Cosmic Campout 2013
Quail Ridge Lake
June 14-15, 2013
Written by Becca Boo Cranwell
Pictures by Roger Gupta
In Aldie, VA, just a few miles off of the highway, sits Quail Ridge. The property is a beautiful venue offering lush landscaping and throngs of cool shady trees. Ideal for festivals, the property boasts a peaceful lake that gently reflects a beautiful blue sky and gleaming sunshine back onto the beaming faces dancing on its shores. The festival grounds are remarkably clean, making barefooted-ness an immediate necessity. Kick off those flops and feel the cool earth below your feet and simply absorb whatever the earth wants to give you. A balmy breeze swirls past carrying away any cares or worries you brought through the gate.
Pitch your tent exceptionally close to the stage and enjoy the music from the comforts of your pop-up, or hang your hammock down by the water and get some serious relaxation in. No matter where you camp, you can hear the music and feel the vibes radiating from the main stage.
Setting up camp near the water Friday evening, snippets from various conversations tickle my ears: it seems the shows causing the most hype are The Mantras and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. However, the eavesdropping has to stop because spunky guitar riffs and celestial keyboarding are starting to slip through the trees and float towards the water. It’s time to get astral with E.L.M—formerly known as Segway. The sun sets and newest member and guitarist, Jon Wood draws ragers from the tent city and demands immediate swaying, head bobbing, and any type of outward movement that expresses the inward journey your mind is shuttling through. E.L.M’s sound is ethereal and ranges from incredibly upbeat dance music to tunes that are practically meditative. This is the perfect start to the evening, as the Baltimore group helps us find the groove we’ll be riding for the rest of the night.
Keeping the cosmic journey flowing at a steady pace, the Mantras take the stage and bring their distinct ethereal sound, vibes, and humor. Lead vocalist and guitar, Keith Allen shares his experience:
“The vibe was incredible; as soon as we got there and saw the sunset over the lake we knew it was going to be a special evening. It was obvious everyone there was very excited about the music, and the crowds were responsive to every note. A great feeling of community and Alex and crew did a superb job organizing it.”
– Keith Allen guitar/vocals, Mantras
The Greensboro group offers upbeat and uplifting harmonies that mesmerize; as well as technical guitar and keyboard to hypnotize—not to mention a shot or two of humor between songs. Get on your feet and allow yourself to be drawn into the esoteric and metaphysical world of prayer-like lyrics The Mantras share: “nature spirit flows through my veins . . . replacing pain, replacing fear with love.”
The night ends early with a final show by DELTAnine; a Baltimore jamtronica group bringing cosmic campers precisely what they want: heavy beats that incite hips to grind and shoulders to pop. Unfortunately, the late night sets are cut short due to noise complaints; however, Mateo Monk keeps the good vibes rising with a—much quieter acoustic late night “set.” It’s inspiring to see people refuse to have their fun squelched by the man, which is exactly what happens both Friday and Saturday evening at Cosmic Campout. A big thanks to all the artists who shared their gifts and kept the music flowing late-night for the quiet ragers.
Saturday’s highlights include M.H. & his Orchestra which features no less than 10 musicians and a lead vocalist—Max Holiday—who simply won’t quit. With an eclectic gypsy-like sound, the orchestra consists of too many instruments to name, but a few are: classical guitar, multiple horns, violin, viola, ukele, clarinet, accordion, upright bass, and many more. If these folks come to your town, it is definitely worth your time to check them out.
The Archives put on an amazingly expressive, progressive, and inspirational show. With vocals by Ras Puma, of Thievery Corporation, the group draws in a healthy daytime crowd with uplifting reggae that is easy on the ears, easy to relax to, and offers a positive vibration that won’t wear you out for night-time sets.
Consider the Source absolutely blows minds with their heavy beats and immaculately technical guitar by Gabriel Marin. Incredible to watch, Marin becomes one with his double neck guitar—sometimes holding on to it as if it might somehow escape him. The New York band’s progressive rock is heavy—but not too heavy. You won’t get a bloody nose or a sore neck dancing, but you will definitely be sporting your rage-face while you hop around like it’s 1999.
Following Consider the Source, is one of the most anticipated shows of Cosmic Campout: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The Baltimore group brings the glow-stick throwers, head-tossers, and pajama-wearing funk-o-holics to the main stage. With a unique blend of psychedelic funk and high-energy dance jams, the Pigeons always know how to read a crowd and give the extra shove needed to push a show from just ‘rocking the house’ to full on ‘blast off.’
When you attend a Pigeons show, be prepared to get sucked in; whether it’s due to Jeremy Schon’s fluid guitar skills, Ben Carrey’s steady bass, Dan Schwartz’s playful personality on the drums, or lead vocalist and pedal-devil Greg Ormont’s seductively strong vocals—the group’s magnetic presence ensures you won’t look away—not even if you want to. As you bounce and bob to a funkified version of the Ghostbuster’s theme, you might think to yourself ‘how could this get better?’ Then—BOOM—you are launched into a glorious adaptation of “What is love?” and the smile spreading across your face becomes permanent for the next 3 to 5 hours.
The music and energy brought by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is addictive because they bring a humbly playful vibration to any event they attend. After the set is finished, they join right in on the party scene:
“Cosmic Campout was awesome! We raged our set as day turned to night, which is always a great transition at festival, especially when viewed from the stage. After our set, we relaxed with our DMV family alongside a gorgeous lake. Huge thanks to Alex Economu and Paul Baranson for inviting us to their festival for the second year. We truly appreciate the efforts of everyone who made Cosmic Campout such a great experience, we all had a blast!”
-Greg Ormont, lead vocals/guitar, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Sunday afternoon WoodWork, from Virginia Beach, provides music that helps us unwind from a joyfully exhausting weekend. WoodWork is a mixture of pop and jam with hints of island-esque accents. Guitar solos that wind around your heart and keyboarding that spins webs of happiness between your ears; if summertime could have a soundtrack, WoodWork would surely be on the tracklist.
Cosmic Campout creator, Alex Economu, shares that his goal each year for the festival is to “highlight local and regional talent.” He explains:
“We want to offer a unique and eclectic music experience right close to home. We are made up of music fiends and festival heads. We strive to throw what we believe is the ideal music and arts festival. We throw Cosmic to give the musicians we adore a worthy stage to showcase their music.”
Economu commented that his favorite moments from Cosmic Campout 2013 were: the VIP pre-party Thursday evening, watching Mateo Monk keep the energy going despite the noise complaints on Friday, watching his family fall in love with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Saturday night, and watching M.H. & his Orchestra join Atoka Chase on stage for a super-jam on Sunday.
Special thanks to Alex Economu, Joanna Torrez, Mohamed Chalal, John Sullivan, and Paul Baranson for their dedication and hard work. Thanks to Rebecca Souther, Eve Yee, Steve Goldstein, and Justin (Alterception) for their constant effort to get people excited about Cosmic. Thanks to all of Center Stage Audio as well as Aaron Kovelman and Dave Schuh for their 30+ hours of work to make sure the sound and lights were better than ever. Economu would also like to give a huge “thanks” to his family for their constant support and love and guidance.