Festival Review:

Catskill Chill Music Festival

September 23-25, 2016

New Minglewood, Lakewood, PA

Photos by Amanda Sandwicch

Written by Amanda Sandwicch and Pete DeStefano

I arrived to my fifth Catskill Chill, my favorite festival, and the best festival, on Thursday September 24th. Relocated from one summer camp in Hancock, NY, to another about 20 minutes away in Lakewood, PA, Catskill Chill is an annual end of summer music festival held September 23rd-25th, bringing together a “Chill Fam” that numbers in the thousands.

Marisa Figueroa and Craig Brodhead of Turkuaz

New Minglewood,” the new venue, was great. Everything was nice and close together. Nothing was a far walk, and although there was a hill to get to the main stage, it wasn’t nearly as bad as all the hills at Old Minglewood where you had to walk both uphill and downhill to get anywhere from any location. There were two loops of cabins with tent camping in the middle and the surrounding areas. Both loops were located in areas very close to the stages. Nothing was a far walk, even with 15 pounds of camera gear.

I really liked that they added Thursday. I never wanted to leave the original Minglewood, and the addition of Thursday helped ease the transition into a new space. I set up in the Camp Circle Jerk Cabin, or D12 as others may know it. We, like everyone else camped in our loop, could hear the B stage from our porch and that was fantastic. I especially liked this because I could hear my favorite band, Aqueous, who kicked off the festival, sound checking shortly after I arrived.  One of New Minglewood’s best qualities is the convenience of parking. Our cabin was a short distance from where we parked, and the stages were short distances from our cabin – perfect.

Aqueous opened the festival with a stellar performance on the B stage, followed by Jimkata, then 2 sets of Twiddle. The highlight of Twiddle’s performance was when Scott Hannay of Mister F sat on on keys. He later sat in with ShwizZ. The B stage, which is a roller hockey rink, is perfect for gliding on Razor scooters while enjoying the music. Next to the B stage is a basketball court where people danced, chilled, and rolled around on scooters during the more crowded sets. After Twiddle closed out the B stage, music continued in Club Chill with TRAKSTAR, which consists of Rob Chafin of the Werks on drums and sunglasses, and Todd Stoops on keys and dance moves. They both wear Track suits, hence the clever name. Mike Gantzer and Evan McPhaden of Aqueous and Hayley Jane sat in. It was a fun that got nice and weird.

There are many things I loved about Chill, in particular the weather. The heat of summer was over, and although it gets cold at night, being prepared makes you comfortable. A Wild Czarmandar Sandwicch is always prepared.  And a bonus – no rain this year! Musically, Chill is a reliable summer top off festival for dance, funk, and jam fanatics. Dylan Smith of Callicoon, NY, who has attended all 7 Catskill Chills said, “It’s a real honor witnessing and being a part of such a fantastic community of music lovers,” and he’s right! It’s been a special experience for me as well.

There has always been room for acoustic music at Chill, but this year it had a greater headlining presence including Dead tribute set Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass and Greensky Bluegrass to name a couple. While mainstays like Electron, Dopapod, and Lettuce returned for 2016, it would appear that George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and Mike Gordon left no room for other Chill regulars like Lotus. Luckily, Mike Greenfield still got to play because Electron. With what seemed like more than their average amount acoustic sets this year, it’s hard to believe they didn’t bring back Consider the Source for their traditional Catskill presence, a far out acoustic set in the daytime and a crazily heavy electric set at night.

Catskill is also well known for its collaboration and tribute sets, which have become a cornerstone of their lineup. This year was no different, including Pink Talking Fu’s Prince & Bowie tribute, lespecial’s Primus tribute, Elise Testone’s Zeppelin tribute, The Heavy Pets 80’s tribute, Shwikus Plays the Beatles, and Dopakuaz’s Yacht Rock set. I’m always most excited for what ShwizZ and FiKus have in store for us with their tributes as ShwiKus.

The tribute set that stood out the most was undoubtedly lespecial Plays Primus. They’re experts at playing Primus perfectly while adding their own characteristics in subtle ways, truly epitomizing what it is to actually pay tribute to other artists. Fans unanimously agreed that their cover of the South Park theme song was incredible. To top it off, Dopapod’s Neal ‘Fro’ Evans launched what must be Catskill Chill’s first mosh pit early in the set. Those are the sorts of surprises for which real Chill Fam attend year after year – the chance to rage with a headlining drummer who recently triumphantly returned to his band and is out riding the rail, supporting his best friends while they slay.

A few of Friday’s high points were right around sunset. Mister F kicked off the DC Corner with a set that some have told me was their favorite of the weekend, and Primate Fiasco unleashed one of their signature second-line style jams, taking the music off the stage and to the people. Strange Machines followed Primate in Club Chill with Aaron Hagele sitting in on percussion for the entire set. Aaron also sat in with ShwizZ, The Magic Beans, The Werks, and Partiwerks, all while working 20 hours a day as on site artist transportation director. He is the only person to have worked at every Catskill Chill and played in all except for the first, playing with his own band and sitting in with many others.

Later, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic’s set on the main stage brought the funk into 2016 with plenty of young talent. The first 30 minutes or so was wild and new, followed by classics like “Flashlight” and “Maggot Brain.” Mike Gordon’s set that night was also a great time, especially their “Yarmouth Road” encore. Space Jesus’s set featuring lespecial’s Rory Dolan on drums was not to be missed. Dolan is well known on the scene for collaborating with such super groups as Supersillyus Life Band and Shlang Worldwide Secret Band, among others, but his work with Space Jesus is absolutely bonkers and fantastic. The Indobox closed out the night with a great performance complete with brightly colored projections in Club Chill.

