Fest Nest

An Ex-Camper Goes Catskill Chillin’

An Ex-Camper Goes Catskill Chillin’

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains at Camp Minglewood, Catskill Chill was one of the most intimate and unique festivals of the season. Upon entering the grounds on September 6, 2013, I had the chance to soak up the scenery and notice the positive energy teeming from every corner. It made it all the more amazing that I happened to be an ex-Minglewood Camper. As I looked around, I realized that the Chill not only provided a fun, loving community of fans, but also a unique utopia in the woods for artists and fans alike to escape the troubles of the outside world and become part of a family.

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains at Camp Minglewood, Catskill Chill was one of the most intimate and unique festivals of the season. Upon entering the grounds on September 6, 2013, I had the chance to soak up the scenery and notice the positive energy teeming from every corner. It made it all the more amazing that I happened to be an ex-Minglewood Camper. As I looked around, I realized that the Chill not only provided a fun, loving community of fans, but also a unique utopia in the woods for artists and fans alike to escape the troubles of the outside world and become part of a family.

The first set I saw was Lotus, and they sure kicked off the night with a bang! There was a very powerful, intimate energy present, which provided perfect fuel for the Lotus fire. Drummer, Mike Greenfield, a former camper at Minglewood, was radiating with excitement and nostalgia as he settled himself behind his kit. As the music began, Greenfield manifested a tremendous rhythmic plane complimented by Luke “the Knife” Miller’s piercing synth tones and Mike Rempel’s harmonious guitar riffs. The highlights included an absolutely stellar “Jump Off” into “Plant Your Root” into “Mikesnack,” which really escalated the energy and brought forth a down and dirty dance party. Steve Molitz (Particle/Headtronics/Furthur) joined the band on keyboards in a face-twisting rendition of “Greet the Mind.” The set included a lot of melodic exploration incorporating jazz, funk, psychedelic bass and raging hip-hop beats, setting a perfect tone for the night. After Lotus, Horizon Wireless kept the party going in Club Chill. The futuristic disco duo from New York brought fantastic energy and were a great transition while fans geared up for the nights main event – Lettuce.

As attendees began to pack the area surrounding the main stage, the air became thick enough to feel the funk. Thousands of thirsty fans screamed with excitement for what would soon be unleashed unto the crowd. From the opening guitar licks of “Squadlive,” it was a nonstop colossal funktastrophe from Lettuce. Drummer Adam Deitch’s thundering rhythms were met with sky-splitting guitar licks from Erik Krasno and Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (also a Camp Minglewood alumni). The final two songs of the set featured fantastic vocal sit-ins from frequent collaborators Alecia Shakour during “Do Your Own Thing,” along with Nigel Hall for “Do It Like Ya Do,” certainly ending the set on a high note. Following the outrageous set, Orchard Lounge hosted a sexy disco dance-a-thon on the B-Stage.

The final act of the night was Kung Fu. Although the 3 a.m. timeslot was later than they typically play, the after-hours crowd lapped up the Fu’s karate-chopping-ninja-funk.  Kicking off their set with the ever-popular “Gung Ho,” energy erupted from the stage as the band gained momentum. With the temperature dropping into the 40s, the crowd relied on the band for warmth, and they surely brought the heat.  Todd Stoops’s chopping like a madman on the keys spiraled the melodies into a swirling funkedelic throw down that had every member of the audience dancing in zero gravity. As the set continued to escalate, the band was joined by Johnny Durkin (The Mike Dillon Band/ Deep Banana Blackout) on percussion and Nigel Hall on vocals for an especially funky “Steppin’ In It.” Late into the set, the combination of mind-whipping guitar riffs from Tim Palmieri, a superhuman percussive presence by Adrian Tramontano and pulse-popping chops from Stoops allowed the true beast to emerge. The final jams that evolved from “Hollywood Kiss” and “Samurai” were some of the most intense moments of the weekend, and darker and eviler than any Kung Fu I had seen before.  As the concluding notes oozed from the stage, the first night of music ended; it was 5:15 a.m., and the weekend had only just begun.

The luxury and convenience of staying in a cabin added a very “homey” feeling to the weekend. Beginning the day well-rested and ready-to-rage, our cabin located in the center of the Minglewood, within earshot of Acoustic Junction, provided a supreme location to chill for the few hours of the day that did not have scheduled live music.

As the midday sun blazed, Chillers flocked to the mainstage for an afternoon boogie with Twiddle. The highlights of the set included an impressive sit-in by 13-year-old guitar prodigy, Bobby Platauf (more from him later), and a spacey rendition of “Funky Town” in which Todd Stoops (Kung Fu/RAQ) joined in on keys. The Z3 was easily the best set of the afternoon. The Frank Zappa tribute band featured Kung Fu’s Tim Palmieri on guitar joined by Beau Sasser on keyboards and Bill Carbone on drums. The highlight of the set featured a fantastic call-and-response with the crowd during Zappa classic, “Titties and Beer.” It was quite refreshing to see so many young faces in the crowd paying tribute to one of the greatest musicians in Rock n’ Roll history. Other notable acts of the afternoon were the Eric Krasno Band, Tea Leaf Green, Shmeeans and the Expanded Consciousness, and an extremely intimate and passionate acoustic set by Brock Butler. However, as fantastic as the day sets were, everybody knew that at this festival, like all others the monsters were due at night.

As soon as the sun fell below the mountains, the freaks came out to play. Upon entering the stage, Galactic was greeted by copious cheers of excitement.  Their set featured classic hits such as “Hey Na Na” (with Corey Glover), “Heart of Steel,” and “Ooh Nah Nay.” One of the few schedule conflicts took place during this set and I decided that I could not skip out on BioDiesel at Club Chill. Johnny Rabb’s record-breaking speed on the kit complemented by Clay Parnell (Brothers Past) on the bass evoked an awesomely original livetronic machine. Following Biodiesel, the livetronic party had only begun as Headtronics and FiKus both rocked their respective sets.

