Live Music Should Not Sound Like the Album

There are many benefits to seeing music live over just listening to recordings. The energy of a crowd; the added depth of live instrumentation; the thrill of seeing a person or band you admire in the flesh.

One of the best things about live music, in my opinion, is something that not everyone agrees upon, and that is the ability to hear a new twist on songs you already love. Sure, “new twist” sounds like something everyone would be excited about, until you realize just how much people get attached to a specific version of a specific song. I’m guilty of this too, sometimes. One example that comes to mind is Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” The first hundred or so times I heard this song it was on one particular radio station that always played it as a somewhat upbeat, dancey track. It wasn’t until months later that I heard the “real” version, which is much slower and folksier. I spent far too long trying to locate the exact version that I knew and loved from the radio, but magically every other remix available on the internet is not the right one. “Take Me To Church” isn’t current enough to be on the radio all that much now, and I don’t even listen to that station anymore, so I will likely never hear it the “right” way ever again. Despite this, if I ever saw Hozier live I’d probably be pretty psyched to hear it, in whatever form it should take.

But over the course of my concert-going years I’ve heard some genuine displeasure about artists not playing songs the way people were used to hearing them. Typically this happens with top 40 tracks, the kind you hear all the time, everywhere, for maybe 6 weeks straight. The kind of track where most people at the concert are probably really only there for that one song because it’s so much unarguably bigger than any of the artist’s other songs (the kind of song that “Take Me To Church” is, to be honest). But it can happen with any artist, or any song.

I do not understand this logic. I love hearing my favorite songs live and I love hearing how the artist has expanded on their previous vision to create something new and fresh. Maybe they just changed the harmonies, maybe they added a part for a new instrument that wasn’t originally there, or maybe it’s adding a new verse or changing up some lyrics. Even if I don’t think the new version is better, I pretty much always appreciate being present for the evolution. The only exception is when the artist severely shortens a song I love. Snippets make me sad.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over the last few days; or rather, I’ve been thinking a lot about the reverse of this topic, because I haven’t been thinking about maintaining the purity of songs in the form that I know them, but about how excited and #blessed I have felt to get to hear a new take on songs I already love.

I’ve written about my love of Odesza many times on this blog, and yet again was #blessed (hard for me to use this word seriously) to get to see them twice last week. Out of all the artists I’ve seen, they’re probably the most prolific remixers of their own music. The live adaptations of some of their songs blow me away, and not only do I not care when the song doesn’t go in the direction I was expecting, it delights me. My favorite video that I’ve ever taken at a show (to be fair, I don’t take many and they’re all terrible, including this one) was from Odesza’s set at Panorama last year. I only captured about 20 seconds of a song I happen to love, but they surprised me by adding a new drop and you can hear my voice in the background go, “WHAAAAAAAT” and then cackle out of shock and joy. Sadly everything got deleted from my phone back in March so I don’t have the video anymore,  but I’ve heard the live version of that song many times since Panorama and that one moment still makes me scream and laugh, in that order.

They’re hardly the only artist to do this – Gramatik, who I’ve also written about many times, plays a live version of “Illusion of Choice” that has an insane new violin sample that slays me every time.

I will allow that everyone who chooses to experience live music does it for a different reason. But music isn’t just about the consumer, it’s also, of course, about the artist. If switching up a song gives me a teeny tiny bit more insight into the brain of a musician I love? Amazing. Does it hopefully also make playing the same song over and over on tour more palatable to the artist who is probably very sick of it? All the better. It gives me endless joy to go to a concert and see that the person performing loves their own music just as much as I do; it’s why it makes me so happy when producers dance around on stage as they’re working. What remixing your own music says to me is, “I made this song and I still love it so much I’m going to keep working on it and innovating and having fun with it.”

I don’t get upset if a live performance sounds like the album – after all, if I didn’t like the album, I wouldn’t have paid money to see those songs live. But getting to experience some new twists and turns makes the experience fuller and so much more gratifying.

