Conspirator, Umphrey’s McGee, 7 Walkers and Headtronics Animate Catskill Chill
The second annual Catskill Chill music festival returned to Camp Minglewood in Hancock, NY over the weekend. Like Equifunk and many Upstate New York Harvest Festivals, this three day event took place at a sleep away camp, which included bunk beds, wooden cabins and dining halls.
Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals was one of the first groups to open the festival, playing particularly funky versions of “Rhapsody In Red,” “Cats Down Under The Stars,” and a rendition of “Lucky Old Sun” > “Sisters & Brothers” > “Drums” > “Bass” > “Expressway To Your Heart” that featured some standout moments from bassist Jimmy Tebeau. Conspirator took the main stage later that night, performing in front of a crowd of mostly young fans who were covered in glowsticks and LED paint, carrying giant stuffed animals on sticks that they waved endlessly in guitarist Chris Michetti’s face. Set highlights included a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall,” a “Syzzup Remix” of McKenzie Eddy’s “Retrograde” and a brief tease of The Grateful Dead’s “China Cat Sunflower.” Lotus drummer Mike Greenfield, who was sitting in on drums for the set, thanked the crowd and commented that he spent summers as a camper at French Woods where the festival took place. Late night highlights on Friday included a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” by Perpetual Groove and a set of Break Science that flawlessly segued from glitchy dubstep powered by the multitalented drummer Adam Deitch and the baritone musings of “The Verbal Herman Munster” Chali 2na.
The second day of the festival started off with a short set by The Heavy Pets, followed by one of the most spirited performances of the weekend by the Brooklyn based Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, which was led by the brother and sister team of Arleigh and Jackson Kincheloe. The group’s sound was danceable, loud and frantic, never skipping a beat as Arleigh hopped around the stage dancing to the groove provided by the large horn section that stood behind her. While FiKus took the B stage shortly afterwards to a less than full crowd, the “Electro-Funkadelic Hard Rock Group” managed to keep Catskill Chillers sticking around by performing stealth sets during the wee hours of the morning one of the cabins that were located on the festival grounds.
Headliners Umphrey’s McGee played one of the most hyped sets of the weekend on Saturday night, playing “Intensions Clear” > “Walletsworth,” a version of “Much Obliged” that segued into a reggae dub cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.” The “Der Bluten Kat” that occurred later in the set featured such a heavy guitar battle between guitarists Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss that it caused numerous fans that were sitting in the bleachers to rush the floor to mosh, headbang and shred air guitar like it was a Metallica concert. Two songs of the recently released album Death by Stereo — “Domino Theory” and “Miami Virtue” —were also played. After the Umphrey’s set, the supergroup Headtronics featuring DJ Logic, Freekbass and Steve Molitz took the B stage. Their music sounded like a cross between Critters Buggin’, Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock and Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade— never once stopping the slap bass funk during their 55 minute set. Eric Krasno, who was spinning a DJ set under his Kraz alias during the Headtronics set, joined the late night headliners Dumpstaphunk at around two in the morning for a lengthy sit-in on guitar and organ. The set’s highlights included “Deeper,” “Everybody Want Sum” “Livin’ In A World Gone Mad” and a set-closing “Put It In The Dumpsta’” that had everybody screaming the lyrics along with guitarist Ian Neville.
Music started a bit later on during the final day of the festival, with Particle and Dopapod putting on loud, keyboard-driven sets. Dopapod’s set included “Black and White,” “Freight Train” and a cover of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem.” While the pouring rain put a damper on the days festivities, people waited for hours towards the front of the stage for the delayed 7 Walkers performance, which featured Bill Kreutzmann, George Porter Jr., Papa Mali, and Matt Hubbard. The glowing tye dye backdrop set the mood for this New Orleans meets Grateful Dead inspired set, which included versions of “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin Bad,” “Bird Song,” “King Cotton Blues” and “7 Walkers.” As Zoogma closed the festival at 3:30 in the morning people scampered back into their cabins, ready to ignore the morning’s reveille that was soon to come over the P.A. system.