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Published: 2009/07/19
by Lauren Sutter

Summer Solstice Projekt, Harmony, MD – 6/18

When a new festival is built up by a baby company, like the Summer Solstice Projekt, it is enthusiastically anticipated by the audience with high hopes that luck will be on the companys side for the festival to be a great success. Regrettably, the Summer Solstice Projekt was a complete bust.

Nobody wants a cancellation, partiucularly when the tent is already down, poles lock-and-keyed into the ground with feng-shuied canopies and new neighbors discovered. I think that those who do not regularly attend or appreciate the point of music festivals, do not really understand what the audience goes through in order to have a few days of fun. So when all attendees woke up to police yelling the news of, by 4 p.m. everyone is out or else, it was not only an insult to the promoters, but to those who wanted a little dancing session to relieve the weeks stresses.

It seems that the promoters, Weapons of Mass Production and inkhen, did not properly build up the necessary relationships needed to ensure a solid, fluid festival experience. While the promoters dispute the legality of what transpired, county officials contend that Weapons of Mass Production and inkhen had faulty permits, that only allowed music to be played from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and did not grant permission to serve alcohol). Given such big name acts like Shpongle, Alex and Allyson Grey, Benga and Skream, Conspirator, Orchard Lounge, The Egg, Brothers Past, and DrFameus, proper planning and organization are necessary elements for a festival to last beyond its first night.

Thankfully that first night held its share of fun, regardless of the interruptions caused by having to lower the volume every two minutes. The small audience (since most people were coming on Friday after work) knew that something was wrong when a few hours in, the music was being hushed. The schedule for the evening was Push, Orchard Lounge, Conspirator and Benga and Skream together. Pushs performance went off flawlessly, but Orchard Lounge’s set proved the beginning of the end for the festival. Every few minutes they had to stop DJing so the soundboard could find the proper low volume.

Because of the constant disturbance, Orchard Lounge felt discomforted and their set was a little difficult to get into. They kept smiles on their faces regardless, since good artists continue in the face of struggle. However, when Conspirator took the stage before Benga and Skream, the break in the original schedule befuddled listeners and left them with a feeling of irritation at the promoters. Some people were whispering how they were keeping a strike count, starting with how close to the road the main stage was (strike one) and the repeated volume adjustments (strike two).

Conspirators lineup was a funky one, with David Murphy from Sound Tribe Sector 9 on samples and Lane Shaw from Pnuma Trio on drums. With them having to go on earlier than expected and what must have been a stressful setting backstage, their sound wasnt as fluid as it usually is. Some people were telling their neighbors how it sounded like they were rehearsing more than they were playing, but everyone was still dancing and relaxing to songs like Caves of the East.

As discombobulated as people were with the changes of artist order and fearing police presence at any moment, most still tried to find the positive. There was a lot of space to dance, the grounds were spacious and it was one of the most intimate festivals most travelers have been to. Strike two and a half though was supplied by the grounds, which had unkempt grass and no flushing toilets or showers. I say half because the latter two were arriving the next day due to torrential downpours the morning of Solstice.

Those people who hoped to put aside their troubles with a performance by Benga and Skream soon learned that Skream refused to play because the volume was turned down and didnt think that the results would do justice to bass wobble. Those aficionados of dubstep, who eat up any overseas invasion of artists whose bass notes can never be too vibrating, deep and low, were angry that they only received half of the sandwich. Still, Benga played with lots of power and energy, giving people a double concert to make up for the biggest disappointment the festival had brought until that point in the night (3 a.m.).

Waking up on Friday was treacherous and sad for every attendee. Exhausted from traveling, dancing and high itchy grass mixed with shock of news about the festival being shut-down by cops with permanent clown smiles, everyone was at a loss for words, while quickly scrambling to make new plans and pack before the police would punt people out. There was talk of the promoters moving it to the Sonar, and that Steez Promo would take it over from there, but although Brothers Past, The Egg, Orchard Lounge and a few others ended up playing at a nearby venue, those who had already purchased a Solstice Projekt ticket would have to pay more money to see bands they already paid for. This was the last and major strike against the promoters, since they promised that the wristband would guarantee entrance into whichever venue they moved to in Baltimore.

It was painful to write this review, because I dislike having to report on failures. It is also unfortunate when music lovers cannot get their act together but the PROJEKT as a festival was one of the worst, half-assed event that myself and a other couple hundred people have experienced. Too bad, as it was one of the best dubstep, jamtronica lineups to be presented all summer.

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