*One semi-unrelated side note to close out this post – I actually did have the opportunity to see Hozier live yesterday at Boston Calling. But his set was at the exact same time as Odesza. For a teeny tiny split second during my festival planning I thought about trying to catch the last 10 minutes of Hozier because a) I was sure he’d play “Take Me To Church” toward the end, and b) I had juuuust seen Odesza live. But I never seriously considered it because…I mean there’s just no way I can miss an Odesza set. I’ll get taken to church another time.

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I’m Running for Mayor of Musictown

Hello everyone, my name is Arielle and I’m running for mayor of Musictown.

Musictown is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I imagine the same is true for many of you. It’s a magical city where some of our most precious and joyful memories lie; where we forge soulful connections with others, experience powerful emotions, and, well, where we have a lot of fun.

I had always been a frequent visitor to Musictown, until about 6 years ago when I moved here for good. In that time I’ve been to nearly 500 shows, in the largest of stadiums and in venues that were basically just a small stage in an alleyway. I’ve been in an audience of 5 and an audience of 50,000. I’ve given my heart, soul, and wallet to this city, and I truly do not know what the last few years of my life would have been like without it.

Life in Musictown is one sparked with passion. But this city of dancing and singing and clapping and celebrating, while it brings so much light to so many people, that light is not without darkness. I’ve spent 5 of my 6 years in Musictown taking copious notes on my experiences here. I’ve jotted down my thoughts about what works and what doesn’t, what I hate and what I love. But over the years I’ve also spoken with many of you, my fellow music lovers, trying to understand what elements of our wonderful city help instill meaning in your lives, and where the pain points are. I’ve chatted with you not through official interviews, but through informal conversation relaxing at our campsites at music festivals or while in line for coat check at a show. I’ve spoken with you not because I knew I wanted to run for office someday – in fact, I began these conversations long before I even knew that Musictown had a mayor. I’ve spoken with you because you, like me, understand, seek, and crave that feeling of pure bliss that only comes with seeing incredible live music in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. When the stars align and your experience feels so perfect as to be transcendent. I’ve spoken with you because music is what we love, and sometimes we just don’t want to talk about anything else.

This is why I want to be the mayor of Musictown. I want to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to improve upon those pieces of the live music experience that are less than ideal. To make it easier for all of us to achieve the perfect, hassle-free concert experience.

I have many ideas about how Musictown can be improved. I won’t bore you with all of them today, but here are a few.

As some of you know, my first inclination to run for mayor of Musictown came about when I expressed that every show – no matter how large or small – should publish set times in advance. I still stand by this. Our time is valuable, and I firmly believe that we should be able to plan our evenings accordingly. Many concerts have relatively predictable timing, but others do not. Some venues open their doors at 10pm and the headliners don’t come on until 2am. Those same venues will, on rare occasion, bring the headliner on at midnight. Being forced to guess at possible set times is frustrating. People need the power to make informed concert-going decisions, and I plan to work for full set-time transparency. For all shows.

Even more important than transparency at shows, however, is safety. If elected mayor, I plan to implement a number of measures to ensure that concert-goers have a safe and comfortable experience.

First, I want to see ear plugs for sale at all music venues. Citizens, I cannot force you to wear ear plugs, though I strongly encourage them and you will never see me at a show without mine. But for those moments where the volume is just a bit louder than you’d like, you should always be able to purchase a pair of single-use, foam earplugs for a dollar. I’ve had friends leave shows because they were too loud. This should never happen to anyone.

Next, I believe that all concert venues should have free water. They may also choose to sell bottled water if they wish, but there must be a water fountain or cooler available. Water is a critical component of concert safety, particularly at outdoor summer events or very crowded indoor events. No one should be forced to pay $5 for a bottle of water just to avoid passing out from dehydration and overheating.

