Catskill Chill Music Festival, located at a summer camp where some festival goers including Lotus’ drummer Mike Greenfield once attended, was a three day music filled weekend. For summer’s last hurrah, about 5,000 music lovers gathered together in Hancock, NY. Considering it was only their third festival, I was taken aback at how great the lineup was, which included a variety of jam bands, funk, rock, bluegrass, DJ duo music productions, organic electronica, and livetronica. It’s plain to see that the Chill is already growing at an exponential rate.
Despite how young of a genre livetronica is, it made a solid presence at the festival, like Lotus, Zoogma, and EOTO for example. The Disco Biscuits are generally credited as one of the main founders of this genre, and according to the Biscuit’s guitarist Jon Gutwillig, they started Camp Bisco 11 years ago because they figured the only way they would play on the main stages at festivals was to make their own. Their creation unexpectedly gave birth to a new genre known as livetronica, which is the fusion of different musical styles including electronic music, jazz, funk, and rock in a live band setting. Hybrid electronica, another emerging genre that also had a strong presence at the Chill, is a sub-genre of livetronica. Although some acoustic and digital instruments may be present, hybrid electronica is mostly a fusion of music production with a tasteful blend of organic elements mixed in.
Sweet dispositions and smiling faces flooded the grounds that rested peacefully on a private lake. The venue was easy to navigate, with the main stage and B stage adjacent to each other, while the third stage Club Chill wasn’t too far. Something that really set this festival apart from the rest was the lack of overlapping sets, so you didn’t have to miss too much. Another plus was their happy hour, what other festival can you find $1 waters and $4 beers?
DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS
I was able to see three of the four members of The Disco Biscuits play some upbeat and fun sets. DrFameus, an electronic music project created by The Disco Biscuit’s drummer Allen Aucoin, played a high energy set at the B stage with some drum ‘n’ bass mixed with a little dubstep and house. Later that night I caught Conspirator, comprised of Marc Brownstein and Aaron Magner of the Disco Biscuits and guitarist Chris Michetti. They played an upbeat set with drummer KJ Sawka of Pendulum, who added his drum and bass expertise. They opened with ‘Retrograde’ and closed with ‘Feed The Wolf’ and ‘Park Ave.’ I thought I died and went to heaven when they busted out The Grateful Dead cover ‘Scarlet Begonias.’
Kung Fu, whose name symbolizes any skill achieved through hard work and practice, played an amazing psychedelic funk set that honored the meaning of their name. Chris Michetti of Conspirator and Neal Evans of Dopapod joined Kung Fu on stage for Stratus.
Lettuce, one of the bands also signed with Royal Family Records, brought the soul, funk and horns. EOTO, comprised of Jason Hann and Michael Travis of String Cheese Incident, played some sludge metal bass sounds and punk riffs, incorporating some splashes of dubstep. Like many bands at the Chill, they’re part of the emerging livetronica scene and also signed with Sci Fidelity Records, but what sets EOTO apart from the rest is the way they mix drums, bass and guitar to get that electronic sound that makes everyone dance the night away. Jeff Bujak played a late night set at Club Chill with an amazing light show accompanied by a talented hula hoop dancer that left everyone in awe. The image on the right is of Jeff BuJak playing a late night set at Club Chill.
DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS
People were running around saying there was going to be a tornado or some crazy storm, so my friends and I just chilled on the porch of a cabin and played some tunes until the mild storm passed. As disappointing as it was to discover that some sets were cut short, the staff was very accommodating and passed out a revised schedule immediately.
Tim Palmeiri and Rob Sommerville of Kung Fu sat in for Consider the Source, as well as Frankie Coda of Shwizz and Jon Schmarak of FiKus, playing an amazing set. Rubblebucket rocked the stage with their usual neon colored fabrics draping from the microphones. In an interview with Kal Traver at Camp Bisco XI, she went into detail about her creative process and how she designs and makes her own costumes. This time, she rocked a leopard leotard and owned it, and then went on to own the entire stage. When it comes to stage presence, Rubblebucket always takes the cake. In the photo on the left, you can get the gist of their colorful stage presence.
Headtronics, comprised of DJ Logic, Freakbass and Steve Molitz of Particle, had Adam Deitch of Break Science and Lettuce and Jules Jenssen of Indobox sit in on drums for part of their set. Tim Palmierri of Kung Fu also sat in for the entire time, playing a unique set fusing together acid jazz and funk.
Yonder Mountain String Band was one of the crowd’s most anticipated sets of the weekend. They jammed while mixing in some fast paced bluegrass. Jeff Austin called everyone in the crowd “a powerful tribe of music lovers,” which epitomized the overall vibe of the weekend.
Zoogma played a high energy set, blending together different elements of rock, hip-hop, jazz, funk, and organic electronica. This five piece livetronica group is known for their energetic dance beats combined with live improvisation. The light shows bring their live sets to another level, so if you have yet to see them live, then I suggest you get on that and check out their tour schedule at http://www.zoogma.net, where you can also download their music for FREE.
Soulive, another member of the Royal Family, practically made my night when they covered The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Third Stone from the Sun.’ Adding an element of surprise, The Shady Horns joined Soulive for a majority of their set. This frequent notion of musical collaborations in live settings does not only keep their fans on their toes or cultivate unbelievable talent, but it also preserves the integrity of the entire scene’s character.
