Catskill Chill 2013
For many, September indicates that festival season has come to a close and summer quickly fades as autumn approaches fast. One particular music festival gave many a last chance to see some of the best live music in the scene. During the first weekend of September, Catskill Chill returned to the scenic Camp Minglewood in Hancock, New York for its fourth year in a row. Although it was my first time in attendance, I knew right away that this festival wasn't ordinary; I knew that it was something special.
Between the music, people, venue and vibes, Catskill Chill established itself as a community - offering a unique, un-matched energy that can't be found anywhere else. The lineup offered a wide array of talented artists and bands, obviously put together by music-lovers. From Lotus to Lettuce and Brothers Past to The Meter Men, there was something for everyone. The Chill brought together such an amazing group of people, so many friends both old and new. The French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts is an absolutely incredible venue for a music-festival; It was large enough to have privacy but small enough to feel like a community. Bunkhouses and cabins are such unique features that everyone should experience at least once in their life. Mist slowly rose off the lake and created a picturesque memory that has been instilled in my mind since. For many, it was the last festival of the summer, the positive vibes and high energy proved this to be true. There were smiling faces and soulful music around every corner, a combination that can make even the coldest hearts feel warm.
Catskill Chill put together a lineup with deep roots in funk and jam but didn't forget about the electronic side of things either. The best funk performances of the weekend go to Lettuce and The Meter Men although The Motet brought an awesome set with funky Grateful Dead covers. Lettuce blew me away with their professionalism and set-list, which was packed with a wide array of genres - both old and new. They really got the crowd going when they crushed a few Jay-Z covers, nobody expected that. Adam Deitch is one of the best drummers in the scene right now, nobody can match the sound he gets from his set. The Meter Men, put together by legendary funk musicians out of New Orleans featured Paige McConnell of Phish on the piano/keyboards. They proved to the crowd why they were some of the best musicians on stage that weekend and did a good job of letting everyone get the spotlight, especially when they brought out Bobby Paltauf - an extraordinary, young guitarist who will soon be a household name. The Motet performed a great set that many patrons enjoyed, combining both funk and jam, they played revitalized Grateful Dead songs with funky twists throughout.
When it came down to the jam/jamtronica side of things, the festival was definitely not lacking. Lotus played an incredible set to start things off on Friday; When they played the opening riff of 'Flower Sermon', the crowd literally erupted, very cool thing to see from the back. Their set-list was definitely catered to their die-hard fans, playing 'Mikesnack' and a 'Wax' - 'Tip of the Tongue' - 'Wax' segment to close out the set; Lotus was planning on playing 'Colorado' as their last song but unfortunately didn't have enough time left in their set. It was hard for other acts to match the energy that they brought to the table, they rarely ever fall out of the pocket when jamming. Besides them, Brothers Past and RAQ were great late-night sets. Tom Hamilton of Brothers Past never fails to impress the crowd, he plays a hollow-body guitar better than most. Talented guitarist Chris Michetti spent his birthday at The Chill and crushed two sets on Saturday night with both Conspirator and RAQ. Conspirator even played a set that was jam-heavy, they usually play live-electronic music with a lot of tracking. After their set, Marc Brownstein said "Tonight was the first night we actually opened up the jams, a lot more improvisation than in the past". The set spoke for itself and took many by surprise.
Although it's extremely difficult to pick just one 'best set of the weekend', it should definitely go to Dopadosio (Dopapod + Papadosio) - Nine people on stage from two different bands, to play the last set, of the last festival of the summer; the energy under that roof was absolutely incredible and will be extremely hard to match next year. They opened up with a Radiohead cover and absolutely crushed it, not an easy thing to do with nine musicians on stage. Whoever was managing the main stage did a good job at setting up for that set and making sure the transitions ran smoothly. Dopadosio played a few songs from each of their catalogs and closed the festival out better than I could ever imagine. Everyone should really keep Dopapod and Papadosio on their radar for the next couple of years. Two ridiculously talented bands who have been touring relentlessly over the past 2 years, they're finally getting the exposure that they deserve. Do not sleep on them any longer, trust me.
Many believe that Catskill Chill was the best festival of the summer, myself included. It was truly an amazing, collaborative effort from all the parties involved. More and more festivals are created each summer as others continue to grow in size every year. Catskill Chill proved to festival-goers that there is still hope in the world, there are still good people out there. The venue owners of Camp Minglewood in Hancock, New York need to realize that they have something very special in their hands. The festival will obviously grow in size, but as the years pass many are confident that The Chill will continue to keep its family vibe; The 'ChillFam' as most call it. As patrons broke down their campsites and packed up their cars, a mutual feeling floated through the air, from musicians to fans and more importantly from one human to another. Many smiles and tears of joy were shared, Catskill Chill has come and gone again. There were no goodbyes, the only words exchanged between attendees were "See you next year". Birds chirped in the evergreens above, as the last bit of mist on the lakes' surface dissipated. There were no negative stories exchanged, no bad vibes bouncing around, it was an all-around beautiful weekend. Catskill Chill was pure, the perfect example of what a festival should be, in a world as diluted as ours.