The final change I hope to implement to enhance concert-goer safety is to do a thorough investigation into each venue’s maximum capacity and, where necessary, lower it. I have definitely been to shows where people appear to be packed in far beyond what could possibly be legally permitted, and I’m sure you can think of a few as well. Choosing to go up to the front of a show and be in the thick of a crowd is one thing, but being unable to even lift your arms anywhere in an entire venue is another. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s not fun. Every live music event should have ample open space in the back for those who need a little more room to breathe or dance.

There are tons of other issues I hope to tackle in my time as mayor: ticket scalping, improving security screenings, and increasing the number of women’s restrooms, to name a few. But before I leave you, I want to share with you one of my more innovative ideas, to hopefully demonstrate that I’m a creative thinker willing to take risks on your behalf.

If elected mayor of Musictown, I plan to implement a pilot program to test the feasibility of having a 25+ section at select venues or shows. Those of you who, like me, are on the slightly older side of full-time Musictown residents may agree that sometimes it’s difficult to be around a group of teenagers. Allowing attendees to opt in to being around people closer to their own age has the potential to improve the concert-going experience for everyone. I plan to conduct a number of focus groups to collect ideas before the pilot goes into effect, so if you’d like to share your thoughts on this plan, please be in touch! My door is always open – not just for this issue, but any other issue that may arise. Because, as mayor, I will be your representative. And I want to know what I can do to to help.

I hope that I have your vote, and I hope to see you out on the dance floor.

This post inspired by this tweet:

Minus Zero: The Experience

FESTIVAL SEASON IS UPON US! (Kind of.)

This past weekend I attended my first festival of 2018 – Minus Zero in Mount Snow, Vermont. Despite the fact that coldness is implied in the name, AND it’s billed as a “winter sports and music festival,” I still managed to be surprised that the temperature was predicted to drop to a low of about 15 throughout the weekend. I was pretty nervous as I packed every long-sleeved shirt and other warm item that I own into a giant suitcase, but, as festivals are wont to do, it turned out to be a fantastic weekend. In fact, it was one of the most well-produced festivals I’ve ever been to. Here’s the lowdown:

Check-In/Security
There’s no camping at Minus Zero for obvious reasons, so my friend and I just drove up to our hotel on Friday afternoon. No waiting in hours-long lines to get your car searched for 20 seconds. The actual festival gate security went really quickly and I think we never waited in line for longer than 10 minutes. On day 1, two separate security guards told me that the gate people wouldn’t let me in with my string backpack because they weren’t letting in bags of that size. I don’t understand this because my backpack is smaller than a Camelbak (which are allowed). They did let me in, but I decided not to risk it on days 2 and 3 and went, for the first time ever, without any type of bag. It was a strange and freeing experience and also a fun exercise in trying to find as many pockets as I could in my winter coat to keep my phone, wallet, chapstick, etc. safe.

The Crowd
You have to be at least a little nuts to want to go to a music festival in the winter (technically it was April, but if it’s snowing, I’m calling it winter), and I think this really weeded out anyone who was anything less than super cool and extremely laid back. Everyone I met was incredibly nice, and the last day of the festival in particular had the absolute, hands-down, no exaggeration best festival crowd I’ve ever been a part of. The music was dark and heavy (more on the music in my next post) yet the energy was really joyful. The artists even commented on it. The cold temperatures gave everyone the opportunity to break out their fuzzy animal onesies, which was a nice touch. Here I am in a penguin onesie sitting in an inexplicably large chair.

penguin

Fun Stuff
If you ski or snowboard, I imagine having that as an option for a daytime activity is pretty sweet. My friend and I opted to sit in our hotel and watch TV. There aren’t really any other activities at Minus Zero in the way some festivals have, BUT the ski resort location meant we could enjoy sit down meals (!) while watching little dots of people through the window making their way down the mountain. There was live painting and other art displayed, as well as a stage at the top of the ski lift in case you either a) ski or b) wanted to head to the festival at 5:30am for an exclusive sunrise set only available to the first 150 people to get on the lift. Hard pass on both accounts, thank you.

