Disc Jam: The Music

I don’t think I normally would have wanted to go to Disc Jam as I’m not super into jam bands (my attention span taps out after about 4 minutes of a song). However, there are 2 reasons why Disc Jam attracted my attention this year:

  1. The lineup contained an excess of funk music, which I love
  2. I think I may, kind of, sort of, almost, be getting into jam bands. Maybe.

So anyway, I took one look at the Disc Jam lineup and knew I had to go. And as always, the music did not disappoint. Here were the highlights:

Funky Dawgs Brass Band
I had only heard of this band because I have a Facebook friend who posts about them obsessively. I listened to this set from my perch at the box office, and it was so fun and upbeat. I will definitely be checking them out next time they come through New York. The video below is 50 minutes long but click anywhere in it and I promise you’ll enjoy!

The Motet
I first heard of The Motet when I was reading about Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic and learned that he used to be in the band. I’ve seen a Big G/Motet collab set but never The Motet on their own. Their style of funk is a little more old school, and I loved finally getting to see them at Disc Jam. HOWEVER. Their set was from 11pm to 1am, and I was insanely tired. So I did a very responsible thing and I went to bed at 11:45. So I missed most of the set, but I regret nothing. Because sleep is a beautiful thing.

Turkuaz
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND LISTEN TO THIS BAND. They’re a 9 piece band from Brooklyn and this set was so good it was life-changing. I had heard a ton about their live shows but hadn’t gotten to see them before, and apparently I picked a good first show because I talked to someone who has seen them roughly 30 times and he said it was the best set he’s ever seen. I gush about music a lot, obviously, but I have seriously never felt such joy in a crowd as I did during Turkuaz. The energy was infectious. I’m almost afraid to post a video here because it doesn’t even come close to capturing the live experience. It was unreal.

Break Science Live Band
Break Science is normally an electro-hip hop duo, but the live band incorporates most of the members of the funk band Lettuce, so it steers a bit away from the hip hop vibe and, like everything else I’ve talked about in this post, gets into a funktastic dance party. It’s actually been probably 2 years since I’ve seen a Break Science set that DIDN’T involve the live band. I love them as a duo but I will never complain about the extra instruments. This was the #1 set I was looking forward to at Disc Jam and while it was hard to match Turkuaz (especially right after their set), they threw down in a major way.

Esseks
Not a funk band! Esseks is a producer of egggggcellent bass music. He’s super diverse and is also a visual artist, which is often incorporated into his sets. I’m not sure how I first heard about him but I’ve seen him a number of times and every time is super fun. This set took place at the stage in the woods which was really cool late at night.

The first festival of the season has come and gone, and while I’m bummed that Disc Jam is over, I’m thrilled that Electric Forest is so soon!! I know there’s more great music on the horizon for me and I can’t wait to come back and share all about it. Until then!

Disc Jam: The Experience

Last weekend I traveled to a little town near Albany for Disc Jam, a new festival for me (yayyyy). It was a new experience not only in that I had never attended this fest before, but in that it was my first time volunteering at a festival, something I’ve often thought about doing but never actually did. Let’s talk festival deets and then I’ll discuss my volunteer experience. Heeeere we go!

Check-In/Security
Disc Jam is a festival of only around 2,000 people, by far the smallest I’ve ever attended. There are no lines for anything, ever, anywhere. Instead of waiting in your car for hours to get into a parking lot, you just…pull into the parking lot. It’s a magical thing.

Crowd
Cool people abound! The tiny festivals tend to attract the most down to earth, friendly people. Everyone I met was great. A+ festival friends.

Fun Stuff
If you play frisbee golf, which I certainly do not,  that’s a big deal here as they have a few tourneys throughout the weekend (hence the “disc” in “Disc Jam”). They also have really incredible art on display, and I would have bought a million pieces if I had both money and space on my wall. I had to settle for just looking at it.

