They played CMJ

And then blew up.

  • Photograph: Owen Richards

    The xx

  • MGMT

  • Photograph: Hilary Leftik

    Arcade Fire

  • They Played CMJ Eminem


  • jeffbuckleyCRIT804

    Jeff Buckley

  • Beastie Boys



Photograph: Owen Richards

The xx

The xx (2009)
Was it their moody lighting, their Britishness, their cool logo? Well, maybe these things played a part in the xx's massive success at CMJ, but really it was the tunes that got New York googly-eyed: spare electro beats combined with mercurial, breathily sexy vocals.

MGMT (2007)
Brooklyn's psychedelic electro-rockers stormed CMJ, inadvertently kicking off a whole scene (enter Chairlift, Amazing Baby et al.).

Arcade Fire (2004)
Playing the Mercury Lounge, singer Win Butler joked, "Hi, we're Flavor of the Month." Ha.

Eminem (1998)
With his Slim Shady LP in the pipeline, Marshall Mathers III showed the crowd why Interscope had snapped him up so fast.

Jeff Buckley (1994)
A month after Grace was released, the late, great Buckley played the Supper Club. "I'm not afraid to love you," he whispered as he took the stage.

Beastie Boys (1985)
The teenage trio showcased its talents a year before releasing debut album Licensed to Ill—which became the best-selling rap album of the '80s.

R.E.M. (1983)
Reviewing the debut LP by this band of wide-eyed Athens, Georgia upstarts, CMJ wrote, "Murmur makes R.E.M. the band to watch in 1983."

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