Photos | Review | Catskill Chill Music Festival | New York

Words by: Jeanne Bettencourt | Images by: Vernon Webb and Nicholas Fitanides

Catskill Chill Music Festival :: 09.07.12-09.09.12 :: Camp Minglewood :: Hancock, NY

Full review below photo gallery!

Dopapod by Vernon Webb
Camp Minglewood served weathered festival attendees and music enthusiasts well at the third annual Catskill Chill Music Festival in Hancock, NY this past September 7–9. The picturesque campgrounds (also the set for films Dirty Dancing and Jason) was aside a gorgeous lake and tucked away in the mountains in southern New York, providing an excellent backdrop to enjoy one last summer party. And what a party it was – it was evident that 99% of those in attendance were seasoned vets in the party business, and the size and exclusive feeling the festival radiated were only a few of its wonderful qualities. The best part about the size of the festival is that the event reached capacity this year (doubling in size each year since 2010) so the festival cannot get any bigger next year.

The setup of the event was all about proximity – except to your car (one of the very few drawbacks was carless camping). The two main stages were right next to one another aside the lake with the 3rd “Club Chill” stage only a short walk away. It only took a few moments to walk to your camping area (even the farthest of spots weren’t more than a 5 minute walk), and there were a number of lodging options, including well kept cabins with showers and flushing toilets. The stages were all covered, and the main stage and club chill had bleachers on the outskirts of the concert area. The acoustics at the main stage were unbelievable as well, and the only downside to any of the stages was the lack of somewhere grassy to sit. Overall, the layout and location of the event was very accessible, clean and beautiful. The event was also very well organized.

Eric Krasno by Vernon Webb
Friday, the weather was still in full-on summer mode, with high temperatures and a sunny sky, making the hectic battle of getting camping and party gear from a to b a little less desirable. The struggle only made getting settled and that first set of the weekend more rewarding though, and once set up it was time to enjoy some top notch music. Conspirator’s set was extremely impressive. This open-format livetronica quintet continues to evolve and push the boundaries of their music and talents, and they got the party popping Friday night with high energy songs like “Gypsy Lane” and “Feed the Wolf”. Funk kings Lettuce dominated the main stage with lead guitarist Eric Krasno melting faces and reminding me why he is one of my favorite guitarists at the moment. The horn section was in full swing and Nigel Hall’s vocals had the hairs on my neck standing at full attention. Song highlights included “Lettsanity”, “Nyack” and “Move on Up”.

Rubblebucket by Nicholas Fitanides
The weather Saturday made things slightly more difficult for fans and artists alike – a severe weather advisory and tornado warning put the music on hold and required campers to lower their canopies and hide out inside until further notice. The festival did an excellent job keeping everyone informed and safe however, and new schedules were passed around, allowing almost all the artists a chance to take the stage (The Alchemystics were cut off after only one song but were able to play Sunday during the Open Mic time slot). The weather wasn’t too horrible, with an hour or so of rain and some wind, but the biggest inconvenience was the mud left behind. One of the best sets of the day was given by Brooklyn-based octet Rubblebucket at the main stage. The upbeat indie-dance group exceeded all expectations as the packed stage soared through songs like “Caverns” and “Came Out of a Lady”, keeping fans on their toes as no one knew what sound was coming next. If you have not yet seen this band perform, get on top of that ASAP – they will not disappoint! Experimental electronic/rock group Zoogma played at the B stage later on in the evening. The quartet put out a performance that was a weekend highlight, and one could understand the reasoning behind the “WTF is Zoogma?” signs/stickers/pins, as their sound is extremely difficult to articulate. Their light show was entrancing and their dance heavy beats got your feet moving – a must-see for any experimental electronic enthusiast. Finally, Soulive heated up the main stage as The Shady Horns joined Eric Krasno and the Evans brothers for most of the set. Nigel Hall also jumped in on vocals for “Too Much” > “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears cover). Covers seemed to be the theme for the set as the jazz group tore up “Third Stone From the Sun” (Jimi Hendrix), “Eleanor Rigby” (Beatles) and a James Brown medley.

Lotus by Vernon Webb
The weather lightened up for the final day of the festival and the day kicked things off with a beautiful performance given by the Jennifer Hartswick Band. The multi-talented front woman Jen Hartswick impressed us all with her powerful lungs as she commanded the trumpet and serenaded the crowd with her gorgeous vocals. Her soulful and funky performance included a confident and charismatic cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothing”, which included a tease of Phish’s “First Tube”. The McLovins played the B stage right after Ms. Hartswick, dressed to impress (one of them was in pirate gear). The Connecticut based jam-rock quartet first started gaining public attention after they formed in 2008 for their cover of “You Enjoy Myself’ (Phish). Since then the young band has proven themselves in the festival scene and provide feel-good music for the soul. With all four musicians on vocals, they got their crowd moving with several original songs as well as covers such as “Cripple Creek” and “Shakedown Street”. Last but very certainly not least, the performance of the weekend was given by electro-jam band Lotus. For a diehard fan, the quintet put forth one of the best performances and set lists of the summer, and was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend. Lotus is known for their dance-heavy jams and powerful melodies, and both of those qualities were in excess this evening. The band fed fans some old school love with “Caywood”, including other song highlights “Behind Midwest Storefronts”, “Livingston Storm” > “Dowrn” and closing out the night with personal favorite “128”.

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[Published on: 10/5/12]

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