Disc Jam has an unofficial/official symbol of a pineapple, for reasons unknown to me. In addition to pineapples showing up on festival art, the edge of the main stage is lined with pineapples. People take them, cut them open, and make fabulous fruity drinks out of them. I got back to my campsite one time and my friends passed me a pineapple where they had used a knife to chop up the inside into tiny pieces and poured tequila in it. I actually hate tequila (but will tolerate it in margaritas) but this was so fabulous and summery.

Water
There was one free water station, or so I heard. I also heard that the water from it tasted terrible. I do not know this to be true as I drank out of bottles the whole weekend (sorry, environment!).

Layout
The festival was tiny and we were able to hear the main stage pretty clearly from both my campsite and my perch at the box office, which was my volunteer job for the weekend. Everything is so close to everything else that I didn’t get nearly as sweaty or tired as I do at other festivals. There was one stage in the woods which was very reminiscent of Electric Forest (which I am leaving for in FOUR DAYS!!) and super cool.

Transportation
Friends with cars are cool! It was a little under a 3 hour drive from NYC. I cannot imagine that there is any type of easy public transportation there.

Price
I think the festival cost, at most, $180 for the weekend if you bought your ticket at the super last minute. And that’s for FOUR DAYS. (I have now capitalized “FOUR DAYS” twice in this blog post.) Super duper cheap.

Volunteering
Volunteering was an interesting experience. I initially signed up because I wanted to go to the festival but had no one to go with, and so I thought this would be a good way to meet people. I ended up having a whole Disc Jam posse and so while I was still happy to go to the festival for free, I didn’t really feel like I needed the volunteer experience anymore. I had 6 hour shifts in the box office but there wasn’t all that much to do, so it was a lot of sitting around and then making the occasional ticket sale. My shift was from 9am to 3pm so while I didn’t miss any music I wanted to see, I did miss a lot of sitting around doing nothing at the campsite, which is, in all honesty, some of the best parts of camping festivals. I did meet some great people volunteering, but I think in the future I would stick to volunteering only for more expensive festivals. Saving ~$150 was not entirely worth it, but it was a fun experiment, at least.

I would absolutely go back to Disc Jam in the future, especially if the lineup is ever as great as it was this year (more on that later). First camping festival of the season = success!

Governors Ball: The Experience

Governors Ball marked the beginning of what I believe will be a full and magical festival season. I had only been to this festival once before and only for one day, and even though I only attended for one day this year, I still have lots to say about it! So let’s get started.

Check-In/Security
As I approached the festival I got panicky because I saw a longgggg line. I mean long. It wrapped around in all sorts of ways and looked horrifying. I was pleased to learn that this line was for will call only, and if you already had your ticket you could proceed to the gate, which had no line at all. Victory! If you waited in that will call line – sorry, man.

Crowd
This crowd looked YOUNG. I’m talking high school young. Even the electronic festivals I’ve been to have never had an average age this low. The teenz were actually pretty well-behaved, but man did I feel old.

Fun Stuff
I give Governors Ball an A+ for their fun activities. They had a mini golf course, a candy bar (which consisted only of them giving out free sour straws, but whatever they were delicious), several 21+ areas with ping pong and lounges, many photo booth opportunities, and perhaps my favorite thing, a station to print your name (and a friend’s name) on a Coke can! I went to the festival by myself, so I printed my friend can for my friend Cody and it is now sitting in my fridge where I will probably drink it and not actually give it to him (sorry Cody). The can with my name on it will be a wonderful addition to my tchotchke shelf at work.

Water
It wasn’t super hot out so I only had to fill my water bottle once, and there wasn’t much of a line. I can’t speak to how the lines were later in the day when it was more crowded, though. Either way, bonus points for having those high speed faucets.

Layout
The layout of the festival was slightly different than I remember from a few years ago, but as with every Randall’s Island festival, I love that it’s never too far from any one point to any other point. I will say though that they put up some sort of pointless gateway/arch between two areas of the festival grounds that seemed to serve no purpose other than create a little bit of a bottleneck. There were also not nearly enough garbage cans – I carried my food garbage for awhile before giving up and just tossing it on the ground (sorry, environment!).

