Catskill Chill… more like Catskill Rage! With another northeast hurricane threatening to steal our weekend sunshine, us festi-goers kept it moving full force in our own renegade cyclone. Hosted at Camp Minglewood in Hancock, New York, this summer sleepaway camp transformed into a far-out station of musical enchantment for the long weekend. Since 2006, Harvest Festival has also been held on these same gorgeous grounds, complete with a lakeside view and private cabins with bunk beds, bathrooms, and showers.
Jimkata started off Friday night by drawing in the crowd with their electro-rock beats. They played two new songs before performing “Chalice III” and “Roll With the Punches” off their latest album Ghosts ‘n Killers. Conspirator had two and a half hours to rage the stage and turn the “chill” scene into a non-stop dance party. They closed with a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “China Cat Sunflower” before coming back for an encore.
Perpetual Groove jammed late night at the main stage, playing classics such as “Cairo” and “All My Friends,” as well as a more upbeat version of Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave.” Personally, Break Science made me dance the hardest, even though their two-hour set started at 3:00am. Everyone went wild when they introduced Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, whose hip-hop verses did nothing but enhance the performances of Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee.
The rain steered clear of the campgrounds all day Saturday, and when I woke up from a peaceful night’s sleep on my bunk bed, I took some time to admire the scenery at Camp Minglewood. I made it down to the amphitheater right before Zach Deputy started his set. It was my first time seeing this one-man band, and I was incredibly impressed by his stunning voice, island/soul sound, and his ability to loop and play multiple instruments simultaneously. Watching him perform gave me a feel-good vibe, and his fans danced and smiled freely, expressing their genuine devotion to the talented artist.
At 7:30 the crowd shifted to the B Stage to groove with Giant Panda Guerilla Dubsquad. The band began with smooth reggae and gentle rhythms before easing their way into heavy breakdowns and funky bass lines. Before I knew it, I was trapped in a herd of Umphrey’s fans rushing back to the Main Stage to catch the first of their two sets. The amount of people at the festival appeared to double before my eyes, and it became apparent that this headliner was not to be missed. I squeezed my way to the front to catch their opening song, “Rocker Part 2”. Umphrey’s McGee wasted little time getting heavy with their guitar riffs and dark bass lines. Drummer Kris Meyers smashed his cymbals and stomped his kick drum as Brendan Bayliss sang the lyrics with passion.
While the band basked in the spotlight, I had a strange encounter with a fellow fan. I was approached by someone who demanded I put down my “rage stick” because it was “in his way.” A rage stick, for those of you who may not know, is a decoration that people make for festivals so their friends can find them in the crowds. Creativity and uniqueness is essential when constructing a rage stick, and it can be embellished with anything from glowsticks and blow-up animals to dolls and balloons. When I insisted on dancing with my stick in the air, he huffed and puffed his way past me to yell at a guy dancing with a large stuffed banana. Within seconds, the widest smile in the crowd deflated as the guy put down his banana with heartbreak in his eyes. I instantly tapped him on the shoulder and reminded him he was in the front row at a music festival. Once he realized that the guy was ruining his fun, he threw his arms back in the air and the banana persevered!
Umphrey’s ended strong with “Breathe” by Pink Floyd, and everyone scrambled back to their campsites during set break to prepare for another hour and a half of madness.
The last act I caught that weekend topped them all. Dumpstaphunk’s New Orleans groove is unlike any other. The two bassists, the guitarist, and the keyboard player know how to incorporate powerful soul with upbeat funk; but it was their drummer who left me mesmerized. Nikki Glaspie has shared the stage with Karl Denson, G. Love & Special Sauce, Kanye West, and Beyonce to name a few. During their performance, the other members stepped off to the side as Nikki took control. For more than five minutes, she captivated her audience with the dirtiest drum solo I have ever witnessed. The crowd responded with tremendous cheers and thunderous clapping, and the band returned for one more song before they were done for the night.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for Boston on Sunday afternoon, so I missed out on 7 Walkers, Dopapod, The Original DJ Jazzy Jeff, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and Boombox. The inescapable rainstorm may have kept out the sunshine, but the music didn’t stop until Zoogma closed out the festival at 3am. Though the vibes were not the most friendly, I met many fantastic people and became introduced to new bands that I look forward to seeing again in the future. Thanks to everyone who made Catskill Chill a tremendous weekend!
Photo credit: Jason Gorsage