The Hudson Project
July 10-13, Saugerties, NY
written by Kaylee Zielinski
photos by Roger Gupta
People from all over gathered to attend the highly anticipated The Hudson Project Music and Arts Festival which was held on Winston Farm. Although the event was cut short Sunday and the whole evening of headliners were canceled, days prior were filled with smashing performances, live painting, yummy food trucks, meditation and yoga workshops.
The event thrown by MCP (organizers of Camp Bisco) was predicted to have over 20,000 patrons throughout the weekend. The event was nostalgic for the surrounding Saugerties community, due to Woodstock ’94 being held on the same grounds. The lineup was stacked, leaving something for everybody to enjoy. Heavy headlining hitters such as Bassnectar, Matt and Kim, Big Gigantic, Paper Diamond, Moby and Griz graced the late night stages but bands like Lettuce, Tauk, Bonobo, ZZ Ward, Twiddle and The New Deal were the main attractions for Appalachian Jamwich.
Less than ideal situations were mapped out for camping and parking. Music didn’t begin until Friday at 1 p.m. but Hudsoners were allowed to arrive Thursday evening to set up camp. Upon arrival, patrons were directed towards school bus shuttles and allotted an off-site parking spot at the Kiwanis skate rink about 3 miles from the event itself. Once you applied your parking sticker to your window, patrons hiked their gear to wait in line averaging about 2-3 hours, for the shuttles and an intense security check. Once you were dropped off at the festival gates, Hudsoners then had to carry their gear through the onsite parking lot, pre-festival grounds, a rigorous security check point to find a spot to camp. Those who pre-purchased Group Camping had their zones sectioned off but those who didn’t were forced to fight the masses. Each camp region was labeled after New York cities; Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. While exact numbers weren’t given about the number of campers in each “city”, each section averaged anywhere from 2,000-3,000. These districts were also accompanied with five grills for people to cook as attendees were not allowed to bring their own grills.
Despite the check-in being rough, music on Friday was go, go, go all day. Beginning with one of our favorite bands and people, Tauk took the Catskill Cave by storm. It was packed with people who crawled out of their steamy tents to catch the 4-piece ensemble experiment with jammy, funky, sexy tunes. Tauk was all smiles, including guitarist Matthew Jalbert who rocked his sunglasses and bobbed his head to each tune. The energy was on point as a nice cool breeze circulated throughout as people danced. Drummer Isaac Teel threw out four drumsticks to the crowd, two of which an uber fan jumped the barrier to grab.
A scantily clad front woman for Yacht donned a bright blue spandex suit and Lindsay Lowend provided a set-breather before the powerfunk entourage of Lettuce wiped out the afternoon with tunes on the Explorer Stage. Decisions were hard on Friday between 3-4 p.m. as patrons were forced to choose between Lettuce and Moon Hooch. Hudsoners were encouraged to “Rage with Lettuce”, aka drink craft beer and mingle with the band in the Beer Garden following their performance.
Hip-Hop act Atmosphere drew in a huge crowd at the Empire Stage, identified as the main stage and Keys N Krates, a Toronto trio who are defined as the world’s only “trap band” was also a must-see for edm heads. Finally, after a three year hiatus, one of the greatest and most looked forward to acts, The New Deal took the stage. The crowd was full and chanted relentlessly as the band sound checked with smiles as wide as a sunrise. The music hadn’t even started and goosebumps were already starting to form. An interesting addition was added to The New Deal at the Hudson Project: a transformer masked, long dreaded, WWF-sounding arena MC to accompany the music. He walked back and forth along stage and pointed creepily at the crowd while his voice of doom signified you might be sacrificed. Needless to say, it was strange. Regardless, the fans were happy as The New Deal serenaded us with old tunes and a couple of fresh ones and once again proved they are the real deal.
Modest Mouse was a blast from many-a-high-school-kid’s past and a crowd erupted at the Empire Stage. The vibe was more melodic and calm as Hudsoners folded out blankets and laid with their special someone to watch Friday night’s headliner play some of their all-time favorite songs such as “Dramamine”, “Cowboy Dan”, and “World At Large”. Soundtribe Sector 9 was on the Explorer Stage and performed with their new female bassist, Alana Rocklin who debuted with Tribe at McDowell Mountain Music Fest back in March. Old school tunes like “Really Wut”, “When The Dust Settles” and “Scheme” were instantly reciprocated but more recent songs had a very disco-y and poppy vibe making true fans wonder about the direction that the band is going.
The Flaming Lips put on a huge production with strings of lights hanging vertically across the top of the stage and front man Wayne Coyne had extravagant costumes and demeanor to match. A couple songs in, Coyne stopped the music and drew attention to a front-row fan that had a seizure. While some artists may have had the attitude “the show must go on”, Coyne was concerned about the fan’s condition and hoped he would be okay. This humane act reaffirmed that Coyne is truly an amazing person and a really cool dude. Favorites like “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and a cover of The Chemical Brothers “The Golden Path” made fans go crazy. Coyne performed his notorious stunt of planting himself into a giant hamster ball and floated through the middle of the crowd adorned with red LED’s. Finally, they encored with “Do You Realize” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – the perfect conclusion to their set. Even if the Flaming Lips aren’t one of your top bands, their energy on stage is infectious and addicting to watch.