Transportation
Walking to Randall’s Island across 125th street is free and easy. GovBall always tries to sell you on a bus or ferry pass and have you ever seen one of those ferry lines at the close of a festival? No thank you.

Price
It could be cheaper, certainly. But they really pack a lot into a small space and a short amount of time (since it’s not a camping festival, it ends at 11pm each day). I would probably have a hard time wanting to shell out for a 3 day pass, though, considering this festival costs the same or more than festivals where you actually get to sleep there.

Want to hear about the music of GovBall day 1? While I would normally do a full recap of most of the sets I saw, I was so blown away by Lorde’s performance that I chose to only write about that. If you missed it, check it out now.

This coming weekend I’m volunteering at a teeny little jammy fest called Disc Jam, so stay tuned for yet another festival recap soon!

Meadows: The Music

Meadows Music Mania! (I’m cool.) Here’s a look at all the (spoiler alert: awesome) music I got to listen to at Meadows in Queens this past weekend. And clickity click on over here if you missed all the juicy logistical details that I like to geek out about (again, I’m cool).

Chromeo
The first time I ever heard of “FUNKLORDZ” Chromeo was in December 2013 when they opened for a free Pretty Lights show with a DJ set. Since that time, I’ve seen Chromeo do probably around 5 DJ sets, but never a straight up Chromeo set. UNTIL NOW. Man, they were just the best. They have this funky, upbeat 80s kind of vibe and finally getting to hear them actually sing and play instruments was just so fun. Such a high energy way to kick off the day.

Sylvan Esso
I had seen this indie pop duo once before at a free Prospect Park show, but my friend and I were more focused on our picnic than the actual music. As someone who has gone so far towards the realm of electro-soul and funk music in my listening habits, it was nice to remember that I actually enjoy other types of music, on occasion. This was a great, mellow daytime set.

Damian Marley/Thomas Jack

The son of Bob Marley and a tropical house producer don’t really deserve to be lumped together, except they were on at the same time and my friend and I split our time between these 2 sets (about 25%/75%). It was like 2 ends of the tropical spectrum, going from reggae vibes into fist-pumpy beachiness. Thomas Jack ended his run with Lipps Inc’s 80s hit “Funky Town,” and jumping around with one of my best friends screaming our heads off to this song was some of the most fun 4 minutes I’ve ever had at a festival.

Empire of the Sun
Instead of telling you about Empire of the Sun, I’m just going to leave this video here. They are…something else. I mean this in the best way possible.

Pretty Lights
Pretty Lights is never not good, let’s be real. I don’t think it’s possible for me to listen to him for 75 minutes, shrug my shoulders and go “meh.” But this was easily a top 3 Pretty Lights set for me, possibly best ever (I think I’ve seen PL around 12 times now). The new-ish band he’s touring with is fantastic, Lazershark (his lighting director) is basically a genius, he puts a funky spin on already amazing songs and the whole thing just felt like a big dance party with family (which it is, if you love Pretty Lights. Fans = family and you’ll run into people you know and love at any PL set). “I Can See It In Your Face” is probably my favorite song to hear live because the trumpet part just fills me with SO MUCH JOY. (Watch the video below, the awesome trumpets come in at 2:14). If you want to hear the studio version with slightly better audio (which you should, because this song is f’ing great, use the bottom link and wait for the trumpets at 2:38).

I still feel like I’m living in the wake of that amazing PL set. Derek, you killed it, as always. So much love.

Meadows: The Experience

Festival season is officially over and I am a sad, sad lady. Here is the part 1 recap of day 1 of the inaugural Meadows Music & Arts Festival (I did not attend day 2).

Check-in/Security
My friend and I got to the festival pretty early, so lines were short and it was a painless process. We had just come from brunch, where I had informed her that she was supposed to print her ticket (as opposed to being able to scan from her phone). So after brunch we ran around finding a copy shop to print her ticket before getting on the subway to Citi Field. When we arrived at Citi Field we were pleased to see the ticket scanners turning away someone who did not print her ticket, informing her she had to go over to the will call/box office area to handle it there. Schadenfreude, perhaps, but our effort was worth it.