Water
The ski lodge had free water and cups! One major benefit to hosting a festival at a “real” location, instead of turning an empty plot of land into a small city for a weekend. Seeing as Minus Zero was about 70 degrees colder than normal festivals I think water was a little less of a concern for most people, but heading into the lodge after the headliner was done each night to down some water and not have to pay $6 or wait in an insane line to refill a bottle for free was incredible (especially because I had to leave my bottle in the hotel room when I stopped bringing a backpack).

Layout
While this was not the smallest festival I’ve ever attended people-wise, it was absolutely the smallest festival surface area-wise. Not counting the stage at the top of the ski lift (because it was really only for people to check out briefly before skiing down the mountain), you could walk from one end of the festival to the other in…3 minutes? There was the lodge, the main stage, and a barn with another stage. And that was kind of it. It was tiny, and after attending so many festivals where I had to walk 20 minutes in between sets, I felt spoiled.

I will say, regarding the layout, that while the barn stage was cool and slightly warmer than the outdoors, the enclosed structure meant that capacity was limited. I never had a problem with this, but they had Claude Von Stroke (who is kiiind of a big deal) playing in that barn and there was a line that wrapped around the entire building. If I went all the way to Vermont to see an artist and couldn’t even get in to the stage to see him, I’d have been pretty pissed.

Transportation
Our hotel was a short walk to the festival grounds, but there was a free shuttle that ran every 15 minutes through the surrounding area, picking people up from various hotels and dropping them off at the festival. My friend and I chose our hotel specifically because we had a heinous VIP-to-GA shuttle experience at Electric Forest last year and wanted to avoid having to rely on one in the future. So as we walked to Minus Zero and yelled, “FUCK SHUTTLES! WE’RE NEVER TAKING A SHUTTLE EVER AGAIN!”, the shuttle appeared out of nowhere, pulled up next to us, and the driver asked if we wanted to get on for the rest of the way. We did.

Price
So cheap! I think my tier 1 ticket cost around $120, What we saved in ticket costs we ended up spending on splitting a hotel room that could have fit 4 between 2 people. But, whatever. Worth it.

Bathrooms
Because I was staying in a hotel and because they had the indoor ski lodge, I never set foot in a port-a-potty all weekend!!!!!!!! I use excess exclamation points to convey exactly how legendary this is. Again, I just feel so spoiled.

Misc.
Everything about Minus Zero was just so well done. The acts all started on time, the visuals of the main stage were next level, and I loved that there were no breaks between acts with the exception of a 15-20 minute break before the headliner each night. The sound system was probably one of the best I’ve ever heard, in that they could pump the music up loud and it didn’t hurt your ears – I always wear ear plugs at shows because not only is it a good idea, but after years of wearing them I have a pretty low tolerance for crazy loud music. The music at Minus Zero almost never bothered me before I put my ear plugs in, which was a first. Every artist on day 3 had seriously heavy bass and it didn’t sound at all scratchy.

The cold, while certainly not my favorite thing, wasn’t all that bad thanks to many layers and body heat from the crowd (plus, the falling snow made the lasers look like glitter!). As much as I had been dreading spending a “springtime” weekend in below freezing temperatures, I loved the whole thing and would 100% go back again.

Should Live Music Be Epic or Should it Be Accessible?

Emotions are flying high in my little corner of the music community. The cause? A brand new, Pretty Lights-curated festival called Island of Light.

Island of Light is an all-inclusive, 4-day music-and-sun-and-luxury experience taking place this December in Puerto Rico. In addition to 3 sets of Pretty Lights with a live band, it boasts a lineup that is, for lack of a better word, incredible. It features a main stage on a private island that one can access only by boat. Poolside sets. Buffets. Drinks. Imagine going to a beautiful island resort and hearing your favorite music while catching some sun with thousands of people who either are, or could be, your close friends. People are pumped. Nay, ecstatic.

