HLS @ Catskill Chill ’10: A Very, Very Tiny Chill

Friday September 10th, 2010

We arrived early Friday morning shocked there was absolutely no line to wait in. After getting our tickets from will call and a quick search of the car for “weapons of mass destruction” we joined the other 6 cars in the parking lot. After a few rides from a short bus and golf cart plus one long walk we finally had all the gear at our prime campsite overlooking the lake. After setting up camp we began to chill with our neighbors out of Long Island, two stand up guys. Having been up all night driving the 7 hours from C-Town to Hancock, NY I had to take a short nap to recharge for the night of music ahead.

Easy Star All-Stars

After only an hour my crew woke me up to head to the stages for Easy Star All-Stars on the main stage. They opened the set with a few energetic originals off their Until That Day EP. Next they began busting out the reggae covers as they played Beatles’ classics “A Day In The Life,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” and “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Next they broke into a great Pink Floyd medley that worked from classic to classic as they played “Time,” “On The Run,” “Breathe,” and a lengthy, funky jam of “Money.” To close out the set they pulled out a few Radiohead covers including “Karma Police” which we enjoyed on the walk back to the campsite for dinner—check it out below.

Garaj Mahal

As we made it back to camp it was obvious the stages volume had been boosted because we could clearly hear Garaj Mahal take the side stage with their unique jazz fusion. The funky jazz rock floated across the calm water to our lakeside campsite and provided great background music while we ate and drank with the neighbors from NY. Opting for great conversation over Soulive we continued our own chill at the campsite until later that night.

Headtronics

Informed by our neighbor that we would want to see Freak Bass we headed to the stages to catch him, DJ Logic, and Steve Molitz who are collectively known as Headtronics. We walked up to the side stage which was in full party mode with a fire dancer, glow sticks, and Headtronics throwing down some hard funky beats. Freak Bass slapped and plucked his bass in true Claypool fashion as Molitz complimented the strong bass line with frantic synths and keyboards; all the while DJ Logic maintained just enough order to prevent pure chaos with smooth beat after beat from his turntables.

Future Rock

Next, trio Future Rock took to the mainstage with their heavily trance and house influenced electronica. As they began to hit a groove they busted out a whomp-whomp dubstep type song which had everyone really moving. As their set continued I unfortunately lost excitement and interest as each crescendo only seemed to give way to the same original melody. After hearing and seeing great things from them on YouTube I was slightly disappointed in the exciting build up that repeatedly gave way into a boring repetitive beat. Tired of standing and tired of listening we headed back to camp to refuel.

Since we had seen DJ Logic in Headtronics just two hours earlier we decided to skip his solo set and chill at the campsite. Having been in the crowd dancing all night the campsite was a cold and windy wake up call to what the weather was actually like. We layered up and shared a few more drinks before finally turning in for the night; unfortunately just as the Heavy Pets, making this my second missed opportunity to see them. Shit. Not bad falling asleep to the faint sound of their jams floating over the pond though.

Saturday September 11th, 2010

After a good night rest we awoke to much warmer and sunnier weather than Friday. Some chose to swim in the small lake while others retreated to shade. We posted up underneath a large tree overlooking the water while relaxing for most of the day. As we began to cook up some dinner we enjoyed the funk of The New Mastersounds from the main stage.

Toubab Krewe

After dinner we headed down to the main stage to catch Toubab Krewe’s set. Using their crazy blend of Mali and rock these guys put on quite a show. Using unique instruments such as the kora, soku, and kamelengoni Toubab Krewe manages to find the perfect mix between traditional rock and Mali. As the sun set behind the stage Toubab powered through jam after jam drawing the largest crowd yet. As a more seasoned listener since the first time I saw them at Rothbury it was easy to pick out classic live tracks as well as new jams from their most recent album TK2. Close to the end of their set they invited out Keller Williams to join them on percussion, possibly the highlight of the weekend.

Passafire

Next up on the side stage were Georgia reggae rockers Passafire. I have long been a fan of reggae rock and have wanted to see these guys for quite some time now. As they took the stage there were maybe 10 people in what normally would be called the crowd. As they shredded and rocked every song slowly more people gathered however the crowd’s energy didn’t come close to matching the band. Jumping around and playing with the energy and passion of Rage Against The Machine the band was drenched with sweat regardless of the cool night air in the Catskills. Pulling songs from all over their catalog, including their newest effort Everyone On Everynight, they had everyone bouncing; however, due to the lack of people, nowhere near the mosh pit style shows of fellow reggae rockers Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, or 311. Regardless of the low turnout the band put on a very impressive show mixing elements of reggae, rock, metal, and even slight electronic. Definitely a band I will try to catch up with on tour again soon.

Keller Williams

We headed to the campsite for some snacks and drinks as Keller took the stage as Saturday’s headliner. Again being able to hear quite well from camp we chilled with the neighbors as we could hear funky jam after funky jam coming from Keller on the main stage. As a friend tried out stand-up bits for the neighbors you could still hear Keller put down layer after layer of each loop as he added drums, whistling, guitar, bass, and finally vocals. Hearing most of his classics such as “Freaker By The Speaker,” “Breath,” and “Best Feeling” we finally gathered the energy to trek back down to the stage; unfortunately after the first song we saw Keller was all ready done for the night and we did an about face right back to the campsite.

Particle

Having seen Particle put on a great show at Gory At The Quarry 2007 I was satisfied with listening to the electronic jam from our campsite given the clarity of the music. Just as they started to get things going they busted out “Launchpad” which got a raucous cheer from the crowd in the distance. Playing through other live staples such as “Sun Mar 11,” “Below The Radar,” “Elevators,” and “W” it was obvious that original guitarist Charlie Hitchcock who just recently rejoined the band fit back in perfectly. The songs and jams were tight, focused, and impressive. Near the end of the set some nearby neighbors in a cabin decided to play some dub step as loud as they could unfortunately drowning out the rest of Particle’s set; however, I’m not going to complain about being forced to listen to good dub step.

Brothers Past

The neighbors quieted the dub step just in time for us to listen to Brothers Past take the side stage. Having heard of them but not having heard them I was very impressed by the electronic fused rock jams that were echoing through the campground to our campsite. Elements of jazz, electronic, rock, and occasionally funk were combined to create a unique sound I’d cautiously classify as progressive rock. With lengthy jams and soaring guitar solos in the midst of jazz drumming and synths Brothers Past felt like a three headed monster born from Pnuma Trio, Umphrey’s McGee, and STS9. I would definitely like to catch up with them on tour when I have the energy to actually witness not just listen to their set.

Still exhausted from the drive to the festival, and having to repeat it again in the morning I headed off to bed as U-Melt serenaded the campground with their classic jam band style.