Talented up-and-coming bands will be taking over NYC’s downtown indie clubs from March 11 to March 15 for a five-day stretch of epic venue-hopping.
If you enjoy searching the internet for hours to find your new favorite bands, small to midsize, local to international, then this festival is an ideal place for you to unearth new music—but in a live setting. A $100 badge gets you priority access to more than 200 shows that span indie-electronica and acoustic twee to noise and punk rock.
"New music needs more points of discovery, especially in a live setting," says co-founders of the event Mike Bell and Steven Matrick. "With streaming and other ways to consume recordings dominating our modern culture, we set out to curate a place where artists have the ability to reach people without worrying about algorithms or ad spends on social media."
The festival is structured to let you hop from show to show based on your music interests, with each participating venue in close proximity of one another including: Arlene's Grocery, Berlin, Bowery Ballroom, Bowery Electric, The Delancey, LOLA, Ludlow House and Pianos. While the Lower East Side and East Village is usually grounds for an influx of fratty crowds, this festival is not that.
If New Colossus Festival reminds you of CMJ Music Marathon, you're not far off at all. This fest is looking to fill the void that CMJ left, which is creating a no-frills environment for music fans and a platform for up-and-coming acts.
How is this one different? There are no headliners at New Colossus, so unlike old-school CMJ or present-day SXSW, you won't have to choose between missing a huge name for a smaller band you're curious about. We like that because that baby band could easily be more your jams, anyway.
Below are the acts we can’t wait to see this year.
This English storyteller writes introspective, poetic lyrics paired with folky rhythms. He is slated to play six arresting sets throughout the fest.
Various locations, times and prices.
A Place To Bury Strangers
Local faves A Place to Bury Strangers (a band which can't be mentioned without its infamous moniker, "New York's loudest") plays the type of aggro electro-goth rock that we immediately associate with those black-clad misfits in ’80s teen movies. At this noise-rock mega-show, New York’s Public Practice and England’s Life will get the speakers blaring early.
Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side Fri 13 at 9pm; $18–$20.
Catch a rare NYC show from this snappy power-pop female trio while they tour the U.S. The Liverpool, England, band’s 2019 album Big Wows shows off their modern pop, full of fun electronic blips, sparkling arpeggios and lyrics that ooze sarcasm, which is heard especially on the album’s first single, “Jokin’ Me.” You can also catch several sets from them during the New Colossus Festival.
Rough Trade NYC, Williamsburg (bowerypresents.com). Fri 13 at 9pm; Various other locations, times and prices.
You and your friends can kick it at this Canadian band’s jangly indie-rock show, where you may hear a tinge of Velvet Underground in their tunes. Back home, they’ve opened for bands like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Check out their debut album, Football Money to prep.
Berlin, East Village, Fri 13 at 6:30pm; $10. Bowery Electric, East Village Sat 14 at 6:30pm; $10.
This sugary English psych-pop quartet of Esme Dee Hand-Halford, Sidonie Hand-Halford, and Henry Wade, is currently on fire in the United Kingdom. Dance to its latest psychedelic disco jam, “Space Samba.” The group has no shortage of ear candy.
Various locations, times and prices.
Water From Your Eyes
Post-punk, acoustic-twee, hypnotic pop: You can’t put this Brooklyn dance duo from singer Rachel Brown and producer Nate Amos in a box. Listen for tracks like the seven-minute-long “Bad in the Sun.”
Bowery Electric, East Village Thu 12 at 6:30pm; $10. Pianos, Lower East Side Fri 13 at 6:30pm; $10.
If you have a pass, don't forget to take advantage of these perks in the Lower East Side and East Village during the festival.
Moscot Eyewear is 20% off (180 Orchard Street); Cafe Vita will give you 20% off coffee (24 Ludlow Street); you can get a 10% discount on admission into the Tenement Museum (103 Orchard Street); Ludlow Fitness will give you a $10 day pass (100 Delancey Street); Black Crescent is offering $4 draft beer, a $9 beer and shot special and $4 chili cheese dog (76 Clinton Street); Local 138 is doing $5 draft beers, well drinks, wine and $7 PBR and shot (181 Orchard St).