This past weekend along with roughly 60,000 other people, I was expecting to be in Watkins Glens, NY for Phish's 11th Festival ever titled Curveball. I had secured not one, but two different wristbands for the festival, one being media and the other documenting my friends in Let's Be Leonard as they busked all over the festival grounds. Plans were put in motion, tents were set up already, friends were coming from all over the country, but the festival was not meant to be.
Before leaving Albany with most of Let's Be Leonard, as a couple of them went already the night before, we heard the crushing news that it was cancelled. The entire Finger Lakes Region of New York had been rained on for days leading up to the festival and it caused the water to turn turbid, or cloudy, on Thursday morning. This was the morning before the festival was properly going to kick off. about 25,000 people were already on site. I had been looking forward to this weekend, as many others had for a very long time. A lot of people who were already en-route or at the site partied that night at Watkins while others turned around and found their own campsites or hotels to spend the weekend with friends. As I hadn't left Albany or met up with the band just yet I was unsure of what to do.
Well what else was I going to honestly do but find live music to go to. I started with two shows on Thursday night. The first was the WEQX Battle of the Bands for the opening spot at the annual Pearlpalooza Festival that is thrown every September. This was round three and fours band played for the chance to have it. They were in order Hubris Djinn, Becoming a Ghost, Bendt, and Talia Denis. Hubris Djinn are a local four-piece who lean to the jam side of rock and roll. They did a great job of getting the crowd pretty amped for the evening and I'm sure they are going to be playing a lot more in the area. I know they caught the attention of everyone attending. Next was Becoming a Ghost who just couldn't stop moving while playing quite the set of music that blended indie, alternative, and some punk rock altogether in a nice package. I was most impressed by them the entire evening with what they brought to the table. Third was Bendt, who I have worked with before, and they came up on the stage and just slayed. They wound up winning the evening and deservedly so. It was a no nonsense set that saw the guys play their hearts out. Last up was Talia Denis who is in the middle of changing her sound to a more indie rock vibe. She had a little trouble with a broken keyboard, but like the solid performer she is, she trucked right on without missing a beat and played a hell of a set. I'm excited to hear the new music once it's recorded in the studio. The Albany music scene is thriving, don't let anyone tell you different.
From there I drove over to River Street Pub for the Super Dark Thursday show that I haven't been at as much lately. I got to see two of the four bands play and they both happen to be very good friends of mine. Shana Falana was up first followed by The Parlor. Both bands are duos that just work so well together. Shana and Mike use loops, noisy guitar effects, perfect drumming, and kaleidoscopic visuals beamed on them to take the crowd to another planet. They have some new music coming out sooner than later so please be on the look out. Eric and Jen have been at the whole music thing for quite some time now and having just toured extensively on their latest release Kiku they are in fine concert form. I love watching them either hit a note or sing something just a little different than normal and give one another knowing glances and just laugh it off in the middle of the set.
I spent the next day wallowing that I wasn't in Watkins Glen. It just kept sinking in that not only wouldn't I get to see one of my favorite bands blow the collective minds of all the fans in attendance, but I wouldn't be seeing so many friends that I rarely see. It was good seeing so many friendly smiling faces the night before, but it just wasn't the same. So on a whim I contacted a friend and put in for the inaugural Wicked Good Festival in Boston the next day and got it so off to Boston I went. With a quick stop-over to see the wife, I was off to Boston Commons where I got to see a lot of friendly faces from the local photo community.
The first two acts I saw were Juliana Hatfield and Buffalo Tom, two acts of Boston royalty. They have both been at it for quite a bit of time and neither disappointed the crowd. It was a gloomy day filled with on and off rain but everyone stood through it and enjoyed the free music put on by WERS. Between bands local act The Party Band popped up all over the field for impromptu performances and second lines all over the crowd. Nothing had really struck me yet musically or about the day in general but I think it's because I was just bummed I wasn't where I wanted to be. The rain completely stopped though moments before Bleachers, the day's headliners, took the stage and never came back and the whole day turned around.
Now I'm not the biggest fan of the band. Nothing against Jack Antonoff and crew, it just never hit me. Yesterday's performance did the trick though. I don't know if it's because I was down and out on not seeing Phish play eight sets of music over three days or if I finally just got it, but man they kicked ass. From the opening notes of "Goodmorning" until the last beats of "Don't Take the Money" I had a hell of a time. It might have been looking around and seeing a group of people just go all in for a performance from singing back to the band, dancing nonstop for the set, or going on one another's shoulders when Jack instructed everyone to do it spontaneously. It might have been that Jack had a smile on his face literally the entire time he was out on stage. It might have been his stories of how important Boston has been to him and the band or how important music has been in his life. It doesn't really matter what it was, but that feeling I wanted all weekend had arrived. I lost myself in the moment and forgot about everything for a little while and watched Jack and the band just dominate anything they wanted to. He spoke a bit too much during the show and started quickly going through the end of the set, from a two minute cover of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" to a roll-licking "I Wanna Get Better" and finally the already mentioned closer, but no one in the crowd cared and it felt like just another moment of this great show.
This wasn't the weekend I wanted but it was the weekend that was dealt. Hopefully everyone else who was supposed to be in Watkins Glen this weekend made the most of it as well.