As a huge Pink Floyd fan, I was ecstatic to hear Particle’s tasteful cover of ‘Have A Cigar,’ ‘One of These Days,’ and ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones.)’
Break Science, the Brooklyn based electronic duo, played an amazing set with Borahm Lee‘s trip-hop/dub on keyboards and laptop and Adam Deitch‘s breakbeat style on drums. The crowd’s energy levels shot through the roof when rapper CX came out on stage performing ‘Zion Station’ and ‘Victory.’ Knowing no limits, they do an excellent job at crossing genres and thus producing a truly unique sound and fun danceable tracks, which is why I cannot wait for them to release the album that they’ve been working on. Rumor has it that they’re working with a well-known guest artist and spicing things up a bit. I guess we’ll have to wait for their album to drop to find out more!
DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS
McLovins, a jam-rock band who blends elements of progressive rock with funk and jazz undertones, played a few covers including the Dead’s ‘Shakedown Street,’ The Band’s ‘Cripple Creek,’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Quinn the Eskimo.’ Although I love every genre of music as long as talent and passion are present, classic rock is where my heart is, so I really enjoyed their songs and loved the way they tastefully covered these classic pieces. On the left is an image of McLovins playing at Catskill Chill.
Cornmeal rocked the stage with their roots and bluegrass grooves. Heavily influenced by folk music, their set certainly stood out at the festival. They played at the main stage around 5:30pm on the last day, so it was the perfect time to listen to some energized yet laid-back tunes. Wavy Dave Burlingame rocked the banjo, along with Kris Nowak on guitar, bassist Chris Gangi, Allie Kral playing the fiddle, and Drew Littell on drums. Below are images of Cornmeal’s guitarist Kris Nowak and Wavy Dave on banjo.
If no one brought to my attention that it was Littell’s first time with Cornmeal, I wouldn’t have noticed since their performance was just as amazing as the rest of their live sets. At the same time he certainly added that extra umph, making the overall performance a fun experience.
To be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with FiKus before the Chill, but I am now a huge fan. The Electro-Funkadelic Hop-Rock band is a synthesis of analog and digital sounds that blend together the perfect balance of progressive melodies and electronic beats. FiKus’ bassist Travis Paparoski used the Moog Taurus bass pedals in an unorthodox way by using his hands rather than his feet. Paparoski said that using his hands gave him “more control of the wheels to create that wobbly dubstep sound.”
In the image below, you can see how Paparoski took control of the bass pedals in order to create a truly unique sound, which is one of the many reasons why FiKus is not only extremely talented but also has such an interesting sound.
Although Lotus has explored so many different styles over the years, mixing in elements of jazz, funk, progressive and post rock, they’ve managed to maintain their musical integrity while mastering improvisation. At the end of the day, their sound comes from the roots of rock and organic electronica accompanied by their signature melodic guitar hooks and heavy bass. In an interview with Lotus’ bassist Jesse Miller, he explains the progression of their sound in more depth.
Lotus’ guitarist Mike Rempel during their set.
Lotus began with a mellow start, opening with ‘Suitcases,’ then quickly busted out some fast pace electro dance beats. They also threw in some good old classics like ‘Nematode,’ and ‘Caywood,’ from their album Germination, and finally closed with ‘It’s All Clear to Me Now’ into ‘128.’ Few jam bands are capable of telling a story through their sound while bringing their audience on a journey with them the way Lotus does. Keyboardist/ guitarist Luke Miller explained how each song aims to “set up, deliver, set up, deliver, set up, surprise, set up, and then immediately deliver.”
Horizon Wireless, a DJ duo consisting of DJ/Producer Harrison Waxenberg and Drummer/Percussionist Sol Montoya (formerly of Digital Frontier) played some high energy dancey tracks with progressive beats, mixing in some minimal and tech house. Starting with an idea and a diverse catalogue of tracks, they improvise their way through their sets so that they can really feed off the crowd’s energy and emanate a certain emotion. As a result of their method and style, their music brings you on a journey, with tribal grooves, progressive climaxes and psychedelic breakbeats. One of the biggest highlights for this particular set was when Harrison started playing bass after dropping a sample stating “I’m tired of using technology” and was also joined by flautist Jesse Stocker (formerly of Digital Frontier) at that time adding a graceful organic element.
Aside from their exclusive set at Camp Bisco XI’s VIP late-night tent, it was Kick Rocks’ first public performance. Kick Rocks is an improvisational electronic jazz-funk super group comprised of The Disco Biscuits‘ guitarist Jon Gutwillig, Lotus’ Mike Greenfield on drums, Brother Past’s bassist Clay Parnell and Dopapod’s Eli Winderman on keyboards. Midway through the set, Gutwillig asked the crowd if they wanted to hear more jazzy or dancey music, and then continued their set with some jazzy tunes. They also played an amazing cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter.’
One of my favorite parts about festivals such as Catskill Chill is how it brings people together through music, and there’s always that tribal vibe present. The entire weekend at Catskill Chill Music Festival was a huge success, with special thanks to Destiny Spang and everyone at Brotherly Love Productions for making the entire weekend possible. I’m already looking forward to next year!
Written by Allie Gangi
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