Yet Island of Light has made many hearts sink.  The reason being, of course, that when you factor in a flight on top of the ticket price (the all-inclusive part is not optional), it’s going to run attendees a minimum of $2,000.

Another recent Pretty Lights announcement has also led to some disappointment, albeit less. This summer, for the first time ever, PL will play at the astoundingly beautiful Gorge Amphitheater in Washington. This breathtaking yet somewhat inaccessible venue is a mere $500+ flight from New York City, so it took me (and others) just a few short minutes to go from “errr I probably can’t make this but let me at least think about it” to “WOMP.”

The Gorge

If you’re familiar with Pretty Lights, you know that over the last few years he has forgone the traditional multi-city tour in favor of fewer, yet more finely produced and curated weekend-long events, in addition to the standard annual slew of festival sets. While this is a huge bonus for those who live closer to the action – Colorado in particular is lucky enough to always have a Red Rocks show, and in both 2015 and 2016 had an additional weekend in Telluride just a few weeks later. Prior to the Gorge and Puerto Rico announcements, Telluride was unofficially considered the “premiere” Pretty Lights event. I was sadly never able to attend.

I was, however, fortunate to see Pretty Lights 3 times in 2016:

  • Night 2 of his weekend in New Hampshire (a 5 hour drive away, the closest of his weekend-long stops)
  • Meadows Festival in the Citi Field parking lot
  • New Year’s Eve 2-night run in New Orleans

Ask most PL fans to rank those and while you may have some debate between New Hampshire and New Orleans at the top, Meadows would almost certainly consistently come in third.

If I had to repeat any of those experiences, though, I would choose Meadows. There would not even be a close second. It’s not because I didn’t love NH or NOLA (I did). It’s not because the music was so much better at Meadows (it wasn’t, though it certainly wasn’t worse either). It’s because going to New Hampshire and New Orleans involved stressing over who my crew was, where I was sleeping, how much things cost, how I would get there, and a host of other stressful and expensive details.

When my friend and I went to Meadows back in October, we took ourselves out to a delicious brunch, hopped on the subway for the festival, danced all day, and hopped on the subway home.

There was no stress. I did not have to pack a suitcase or get on a plane. If my friend had dropped out of our plans, I would have gone anyway and had a great time without having to scramble for a replacement.

Such is the benefit of seeing live music in your own city. It’s easy. What you get out of it is lightyears beyond what you put into it.

Was Meadows an “epic” Pretty Lights set? I suppose not, compared with Telluride or New Orleans (where there was a WATERFALL on stage). But it was one of my favorite PL sets ever. I was in a great mood because I saw so much other fantastic music that day and the rain that was forecast for the day had magically held off. I was with one of my closest friends seeing one of our favorite artists and while it may not have been EPIC it was still incredible. No waterfall needed.

I love memorable experiences, I truly do. My one trip to the Red Rocks to see PL 2 summers ago is a life highlight for me. I crave the rush that comes with unique outings, which is why I’m excited to return to Electric Forest this year and which is why I chase every weird or fun event that exists here in New York. But there comes a time when I have to draw the line, when I have to say that something, even the most potentially thrilling event of them all, may very well not be worth the time and money that has to go into it. In this regard, I’m almost lucky. Because I can afford Island of Light – it would sting pretty badly, sure, but I could do it. I’m just opting not to because I know it’s not the wisest of decisions. Many other fans aren’t as lucky. They can’t even entertain the idea of going.

For me, this raises a question – to an artist, what is the value gained in creating memorable, unique experiences for fans at the expense of alienating so many others? If The Gorge or Island of Light were one option amidst other opportunities to see Pretty Lights at smaller shows with a lower production value, I think a lot of people would feel less upset at not being able to go. Because when it comes down to it, seeing an “average” (yet still awesome) set from your favorite artist is better than not seeing him at all. But with fewer, more expensive shows, many fans are precluded from being able to attend any shows at all.