The highlight of the evening began with Conspirator’s set (featuring Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits), which featured a new drummer by the name of Torch. Opening with a tasty Orch Theme, the crowd grew rapidly as the band escalated the intensity. With their new drummer, Conspirator’s set featured some of the most exploratory jamming seen since their early days. Following their set, Brothers Past ignited a melodic inferno on the B-Stage. Tommy Hamilton’s alluring voice pulled the crowd in while Parnell bombarded their brains with bass bombs and Tom McKee’s synths shot them right to the moon. The highlights of the set included a beautiful “Year of the Horse” and a wicked “Squeeze” that left audience members gasping for air. As the night continued, RAQ’s jiggle-jams provided a perfect late-night act for the classic jam-band fans, while Damn Right! took part and celebration of electronic audio exploration, featuring special guest DJ Logic extending into the wee hours of the morning. Aron Magner (Conspirator/Disco Biscuits) also joined them for a series of extraterrestrial exploratory electro-jams resulting in some of the best music of the weekend. After the second day of music concluded, the Chill had already proven itself to be one of the best festivals of the year, and there was still one more day to go.

Sunday featured some fantastic afternoon acts including The Big Takeover, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, the McLovins, and Cabinet. The highlights of the afternoon included the Motet’s fabulously funky “Funk is Dead” Grateful Dead tribute set and a surprisingly entertaining open mic session at Acoustic Junction which featured a groovy “Shakedown Street” into “Tweezer” that attracted a sizeable audience. Ghost Owl (featuring members of Perpetual Groove) also provided an exhilarating melodic journey. Their set incorporated a seamless blend of experimental progressive indie rock with a dash of live electronic dance music. Matt McDonald (synth, guitar) was an absolute mad scientist, concocting intoxicating melodic sequences with the help of Adam Perry (bass, bass synth) and Albert Suttle’s (drums) rhythmic foundation.

As 8 p.m. rolled around, attendees flooded the mainstage, jonesing for the funk. The Meter Men, consisting of Leo Nocetelli (guitar), George Porter Jr. (bass), and Zigaboo Modesliste (drums) of the Funky Meters, in collaboration with Page McConnell (keyboards) of Phish, hit the ground running, whirling the audience into an old-school funk slamma-jamma. The pioneers of NOLA funk were perfectly complemented by The Chairman of the Boards’ stylings, generating an immaculate melodic monster. Dopapod lighting designer, Luke Stratton, also added a phenomenal visual presence that perfectly accented the music. The highlights of the set included timeless funk classics such as “Fire on the Bayou,” “Funkify Your Life,” and “Hey Pocky Way,” as well as a jaw-dropping sit-in from guitarist Bobby Paltauf. The 13-year-old had Porter Jr. and McConnell laughing in amazement as he traded licks with Nocetelli on guitar. Platauf is sure to be one of the next great guitarists and this writer cannot wait to see what comes next.

Immediately following the Meter Men was unarguably one of the best sets of the weekend, Turkuaz. From the get-go, they concocted fabulous funk frenzy, showering the crowed with euphoric melodies. The entire band was dancing, making it clear they were having just as much fun as the audience. Josh Schwartz (saxophone and vocals) along with David Brandwein (lead guitar) provided endless fuel to fire of funk and were the standouts of the set.

As the finishing stretch approached, Dopapod awoke the mind-mashing monster that fans have grown to love. The band was firing from all cylinders and Stratton’s lights were supreme. The chemistry of the band was palpable, and it was clear how much they were enjoying themselves. Eli Winderman’s kaleidoscopic keyboards were flawless as he energetically fed off of drummer Neil “Fro” Evans’ raw rhythmic power. Guitarist Rob Compa’s high-flying hair traveled in all directions whilst he shredded his faithful axe and bassist Chuck Jones shook the Earth with his powerful bass-lines. After a short transition, Papadosio took the stage. Their set was blissful and chakra-piecing, transcending the audience to a unified consciousness.  The visuals also complemented the music very well. The highlight of the set was an uplifting rendition of “Method of Control” into Cue” that had the entire audience moving.

Following Papadosio’s set was a fairly quick turnover to the grand finale, Dopadosio. The superset began with three stellar Radiohead covers, “Airbag,” “Paranoid Android” and “Oprimistic,” all of which were performed very well.  It was a lot of fun to see both bands on stage together playing tribute to a band they all clearly loved. It also featured one original song each by both bands, “Find Your Cloud” (Papadosio) and “Faba” (Dopapod) with the drummers and bassists in a musical chairs of sorts. Overall, the set was a blast and a great way to end the weekend. As the final jam concluded and the family picture was taken (band on stage with the audience in the background), everyone began to exchange hugs and smiles. There was so much love in the atmosphere fostering an extremely comfortable feeling of being home.

An Afterthought
If there was one thing that could be agreed upon by nearly all attendees, it is that the Chill was easily one of the most intimate, unique and nostalgic festivals of the year. With multiple artists having a history at the camp, such as ex-campers Shmeeans and Mike Greenfield, or Brock Butler, who performed for the camp’s staff at the end of the year, Minglewood provided a safe haven for a community of artists and friends. The bonds experienced at the Chill helped cultivate powerful friendships and life-long memories. As an ex-Minglewood camper, I was simply ecstatic about attending a festival where I had gone to summer camp. The Chill was an incredible display of how life truly does come full circle, and was hands down my best festival of the season.

Images by Melodysiac.com © 2013



September 23rd, 2013

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