By Ray Futia,
Anticipation for the Hudson Project centered on the lineup, and in that regard I found the 3-day long festival to be a success. The unique mixture of funk, jam, and various electronic flavors was more than enough variety to keep me engaged, yet each set seemed to fit with the others. Several of the non-electronic acts gravitated towards a more electronic sound; Lettuce spent the first half of their set without bassist Erick Coomes, having guitarist Eric Krasno lay down deep Moog bass lines to great effect.
Many of the headliners put on dazzling performances, notably the Flaming Lips, who pulled out many of the tricks they showed off at Bonnaroo- the dancing mushrooms, butterflies, and rainbows, the hamsterball, and the confetti confetti cannons- and played a near perfect set with a warm moment at the end as frontman, Wayne Coyne, halted the set for near half an hour on behalf of an audience member who had fainted. Several of the lesser known acts surprised me and matched the intensity and precision of the bigger names. On Saturday night, the Golden Pony, a Brooklyn based disco and deep house duo got worked up a small crowd in spite of competing with both Four Tet and Moby’s sets, which I wasn’t too fond of. On Sunday afternoon, the Soul Rebels, a funky New Orleans brass band thrilled the thinning crowds from the main stage with a full hour of dancing and energy.
All that being said, the other aspects of the festival were lacking, particularly organization and preparation, making the festival feel a bit like a trial run. Security was a big focus with multiple stations into and within the grounds; this created quite a bit of congestion as there seemed to be a shortage of security personnel. This also amplified hassle of getting from off-site parking to the event and camping grounds- a 3 mile trek- with the few shuttles available.
In spite of all of this, the Hudson Project will likely be remembered for its premature ending; due to a severe thunderstorm warning, it was cut off Sunday afternoon, canceling several acts including the highly anticipated Bassnectar. In light of the severity and duration of the storm, cancelling the event seems to have been the best decision, but the chaotic way in which it was handled left many at the festival confused and bitter, with some left stranded on the flooding grounds. Nevertheless, if the Project learns from these mistakes and continues to put together amazing lineups, it has potential to come back as its own distinct festival in the years to come.
By Tom Legnard
I haven’t been to many festivals, but I feel I’ve attended enough now to know that the Hudson Project was unique from its older defunct sibling, Camp Bisco. Despite several flaws, MCP Presents put in a valiant effort to create an innovative festival experience with an eclectic lineup that was hard for most festival-heads to pass up.
Take away the Disco Biscuits, the Disco Biscuit fans, the bikers, the car camping, and move down about 45 miles south to the Winston Farm in Saugerties, and you have the Hudson Music Project. An electronic heavy festival with many alternatives for all musical tastes, the Hudson Music Project stood out from other events. Other major differences could be seen from the very beginning, with many campers quickly discovering that much of the focus was put on the lineup and venue, and not so much on the parking, camping, and security. I arrived at the off-site lot and obtained my wristband and info to jump in line at approximately 9:30 PM, and was all settled into my campsite by 4:30 AM, after two shuttle trips, a half-mile walk through mud and stairs, and a temporary shutdown of the shuttles at around 3 AM. This was the first of a few red flags how clearly not everything was thought through for Hudson’s inaugural year. But there’s that saying that you have to work hard to play hard, so after a long arduous night of waiting in lines, I was ready for some music.
That is where the Hudson Music Project did not disappoint. On Friday I forgot all about the previous night by starting my day off with Tauk. Later I jammed out to Lettuce, where Eric Krasno jammed on a Moog and the rest of the band kept funk levels high. Other notable sets of the day included headliners STS9, who kept things grooving and proved to everyone they were just as good with their new bassist, Alana Rocklin. However the most exquisite set of the night came from Wayne Coyne and the rest of the Flaming Lips rocking out with giant mushrooms and rainbow inflatables in tow. Coyne had his usual antics, he got in the ball, stopped songs in the middle to make sure the crowd is invested only to start the whole song over, but throughout the set there was a vibe of togetherness between the band and the crowd that just couldn’t be ignored, even when the show was stopped to give a fan medical attention. It’s a special thing when a band can not just write songs about love and respecting one another, but to act on those principles when their fellow man is in bad shape.
Saturday brought its own share of musical goodies, it was by far the most magical day. The rest of my crew finally got their act together and made it to the site, and we ventured forth to see what Hudson would bring us next. We started the day off with !!!, who with their high energy was able to get the crowd going and get the party started. We meandered over to the Circus Tent to catch Exmag, a Gramatik-esque electronic group that brought the funky beats and hot guitar licks. From there we proceeded to Bit Funk at the Catksill Cave. Now, I hadn’t previously been exposed to his music, but you can be sure that I’ll pay attention now. This DJ spun some kick-ass deep house and nu-disco, and I couldn’t help but keep my feet moving the whole time. Little did I know that the deep-house marathon was just beginning.
As the evening progressed, I found myself at the Bonobo live set. Bonobo, who is regarded as a great producer with high quality, relaxed production, played bass with a full band backing him…and it was incredible. The group played so tight they managed to recreate a studio sound in real time. Watching the sunset over the Explorer Stage as Bonobo serenaded the crowd was probably one of the most beautiful moments of the weekend.
However the time to relax was short lived as Big Gigantic took the Empire Stage. Dominic Lalli never disappoints with his vivacious saxaphone melodies over his hybrid creation of a band and DJ setup. The energy level was high as Lalli soloed over EDM hits like What So Not and RL Grime’s “Tell Me”. No one seemed to care when it started raining, in fact, the crowd cheered as the skies opened up and people raged in one of the most energetic sets of the weekend that even ended with fireworks.