Crowd
As an all genres festival, this was a pretty standard NYC crowd, which is to say it had a wide age range and diverse attire, as opposed to the sparkle bras and furry leg warmers that I see at electronic festivals like Electric Zoo. It was a chilly, Autumn day and I saw very few people who were underdressed. There were maybe a few more high school kids than I would have liked, but overall, no one was obnoxious. Hoo to the ray.

Fun Stuff
Meadows was light on festival extras, which I didn’t find surprising but I think it’s pretty ballsy to bill themselves as a “music and arts festival” when the art component is pretty weaksauce. There were a few small upright panels with some graffiti on them, I guess to give that “city” vibe? Eh. I didn’t mind, I was just there for the music anyway (it’s not like this is Electric Forest). Not directly part of the festival, but one of the advertisers was walking around with huge Kanye and Kim heads, and that was just awesome.

kanye

Water
Since this festival took place in October, water wasn’t quite as important as it was during summer festivals. I filled my water bottle up at the beginning of the day (no line), and it basically lasted me through the night. They had those high-speed spigots that I love and that honestly probably weren’t used all that much. Thanks, 60 degree temps!

Layout
Gold star to Meadows for being yet another small festival that’s easily walkable. What I found interesting about this one was that all 4 of the stages were basically in the center facing out, and at any given time there were performances only on the 2 stages directly opposite each other – and then they would switch when the sets ended. I was skeptical of all the stages being so close to each other but because they faced away from each other it worked really well.

Transportation
Having a festival at Citi Field meant that the public transportation was on point, because managing large crowds after baseball games is something they already have down pat. Our 7 train going there was pretty empty and the express trains leaving the festival afterward were super efficient. A+.

Price
A little pricey for what it was, but…it’s New York. I expect to overpay for everything here and I had such a great time that I have no regrets. Arriving early meant we took full advantage of the day, but even if we hadn’t, Pretty Lights’s set alone would have been worth it.

Overall, my Meadows experience was far better than I anticipated. The rain forecast proved totally inaccurate, the cold weather wasn’t too bad, and I just had a great time. Meadows, I approve of you.

Electric Zoo: The Music (Year 2!)

I think everyone knows the drill by now. Don’t forget to read about the EZoo experience over here, and let’s get down to business.

G Jones
I arrived at EZoo just in time to catch G Jones. If you don’t know G Jones, here’s the main thing you need to know about him: the bass is so heavy that if you try to record any video on your phone, it sounds like this: WUB WUB SCRATCHY SCRATCHY WUB. Totally impossible. But so fun.

Flux Pavilion
Flux was one of the first electronic artists I ever listened to, back when I had no idea about genres and just started listening to random artists from all across the board. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him and while I don’t listen to much dubstep anymore, nostalgia will always make go to his sets (plus, he’s great). 

Carnage
My friend and I snaked our way in through the crowd to get pretty close for this one, and I made us leave 10 minutes later because it was boring. Nope.

Datsik
The Hilltop tent had about 1000% humidity during this set, but it was so fun I didn’t even care. I nearly lost my mind when he started playing Pretty Lights because Datsik is so heavy and PL is so not, until I remembered that this remix is an official thing that exists and I shouldn’t have been surprised by it (whoops). 

Bassnectar
The last Nectar set I saw was so disappointing, I was happy that I didn’t repeat that experience. This set started off so mellow but it picked up in intensity and got to the head bangy level you expect from him. 

Hermitude
I didn’t really know much about Hermitude aside from this one song of theirs that Flume remixes and which I heard nearly every artist play on the first day of EZoo. They had adorable Australian accents and were more chill than I expected them to be, in a good way. I’m not being entirely fair to them by posting the Flume remix here but..it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 

Goldfish
I LOVE GOLDFISH. They’re so fun and so talented with their many instruments.  Their street team handed out cardboard goldfish and we waved those fish in the a-yer, waved them like we just didn’t ca-yer. 