Chuck Jones of Dopapod

Lots of people made it out to Cabinet at 2pm on Saturday, and afterwards both TAUK and ShwiKus Plays the Beatles were fabulous performances. Later on the main stage, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass tribute was a laid back time, while just a short distance away lespecial was tearing the roof off of the new Club Chill with their Primus tribute.The whole time though, everyone was buzzing about what Dopakuaz was going to play because they had no idea what qualifies as yacht rock. Ultimately, people had a great time hearing two of the most talented bands on the line up play kind of old radio music in cheesy boating costumes and mustaches. The set ended with Dopapod bassist Chuck Jones crowdsurfing.

After Dopakuaz, Big Something, who puts on their own festival, The Big What? in North Carolina, played a fire set in Club Chill. Many people were shut out of the Chillfam Allstars play Michael Jackson due to a small capacity of the late night hall, but not to fear, The Magic Beans from Colorado are here! The Beans throw their own their festival, Beanstalk, in Colorado, shredded Club Chill apart with new bassist and Guilderland, NY native Chris Duffy, formerly of Dirty Paris.


Sunday kicked off wild with Bitches Bloom, Eric Benny Bloom of Lettuce’s tribute to Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” on the B Stage while Roosevelt Collier’s NY Get Down shredded the main stage with Eli Winderman and Rob Compa of Dopapod and Michelangelo Carubba and Taylor Shell of Turkuaz. Dopapod’s daytime set was an emotional reunion for some, this being their returning drummer’s first Chill back with the band. I very much enjoyed my 80th Dopapod show. Broccoli Samurai played on the DC corner gaining many new fans, and Perpetual Groove played an amazing set on the B stage. Many people were very happy to see Perpetual Groove back together after a long hiatus. Electron continued their tradition of being headliners for Catskill Chill again, but Break Science Live Band annihilated the B Stage just after. The last night of Chill drew on as the Werks warmed up the Late Night Hall for the oncoming collaboration with Particle as “Partiwerks,” as Pigeons Playing Ping Pong raged on their second set of the day before G-Nome Project finished things up with a much needed dose of incredible and weird.

Last but not least, right after the music ends late Sunday night, we have one of my favorite events of Catskill Chill. My friends in ShwizZ and FiKus hold the annual Franzie awards. This year I won both The Humanitarian Award, and my 5th consecutive Grillmaster title. Chris Houser, Rob Chafin, and Jake “Babyhands” Goldberg, all of The Werks, were present at this year’s ceremony.  Houser states, “The Franzies were my favorite part of this festival season. That was so hilarious.”

Here is a little bit about the history of the Franzie awards:

The Franzies began at All Good Music Festival 2011. After a lengthy weekend of raging, a group of long time friends ended their festivities by celebrating each other’s accomplishments, wonders or blunders that had occurred throughout the weekend. The celebration and speeches were of course kept in order by passing around only the finest of the boxed wines, Franzia.

Now boasting is 5th year ceremony at this year’s Catskill Chill, The Annual Nokia/Verizon Franzie Awards, presented in HD, rivals such events as The Super Bowl and the crowing of the new Pope, as well as featuring notable appearances by celebrity guests like Paulie Shore, Jared Fogle and more. We hope to see YOU at next year’s Franzies.


The 2016 Winner List

Best In Troll – Jenn Murray

For the true rager who stood out the most


Best New Troll – Mike Clapper

For the newest member of the crew who brought it all to the Chill


The Garbage Can Award – Laura Jimenez

Partied harder than any other Troll


The Grillmaster Award – Amanda “Sandwicch” Siedner

Best Chef, her 5th consecutive Grillmaster title


The Siren Award – Alana Kelly

For the secret seductress who captured our attention


The Trollimpian – Frankie Coda

For putting in the man power and hours keeping the jams going


The Globetrotter Award – Erica Joyce / Frazier (Honorable mention to The Werks, drove 24 hours)

Who traveled the farthest to be at Chill


The Humanitarian Award – Amanda “Sandwicch” Siedner

For that friend who is always their in time of need


The Prom King and Queen – Alex & Amber


The Gene Finnegan Memorial Award For Negligent Slumber – Erica Joyce

For sleeping during the Franzies in the Cabin!


The Rip Van Winkle Award – Big Frank Coda Sr.

For finding a way to sleep through our cabin raging on Saturday 


The Bazonga Award – Joanna Burrows

For the greatest tits!


Behind Enemy Lines – Joanna Burrows, Jenn Murray and Laura Jimenez

For getting on stage and dancing with


The First Ever “Shitting In” Award – Ryan Liatsis

For playing percussion at PartiWerks


The Coolest Guy Award – Steve Toth

For being cool…I guess.


Best Pizza

Mike “Pizzasaurusrex” Fleishman


Despite how Catskill Chill always so awesome, there is always room for improvement. This year Club Chill, which was previously my favorite part of Catskill Chill, was lacking in quality of sound. It was too loud and sounded washed out and not clear. There was also a little too much fog in the room making seeing the bands difficult. People were hanging out outside of the room because it sounded better there. A lot of my favorite bands played in Club Chill, and I couldn’t hear the details of their music very well.

What a great way to end my favorite festival! I will always have the memories of moshing at lespecial and seeing my friends from all over. Every year is different and this one held lots of surprises. This year the Catskill Chill brought some of the highest profile headliners so far, and the new venue is gorgeous and not such a workout. The cabin jams remain! PandaJAM kept the jams alive. This, like the old ShwiKus jam cabin, fuels the drive of fans to play the festival and forges special bonds among Chill Fam. Until next year, stay Chill Fam.