Yet I haven’t even gotten to my favorite sets of the weekend. I made sure to catch Jon Hopkins from beginning to end. The IDM influenced artist put the crowd into a trance with tracks like “Open Eye Signal”, “Collider”, and the ever-beautiful “Light Through the Veins”. I didn’t dance much during his set, but I took in every beat and rhythm, and left feeling at peace. After some much needed therapy from Mr. Hopkins, Griz took the funk level back up and played a set with even more great funkotronic rhythms and sexy saxaphone licks. Moby and Four Tet closed the nights in the the two tent stages, and although I checked both out, the real party was in the last place most Hudson attendees would think to look. In the middle of the field at the New York Stage (where they hosted a playing of the World Cup game and yoga classes during the day) was underdog Golden Pony. They played for 2+ hours, dropping deep house, tech house, garage, nu-disco to my delight. With a very small crowd and Go-Go dancers clad in wigs and LED triangles on stage, this small tent was the place to be Saturday night. Although I forced myself to leave to check out the major acts elsewhere, I found myself quickly drawn back to Golden Pony so I could shuffle my feet and get down for the rest of the evening. Who knew that the peak of the weekend would be an artist that I had never heard of?
But at the peak, things start to roll down hill. Sunday began with New Orleans Brass Band Soul Rebels, who played a funky, soulful set. However despite their awesome performance the music was abruptly ended right before Perseus was about to come on. An emergency alert broadcast beckoned Hudson attendees to leave the venue and proceed to their cars to seek shelter from a dangerous oncoming storm. My experience at the Hudson Music Project sadly ended with me packing up my stuff and waiting out the rain in my vehicle. When the storm had quelled, my disappointment was deepened when I found out the remainder of musical acts had been cancelled, including the legendary Bassnectar. Many fans and myself were left to listen to his new album, Noise vs. Beauty, over their car stereos rather than the Empire Stage’s massive sound system. I was just lucky I had exited with my belongings before the rain, as many patrons were stranded at the site for hours after news of cancellation, with many cars getting stuck in mud.
We can’t get mad at MCP Presents for the bad weather, however the storm exposed several holes in the planning of the Hudson Project. Local school bus drivers had to volunteer to get patrons from the venue back to the off-site lots, and festival staff were bombarded with questions from scared patrons with very few answers to give. It was clear there was no set plan in place for this type of emergency, and because of that the “Mudson Project” may have seen it’s first and only year. Unless many changes are made in the camping accommodations, access to the festival site, and redundant and pointless security checkpoints, I cannot safely say that the Hudson Music Project will survive. The festival would get a gold star based upon the music alone, however the festival must be evaluated on the experience as a whole, not just the acts. MCP will need to step up their game if they want this event to survive, otherwise they should get on their hands and knees and plead to the town of Mariaville, New York so that Camp Bisco may rise from the dust and grime of Indian Lookout Country Club and return in 2015.
Artist: Song (Album)
1. Young Widows: Cool Night (Easy Pain)
2. French Style Furs: Solitary Life (Is Exotic Bait)
3. Wild Smiles: Fool For You (Fool For You EP)
4. Shovels and Rope: Coping Mechanism (Swimmin’ Time)
5. Dave Fields: Black Dog (All In)
6. Puss N Boots: Jesus, Etc. (No Fools, No Fun)
7. Miles Tackett: Just What I Need (The Fool Who Wonders)
8. Liam Bailey: On My Mind (Definitely NOW)
9. Kutosis: Crystal Beach (Dream It Away)
10. Hindu Love Gods: Junko Partner (Hindu Love Gods)
11. Hank Williams: Cold Cold Heart (American Roots Music)
12. Abstract Artform: B.A.M.F. (As the Crow Flies)
13. Junk Riot: After Tomorrow (Headache)
14. Honeyblood: Killer Bangs (Honeyblood)
15. Morrissey: Earth is the Loneliest Planet (World Peace is None of Your Business)
16. Stage Republic: All Out (Firstage)
17. Mean Creek: Night Running (Local Losers)
18. Bad Finger: Day After Day (Straight Up)
19. Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens: Movin’ (Cold World)
20. Dead Fingers: We’re All Alone (Big Black Dog)
21. Braid: Many Enemies (No Coast)
22. The Green Seed: Diss Connect (Drapetomania)
23. Orquestra Pacifico Tropical: Rio Frio (PDX Pop Now 2014)
24. Sean Flinn and the Royal We: Heavy Hearts (The Lost Weekend)
25. Nova and the Experience: We Are the Children (There’s Something There EP)
26. The Ramones: I Don’t Want to Grow Up (Greatest Hits Live)
27. B. B. King: The Thrill is Gone (American Roots Music)
28. The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer: Don’t Make 'Em Like They Used To)
29. Drenge: Bloodsports (Drenge)
30. Mastodon: The Motherload (Once More Round the Sun)
31. Rodrigo y Gabriela: The Russian Messenger (9 Dead Alive)
32. Bright Light Bright Light: I Wish We Were Leaving (Life is Easy)
Soulive – Doin’ Something
Hugh Masekela – Inner Crisis
James Brown – Turn it Loose
Stanley Clarke – More Hot Fun
Richard “Groove” Holmes – Ode to Larry Young
Larry Young – H+J=B hustle + Jam = Bread
Liquid Soul – Dysfunction
Blue Note Allstars – Blue Note ’76
Herbie Hancock – Sly
Return to Forever – Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant (Part 1 and 2)
Jean-Luc Ponty with George Duke Trio – Canteloupe Island
Jay-Z – Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Monophonics – Rotten Ribs
Soul Summit – Memphis Underground
Soul Summit – Chicken and Waffles
El Michels Affair – Behind the Blue Curtains
Greyboy Allstars – Let the Music Take Your Mind
Kung Fu – Popcorn
Orgone – I get Lifted
Mitzi Tape 9