Camp Minglewood in Hancock, NY was the spot to be at from September 7-9, as tons of acts, fans, and hoola hoop enthusiasts from all over descended upon the humble, quiet town to celebrate this year’s installment The Catskill Chill festival. I’ll admit Destiny, both my own and my lovely contact at Brotherly Love Productions, crept up on me unaware, because I had never even heard of the Chill beforehand. But that was a mistake of my own doing, because the 3-day event is definitely something I will attend next year, crazy weather and all. The sold out show brought in crowds from miles around all anxiously awaiting a weekend of hip jams, bright lights, and a super friendly atmosphere.

Friday:

Getting off work just early enough to get to the grounds by the time it was already in full swing, I waited patiently in line to pick up my credentials. Though it was an easy process and handled efficiently, you could tell the poor girls manning the table were spent from constant movement, barrages of questions from all directions, and pesky-types whose sense of personal urgency trumped the work already in progress by staff. Mellow out, kids… The workers want to get you your tickets/passes/etc as quickly as possible, so you’ll leave them alone. It’ll happen… Just hang tight.

With all that said and done, I managed to get onto the concert grounds about 30 minutes into Conspirator’s set, and what a welcome it was! The electro/jam fusionists had the main stage area packed from wall to wall with their ridiculous light show and virtuosic approach to jamming out. Though not as progressive as some of their jam contemporaries, their ability to build off of each other in the live setting, coupled with a fantastic light show, flooded my aural and visual senses wonderfully. The traffic heading in both directions to the stage made it very difficult to get close to the stage, but hanging back offered many unique opportunities to meet folks and performers.

After Conspirator finished melting everyone’s faces, I beat the impending rush of patrons and caught a few tracks by Kung Fu, all prior to my aimless wandering around the grounds in the dark… You know, to figure out where I was and all. Their jazzy, progressive, and technical songs were a vast difference to the dance party that had just ended, but an eager crowd filled the second stage area to keep the party going strong. I’m not kidding, either… The attendees at Catskill Chill were a hardcore bunch, and everyone round me seemed to be in their own world, listening and bouncing along to the rhythms.

Venturing off, I did my best to get a feel for the layout of the grounds, speaking with several venders who offered a huge variety of independent clothing, glass accessories and charms, tapestries, and food. Patrons milling about lined up with cash in hand to support the micro-economy that was happening, and Camp Minglewood was its own little city during my time there. I made it a point to get well acquainted with the guy selling $3 Labatt products, and drank my share before hustling back over to the main stage to watch the line check for Lettuce.

Lettuce was spectacular, but you probably knew that already. As the main act I wanted to see that weekend, it was great, during my 3-hour car ride, to know that I would have a solid buzz and an insane evening to look forward to, and the day did not disappoint. Walking back for a quick refill, I saw Lettuce’s bassist Adam and saxophone player Ryan on their way to the stage, and just had to ask for a drive-by interview with them. They happily accepted, and that made my evening! Both of them turned out to be super cool, partying loving dudes, and they offered some great wisdom for all of you kids out there, but that’s for another day. To quote Ryan, “Listen!” Again, their set blew the roof off the Chill, and zapped all my energy in a hard way.

Mostly intoxicated by this point, I continued wandering through the festival grounds. The hilly nature of the Catskill Chill site was both a blessing and a curse. The winding pathways, littered with tents and happy people catching a buzz, always gave you a new area to meet and greet fellow Chillers, but the hills and distance to the overflow parking area became a bit of a debacle to navigate as the final Blue decided to kick in. Again, kudos to reasonable festival concession prices!

As I stumbled around the back camping area, I saw a cabin decked out with FiKus banners and posters, so I wanted to go introduce myself and put names to faces after their interview with Live High Five a few weeks back. As it turned out, the cabin was a late night jam spot hosted by an absent FiKus but present Schwizz, and my party continued for a few more minutes. Speaking with Frank Coda and Ryan Liatsis, who were doing everything possible to get the cabin into party-worthy shape for the late night festivities, I hit them up for an on-the-spot interview that promises a modicum of hilarity once I get a chance to listen to it. Those dudes were great and I’m still bummed I had to miss their set. Next time, I guess.

As for the rest of the night… I made it to my car somehow, and it was lights out as soon as I hit the back seat. I’ll tell you here and now, the ground would’ve been a better idea.

Saturday:

So, waking up stiff as a 2×4 and in desperate need of a gallon of water, I hobbled back to the festival grounds to re-up on cheap beer and whatever food stuff I could get down. I did pretty well, too… Cheetos, Trail Mix, and some Pretzels, an idyllic breakfast for a burnt out, weekend waster. But dietary intake aside, I was just excited for the music to start again, and Consider The Source was there to make it all possible.

Talk about a music lesson, the NYC jazzy/progressive/fusion group represented the most intriguing and unique act of the weekend for me (though you’ll soon realize what a short weekend it would be.) The white clad trio powered their way through an incredible set of ethnically inspired shredding that left me scratching my noggin. I swear Les Claypool was slapping away on the main stage for a moment there, and I was awed and perplexed by their heavy groove and amazing musical technique. I sense an exponential growth in following for this band in the near future… Great set!

Heading back onto the grounds once again, one of the guys in The Alchemystics managed to smack a sticker on my shirt as I headed towards my car, and I felt obligated to check them out for a little while before the sky opened up on us. Their reggae/hip hop combination made me forget about the drench-a-thon that was about to hit us, and kept the patrons bobbing their heads with thoughts of island shores and sunny skies in their minds.

By this time, the sky looked really ugly and people were scrounging up whatever they could before the festival felt nature’s wrath. Though the staff was diligent in their attempts to get everyone rounded up, it was still a confusing and frustrating time for patrons. The severe weather warnings kept the music at bay for a period, and campers were again advised to pull their pop-ups and loose equipment. Nothing kills an outdoor festival buzz faster than the word “Tornado” getting tossed around. Oddly enough, NYC was as close as any of that came, being hit by 2 tornados that day. But aside from some heavy wind and a good soaking of rain, Camp Minglewood held up fairly well. Not that I’d get the chance to find out for myself.

Erring on the side of caution prior to the onslaught, I headed off of the festival grounds to take refuge until the storm passed by us, only to be advised that there was no re-entry for anyone leaving upon my return. It was a bummer to have the weekend cut so short, but I had a great time at the Chill.

All told, I was only able to see 5 of the 46 acts that performed. I may be able to blame work, booze, inclement weather warnings, and not having an air mattress to sleep on, but those excuses I’ll use to get out of the inevitable “You’re getting old” responses I’ve been getting. Man… That Saturday wake up hurt.

I can’t wait for Catskill Chill 2013!

Conspirator Setlist: Park > Commish, Countash, Gypsy Lane, Orch Theme, Tumblr, Pow wow x, Accent > Scarlet Begonias > Accent, Hammer Down, Highsteppes, Heartbeat, Feed the Wolf

Kung Fu Setlist: Bopcorn, Do the Right Thing, Bring up Rear, Steppin in It, Beletune, Stratus

Lettuce Setlist: Blast Off, Mad SQ, Shmeeans, Lettsanity, Dilla, Dowler, Play, Nyack, Go go > Mean > Bujstin’, Need you, *Move On Up, Suppit, 5am Huff

Consider The Source Setlist: New World Cocek, Vagiant (hand symbol), *Moisturize the Solution, Absence of a Prominet Tooth, **Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong, You Go Squish Now, ^^Do Not Shrink Me Gypsy, I’ll Fight for the Imp