The freaks come out at night and Friday was no exception as Excision, Holy Ghost!, Flying Lotus and araabMUZIK closed out this amazing first day. The vibe was all PLUR, kandi, and light-shows. If you weren’t making out with a complete stranger, you were doing it all wrong. The energy was a little aggressive as people fought to get closer to Excision. Flying Lotus was super forceful and concentrated as the video mapping and projections literally made him vanish from the stage. Only during points of darkness could you see his body behind his tables. The sounds late night were loud, insistent and borderline brutal.
Saturday arrived with inviting arms and even though the sun shined bright it was masked with frequent clouds. Twiddle was first up for the day in the pink and purple swirled Circus Tent. They set the mood with “Syncopated Healing” and as they let their hair down, people grooved to their jazzy, reggae funk. It was refreshing to start the day with actual instruments and let the music heal your life. ZZ Ward was the first artist to take on Empire that day and it was great to see a powerful female on stage for the first time this weekend. Her sexy bluesy voice was perfect for this time of day and her rock songs about love troubles were just what the doctor ordered.
Brooklyn hip-hop trio Flatbush Zombies was a main stage performance that Hudsoners swooned over but evening performances by reggae, rock band Rebelution and Dj/Producer Bit Funk changed the direction the vibe was going. Bonobo, who usually tours overseas had a killer performance despite the looming overcast. It was packed full of people at the Explorer stage but everyone was moving about so freely it was easy to make your way to the front.
Bonobo was the perfect appetizer before Hudsoners sunk their teeth into the main course, Big Gigantic. The rage stick game was avidly strong as each cluster of people came equipped with one. The rage stick debate goes on and on amongst festi-goers and while they are creative and comical, it can often be a distraction to have them front row and center of a stage. Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salkin were all dressed in white for their “big day” and popped off with only three songs before the torrential downpour hit. “Let’s Go” proved that the rain couldn’t stop people from dancing and the show went on without skipping a beat. They dropped a new hit “Touch the Sky”, along with favorites “I Need a Dollar”, “Sky High”, and “clvdbvrst”. It concluded with bright and beautiful fireworks from behind the stage and it truly was a picture perfect moment.
Matt and Kim was one of the main highlights for the weekend and their energy was transmittable through all who stared, memorized at the entire show. They played covers of R. Kelly’s “Ignition”, “The Final Countdown” by Europe, and while Matt tossed t-shirts into the crowd, Kim “Pushed It” with a little Salt‐N‐Pepa. When Kim wasn’t pounding on the drums and moving her sweaty hair from her face, she twerked and walked out into the crowd on people’s hands. Confetti and other party moop blasted everywhere as a sea of handmade jelly fish danced. Closing out with Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” and their most popular song, “Daylight” reminded us that Matt and Kim make everyone “feel at home”.
The rest of the night was a triple header as Conspirator tore up the Circus Tent with lasers that looked like they could direct plane traffic up in the sky. Griz took the stage after Conspirator and left his “dayjob” of hijacking Hudson Project’s Instagram and threw down a smooth set filled with breakbeats that had everyone digging their feet into the mud. Other influences of funk and soul shined through and crowd pleasers like War “Low Rider”, the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive”, and Isley Brothers “Shout!” made people scramble to pick their jaws up off the floor.
Finally, internationally known electronic singer-songwriter, musician, DJ and photographer Moby closed out Saturday night. He spent a lot of time in front of his tables throwing his arms up and reaching towards his fans. Moby brought tons of energy with his house and electro beats while adding some of his popular classics to the mix.
The overcast was unconcealed all day from 9 a.m. and on which made Hudsoners skeptical of the impending rain. It finally hit and at the worst moment before Action Bronson was about to go on at around 5 p.m. Production ceased and the concert field became unsafe due to high winds and rain so concert-goers were forced to evacuate, return to their vehicles and seek shelter. It rained on and off for about three hours before they canceled the entire nights production and we decided to make the trek home.
Chaos proceeded as people had already starting drinking and tapping into their late night personas. Police and festival security hassled patrons to leave and drive out of the Winston Farm. A river of groundscores featuring trash and camp gear divided the camp grounds like Moses parting the Red Sea. The entire debacle became a shitshow and the Red Cross had to step in for lodging, bedding and food. “Mudsoners” aimlessly tried to maneuver their cars that were also stuck in the ground and allegedly, towers charged outrageous prices of $100-$500 for help. Once all the acts were canceled, all hell broke loose and no help was to be found.
Attendees definitely received their lessons in self reliance and immediacy, and if they weren’t prepared this year, they sure will be next time. Although, nobody can predict weather as it is uncontrollable factor and unforgiveable at points, the aftermath and follow up is. Contingency plans for shelter and food, emergency protocol, and having a strong team of professionals on the back end to provide adequate care is essential. And the people who go to these events need some personal accountability, too. We do not buy a ticket and give up responsibility. One must have the ability to control their reactions to surrounding problems that may arise.
With a nicely laid out, eye catching website and facebook, the ideal lineup, and the perfect campgrounds – if treated properly – one would expect more for the steep price of $200+ for a GA ticket, $550 for a VIP ticket. Hundreds of people are taking their voices to social media and not holding back their horror stories and disappointment proceeding the weekend. Moms are looking for their kids who they haven’t heard from in days and many demand refunds for their tickets and abandoned camp gear. Some are still hoping for a private show from Bassnectar – who live tweeted perplexed and endlessly after his show was “rained out”. Regardless of their requests, MCP is making a name for itself and it’s not a good one.