Perhaps living in New York has spoiled me in that I’m so used to every artist stopping through here on their tours. Not only that, but they’re excited about it, because it’s NEW YORK. Sure, I choose to travel for music all the time, but until now I’ve never been forced to. If I want to see Pretty Lights this year, I have to leave the state. If I want to see Pretty Lights in an event that is not just any ol’ festival set, that is the result of an outpouring of creative energy and hard work and that Derek would probably look at it and say, “this is my baby,” I have to travel over 1,000 miles and spend over $1,000.

I would never want an artist to do anything other than express what’s in their soul. I firmly believe that you have to follow the path of your creativity, and I know this is something that music fans – or film fans – or whatever fans – don’t always like. When someone you admire takes their art in a new direction that you no longer enjoy, it sucks. But you must allow them to do what they want to do. Or need to do.

But you know what else sucks? Feeling excluded from something that once felt universal and open. No one should consider putting themselves into major credit card debt just to see live music (I have seen this). No one should consider skipping a friend’s wedding so they’d have more vacation time to allot to Pretty Lights shows (I have seen this too). Live music is a joyful experience that should be available to anyone who wants it. Luxury experiences – the EPIC ones to write home about – those can stay too. But there should be options at a variety of price points and locations.

Music can – and should – be both epic and accessible. Even if it’s not always at the same time.

2016, By the Numbers

It’s the most, wonderful tiiiiiime of the year! The time where I look at all my concert statistics from the previous year and geek out excitedly over trends, anomalies, and all that fun stuff. So without further ado, here are my year-over-year deets! (Hopefully this is legible)

stats

Here are some interesting things I noticed about this year’s numbers:

  • I went to fewer shows this year but totally kicked ass on getting free/super cheap tickets
  • Even though I paid greater than face for more shows this year, this is almost entirely due to Jukely. For example, let’s say I used my $35 monthly Jukely membership for 2 different shows in a given month. I would write the cost as $17.50 per show, but one of those shows could have had a face value of $10. That looks like a loss, even if the other show had a face value of $80 and so clearly I still came out on top for the month.
  • Insert praise hands emoji here for finally having Webster Hall not be my #1 venue (I love you, Brooklyn Bowl)

And as in previous years, here are some of my favorite post-show comments from my tracking spreadsheet:

“Robotaki was pretty solid deep house (did I just say that?)”

“TECHNICAL PROBLEMS JESUS.”

“The opening chick was a little weird with her body slapping and her tap dancing.”

“He’s so small and old. Good times though, fun and polite crowd.” (Paul Simon!)

“Bleep Bloop hahah”

“Robby Krieger looks so damn frail it’s crazy to watch him shred the guitar.”

“This was the Brooklyniest party pretty much ever.”

“Also, I think he’s Benjamin Button” (Billie Joe Armstrong)

“They had an inflatable dragon!? Like…what.” (Beats Antique)

“It was kind of funk-house, which is a new genre I made up.”

Elements: The Music

I can’t believe I didn’t write about Elements last year! No recaps! Shame on me.

Now in its second year, BangOn!NYC’s Elements Music and Arts Festival is legitimately one of my favorite NYC events of the summer. It’s a one-day festival (maybe that’s why I chose not to write about it) that takes place next to an abandoned warehouse in Brooklyn. It’s dirty in the coolest possible way and I had so much fun last year and so much fun this year and man, is it really a year until I get to go again? Sigh.

With 5 stages there’s a ton of music to choose from, but if you saw this lineup at all you know that I mostly went for my main man Gramatik. But all the other music was wonderful too! Let’s discuss.

Bleep Bloop
Let’s just revel in the name Bleep Bloop for a second. What a perfect name for almost any electronic music producer, amirite? I keep accidentally typing it as “Bleep Blop” which is also great. Man, what a world we live in. Here’s some Bleep Bloop trap stuff. This is the kind of thing I wouldn’t really listen to at home but is so fun to get down to outdoors. 

