CMJ Music Marathon 2013 has past its midway point, but the dance-floor sweats and inebriated mosh pits have only just begun. This weekend will feature hundreds of shows from a variety of artists, from Finnish beat makers to rappers with diamond-incrusted jack-o-lantern necklaces. With so many shows, there are bound to be some duds, so we picked out a few that are guaranteed to be a good time:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18
7 p.m., Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Plaza, Manhattan
To call Houston rapper Riff Raff a character would be a huge understatement. The cornrow-adorned, grill-wearing MC has an MTV tattoo on his neck, likes to rap on stage with one of those Backstreet Boys-era ear microphones and is supposedly the inspiration for James Franco’s character in Springbreakers. His music is just as wild and entertaining as his appearance as he chooses to rap over electronic, dance-inspired beats that squeak and squirm all over the place. His shows are neon-clad affairs, full of twerking and outrageous outfits, demonstrating that ignorance — at least for one night — can be bliss.
10 p.m., Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston St., Manhattan
Willis Beal Earl is a blues rock artist from Chicago that has garnered a cult-like following for his booming voice and obscure backstory. His career started after he was discharged from the army and began passing out CDs of his rough recordings, which usually featured weird squiggled drawings on them, around coffee shops in Albuquerque, N.M. Since then, he’s signed to indie major XL Recordings and released his debut, Nobody Knows, a lo-fi record full of twangy ballads and honest lyrics that reveal Earl’s neurotic behavior. Don’t let the audio quality of his records fool you, though; Earl is a sneaky good showman who puts on a loud and entertaining live show.
12:30 a.m., Glasslands Gallery, 289 Kent Ave, Brooklyn
New York-based producer Sweater Beats has cashed in on the recent reemergence of r&b music by crafting songs that incorporate vocal snippets from singers like Ciara and Rihanna by mashing them against sporadic drums and synthesizers. The results can vary in mood range, from the high-tempo crank of “MLLNDLLR” to the laid-back chill of “I Got U.” He’ll most likely play a variety of songs from his catalogue while also incorporating records from other electronic artists into his set.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
10 p.m., Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th St., Brooklyn
Joshua Tillman, now performing under the moniker Father John Misty, first made waves in the folk indie scene as a drummer for Seattle band Fleet Foxes. In 2012, he decided to leave the band and go the solo route, introducing his new persona with a new single and a dark video to accompany it, which starred Park and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza. His music has a moodier tinge to it than his work with Fleet Foxes and, at times, ventures off into more experimental genres, like psychedelic rock. But it still has the same amount of heart and raw emotion, which transfers really well live.
12:oo a.m., Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton St., Manhattan
Don’t let the goofy glasses fool you; at one point, Soul Khan was one of the best battle rappers in the world. The Brooklyn-based MC had a knack for picking apart other rappers by exposing their biggest insecurities, whether it was related to their appearance or rapping ability. Khan has since retired from the battle circle and entered the studio, where he’s recorded a number of underground classics with Brown Bag Allstars, a group that prides itself on crafting gritty East Coast boom bap. His show won’t be the biggest in CMJ, but it will be one of the more distinctly New York ones.
1:30 a.m., Glasslands Gallery, 289 Kent Ave, Brooklyn
By now, the Internet has heard enough mash-ups to last three lifetimes. The genre took over the blogosphere in the late 2000s and is only now slowing down. As a result, thousands of mash-up tracks have been released, with only a small percentage of them actually improving upon the songs they were built from. A large portion of those acceptable tracks were created by production duo Hood Internet, which revolutionized the genre by brilliantly blending hip-hop vocals with indie rock instrumentals. Half the fun is hearing rappers like Jay Z get mashed up with artists like Phoenix and MGMT, while the other half is watching group members ABX and STV SLV work the turntables effortlessly.