for the bathroom so I stand there waiting, and looking around, wondering if I should check my phone or just stand there, old-school.  Before I have time to decide a guy introduces himself.  My first thought is that he is super friendly and a little high.  We talk about Australia, his long flight to NY, weather and his girlfriend, who just so happens to be one of the girls from Little May, a band that I am interviewing later that day.  He tells me she just found out he was in New York and freaked out.  In a good way?  Bad?  I can’t remember.  He says they’re having a hard day and not to bring that up.  “Okay, I won’t.”

Just then, a girl comes in through the main entrance on the other side of the room.  She enters like a cool, fresh breeze.  She’s really pretty, I think more than once.  She has long blond hair that flows out perfectly under a big felt hat.  She’s really put thought into her outfit, and I immediately regret not putting any thought into mine (I’m wearing a little boy’s blue and black flannel from Sears, a pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and my hair is way overdue for a cut.  Damn.  I fidget and try to relax my forehead so it won’t wrinkle).  She’s floats in like a force of nature blew her out of cannon on a perfect summer’s day.  She makes her way over to the guy I’ve just met, who she knows well I gather.  She’s also Australian (of course).  She smiles.  She’s tall.  Ugh.  I wish I were that young again, I think; and I really wish I looked that good in a hat.  It suddenly reminds me of Las Vegas.  Of a Grateful Dead concert I went to when I was 13 and the rainbow dress and felt hat I wore that weekend, showered in, swam in and returned home to mother in, stinking of lies, sunblock and happiness.

It’s clear at this point that no one can figure out how to open the bathroom door.  We all laugh trying to pry our fingers into the crack of the door and push things that look like they should be pushed.  By the time I’m done peeing I’ve become an expert on said door and I instruct the newcomers still in line to “I think you have to push not pull.”

I return to the couch and post an Instagram picture of the sign that says “Free Coffee” just to kill time.

Digital recorder—check.

Tape recorder—check.

Note-pad, cameras—check.

Some questions still unfinished but not to worry…check.

I’ll improvise a bit…check.

The studio I have on Bleecker Street will be my home over the next few days.  I’ll meet all but one band there.  I cleaned up the space around 6am that same morning until I felt I’d done the very best I could do with what I had.  It was a new space with a lot of history—belonged to a political group called The Yippies for decades until we finally took it over.  It still needed a lot of love.  There would be beer bottles overflowing in the garbage and there would be road construction going on all day, the sound of punching concrete just outside making it too loud not to notice but not loud enough to ruin the interviews, I hoped, but it would be fine—it’s New York after all.  Don’t people just expect this shit?  But then there’s the broken window letting in unwanted cold.  Sigh.

A few minutes later all five members of Night Riots arrive in the press lounge and the room skips a beat.  They all look exactly like they did in interviews and music videos.  I run through their names one more time in my head before jumping in to introduce myself.

I can feel the day starting to run like a dog through my veins.  The pulse of my long and strange life mattering less and less under the umbrella of something else that matters more.

Before we all make the unanimous decision to squeeze into the elevator, a few of the guys look at me and offer to help me carry bags.  “Oh it’s all right, I got it.  I’m used to it,” I say with a big smile, “but thanks for asking.”  They’re all really sweet and humble guys from the gate, and I have a real appreciation for that kind of thing.  It would be the first of many meetings with people that week that I suppose I half expected to be really cool instead of really kind, and as we made our way down the the lobby all I could think was:

Do a good interview;

Take a good picture;

Don’t talk TOO much; and above all else

Have a really good time

Repeat

Night Riots would later comment that they have a similar mantra that they all say to each other before going on stage:  “No mind,” they all chant.  It’s a reference from The Last Samurai.  A constant reminder not to get caught up.  Caught up in what doesn’t matter.

We made camp in the corner in a semi-private room.  In front of us, on the big square table I pressed down on a few buttons to start the tape rolling.  Behind us, a huge wall of windows stretched and shined, looking out onto the tippy-tops of every building north of us, glistening still in the rainy New York City sky.   – EVE REINHARDT

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From left to right: 1) Me & Avid Dancer: Brian Andrew Marquez, Leif R. Davidsen, me, Jacob Dillan Summers and Osvaldo (“Ozzie”) Carmona; 2) Fictionist bandmates Brandon Kitterman, Jacob Jones, Robbie Connolly, Stuart Maxfield and Aaron Anderson; 3) Little May bandmates Annie Hamilton, Liz Drummond and Hannah Field; 4) Night Riots bandmates, Matt DePauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Nick Fotinakes, Travis Hawley and Rico Rodriguez.

From left to right: 1) Me & Avid Dancer: Brian Andrew Marquez, Leif R. Davidsen, me, Jacob Dillan Summers and Osvaldo (“Ozzie”) Carmona; 2) Fictionist bandmates Brandon Kitterman, Jacob Jones, Robbie Connolly, Stuart Maxfield and Aaron Anderson; 3) Little May bandmates Annie Hamilton, Liz Drummond and Hannah Field; 4) Night Riots bandmates, Matt DePauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Nick Fotinakes, Travis Hawley and Rico Rodriguez.

From left to right: 1) Me & Night Riots: Matt DePauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, me Nick Fotinakes, Rico Rodriguez and Travis Hawley; 2) Me and Fictionist: Brandon Kitterman, Jacob Jones, Robbie Connolly, me, Stuart Maxfield and Aaron Anderson; Me and Little May: Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, Annie Hamilton and me.

From left to right: 1) Me & Night Riots: Matt DePauw, Mikel Van Kranenburg, me Nick Fotinakes, Rico Rodriguez and Travis Hawley; 2) Me and Fictionist: Brandon Kitterman, Jacob Jones, Robbie Connolly, me, Stuart Maxfield and Aaron Anderson; Me and Little May: Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, Annie Hamilton and me.

Int. Notes + The Kills at 2:30 // Jacob mentions "Listening to the Beatles for the first time...."  "I'm always being blow away by new things..."  "I was just trying to find my place." // Avid Dancer on Soundcloud "I Want To See You Dance."

Int. Notes + The Kills at 2:30 // Jacob mentions “Listening to the Beatles for the first time….” “I’m always being blow away by new things…” “I was just trying to find my place.” // Avid Dancer on Soundcloud “I Want To See You Dance.”

CMJ image 6 TIF

Room with a view: Free coffee in the CMJ Press and Artist Lounge at Hotel Rivington // Wifi login info // Map

CMJ image 5 TIFF

San Fermin pic // Avid Dancer int. notes // Night Riots notes, “No Mind.” // Fictionist Int. Notes

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Little May social media // Night Riots email confirmation and interview notes

 

Interviews conducted by Eve Reinhardt for VNDL throughout the week of CMJ Music Marathon will be posted soon.

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