 

Sweater Beats
This guy is 17 years old! You know what I was doing at 17 years old? Getting excited if my high school volleyball coach started me in one of our games, most of which we lost because my volleyball team wasn’t that good. This, plus the whole Olympics thing going on right now, makes me feel inadequate as a person. But anyway, he was great and I wonder if they let him drink the boozy seltzers that were in the artists lounge since he’s not even close to being of legal drinking age. I know every EDM fan loves a good bass drop and I suppose I’m no different because he had some great ones. 

 

Opiuo
I love Opiuo! Who doesn’t? He played my favorite track off his new album and it made me the happiest girl in all the land. I know most of the people reading this probably don’t listen to the tracks I post but if you’re going to listen to one song in this list, listen to this one.

 

Ghastly
I remember turning to my friend and asking who was playing at the time, but I didn’t remember what the sound was like until just now when I checked out his Soundcloud. Ghastly is some screechy dubstep. This would definitely also fall under “music I wouldn’t listen to at home but is fun at festivals.”

 

Gramatik
If ever there are artists that I just stop blogging about because I already talk about them too much, Gramatik will 100% be on that list. This set just made me so happy, and the icing on the cake was that earlier in the day I ran into Gibbz, who was there to play guitar and do vocals for Gramatik. I specifically requested that they play their version of “Kiss” by Prince, which they did, and it was wonderful. I assumed they were already supposed to play it, but Gibbz later told me that they played it BECAUSE I ASKED. If you think I’m telling this story because it makes me feel cool, you’re right. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to feel cool, so let me have this moment. 

In this sadly brief video you can also see how cool the Elements main stage was.

Those are the highlights! Stay tuned for the logistics post and also an “official” recap from my duties over a Mix 247 EDM!

Farm Fest: The Music

One week ago I was at itty bitty Farm Fest, sitting under my canopy for the last time and dreading going home to the real world. I already wrote all about the Farm Fest logistics, so now let’s get down to the important stuff: the music.

Like at any festival, there was a mix of old favorites and new discoveries. Here are the highlights:

Soohan
I fell in love with Soohan when I discovered his remix of the Inspector Gadget theme song, which somehow is both hip hop-y and…ethereal. Farm was my first time seeing him live, and it was as great as I thought it would be.

 

The Widdler
I had never heard of this act before, but in the hours leading up to it it seemed like the entire festival was anticipating his performance. This is usually a pretty good indicator of something awesome, and it was. This short demo song I found is a perfect example of bass music that’s perfect for a small festival in that it’s still sort of mellow and doesn’t make you want to go too wild (one of my main complaints I heard throughout Farm was that the music – which we could easily hear from our campsites – was way too heavy for the chill environment).

 

The Floozies
I’ve talked about these guys so many times on this blog. They are always fantastic, and it was particularly great dancing to this funky set with my feet in the lake. After the 95 degree day, it was cool and refreshing.

 

Krooked Drivers
This duo-turned-solo-act is one I hadn’t seen before so I was really looking forward to it. It was funky and soulful and glitchy and wonderful.

 

Modern Measure
Easily the best new discovery of Farm Fest for me. I had heard this name before but knew nothing about this band. It reminded me a little of Emancipator in its weird combination of upbeat and mellowness.

 

Emancipator
You may recall that I saw Emancipator just last month at Mysteryland, and I found it a total buzz kill. The whole audience’s energy seemed to die during this set at ML and I said that Emancipator should never play at night. Well, they played at night at Farm and for some reason, it just worked. It was so perfect for the beachy setting.

 

Liquid Stranger
This was another one that the whole festival seemed to be buzzing about yet I really had no idea of what to expect. Like a lot of the music at this festival, his stuff was chock fulla bass. What I found most impressive was that he opened and closed his set by rapping, though he didn’t talk at all during. So it was cool and totally unexpected (plus, he’s crazy talented).

 

And thus concludes my recaps of the only camping festival I will attend this summer. So sad.