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Big Gigantic
Hey, have you guys ever heard me talk about this band? No? YES YOU HAVE I TALK ABOUT THEM ALL THE TIME. Big G just released a new album and hearing the new stuff live for the first time was incredible. This was my favorite Big G set ever, ever, ever. 

Polish Ambassador
My first time seeing Polish live and it was the BEST. I had no idea that he wears a crazy jumpsuit and otherwise just has so much great energy. A+ must see again. This set was such a nice way to cool down after the insanity of Big G. It was also sort of nice that the tent completely emptied out because everyone wanted to go see Porter Robinson or Steve Aoki, which is SUCH A MISTAKE because Polish is so much better. But whatevs.  

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I’m sure EZoo will draw me in again next year, so, until then!

Electric Zoo: The Experience (Year 2!)

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Ah, EZoo. Both the love and bane of New York City over Labor Day weekend. While I have never gone for all 3 days of the festival (or even all 2 during the 2 years when the final day was canceled), this was my fourth (!) year attending at least one day of the zoo, so I feel like a pro by now.  Just like with Mysteryland, this is my second year posting about Electric Zoo. Continuity!

Check-In/Security
Pretty standard for a festival at this point, now that they’ve recovered fully from the year 2 people died and they no longer borderline assault you as you enter. My friend had eye drops in her purse and they actually made her put the drops in her eyes to prove they were real, and my other friend had not one, but two lip glosses taken. But overall, not too bad.

The Crowd
Do you love butts? Then you’d love the zoo. I try not to judge people on their outfits but there were so many butts hanging out of shorts I just couldn’t handle it. I’m so glad I did not come of age in the era of shorts-that-are-smaller-than-underwear. Otherwise, though, the zoo had the standard kind of obnoxious crowd that it always does. Maybe slightly more well-behaved than usual, even. Zoo people are not really my people but I can certainly hang with them for a few days.

Fun Stuff
The zoo theme always runs rampant at EZoo (obviously), and I like the animal-themed stages and art. Electric Zoo isn’t rife with fun stuff the way other festivals are with their rides or other interactive elements, but hey, you don’t go to festivals to ride the ferris wheel anyway. Unless you do, in which case, might I suggest an actual amusement park.

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Water
One water station had a crazy line, but the other did not. Water was not a problem, and I was a happy camper.

Layout
EZoo is a small festival, which I love. My main problem with the layout is that one of their stages is basically a huge tent, though not nearly huge enough for the crowds. Because the zoo is so small, if you leave the tent you can’t really hear the music from inside, only from the main stage, which isn’t too far away. But there are so many people that it is legitimately kind of hard sometimes to get into the tent. They need more space, somehow.

Transportation
As I always do with Randall’s Island, I forgo paying for a ferry or bus and walk across the 125th St. bridge because it’s free and there’s no line. This year, I accidentally went home over the 103rd St. bridge, which was fairly empty and really beautiful. It was such a nice, peaceful walk that it was a strange, sudden change from the craziness of the festival. I will probably never intentionally do this walk again because it’s much easier to get home from the express trains at 125th street, but I was happy to have stumbled upon it accidentally.

Price
I got a free VIP upgrade one of the days this year, and the other day I went through Jukely, so I cannot complain about ticket price. What I can complain about, and which I also complained about last year, is the “EZ Bucks” cashless payment system. You load money onto your wristband, which EZoo conveniently changes into a different currency to disguise that they’re ripping you off ($20 = 9 EZ Bucks). You then pay an exorbitant amount of money for food and drinks, i.e. a beer for 5 EZ Bucks, which, when you include tip, is around $11. Then, if you have any money left over on your wristband at the end, they return that amount to your credit card MINUS a $5 fee, just for good measure.

Such a ripoff. Boooo hiss.

(I really do love EZoo though, despite this. Maybe because I get to see some of my favorite artists so close to home.)

Next up: music recap!