Review: Catskill Chill 2012
Photos: Sincere Shane Weber & Nick Irving
(Hancock) Camp Minglewood, N.Y. – It’s Half-way through Catskill Chill, on a cool, overcast Saturday afternoon at psychedelic summer camp – and the voice of reason is telling you to stay calm.
“We’re going to have to shut this thing down,” said a peaceful man, who is “strongly urging” you NOT to go back to your tent. “We’re expecting 60 mile-per-hour winds…”
And while that wild weather wreaked havoc throughout the region, it never really materialized here at this sweeping performing arts camp wrapped around a beautiful lake. Instead the sold-out crowd endured a brief one-hour rain storm, and delighted in a weekend’s worth of stellar live music.
Nearly 5,000 people came together for the third annual Catskill Chill in the mountain village of Hancock over the weekend of Sept. 7-9, flooding three stages with energetic crowds and enjoying serene scenes camping in tents or nearby cabins overlooking Lake Sand.
Headlining the weekend was “Conspirator,” “Yonder Mountain String Band” and “Lotus” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, respectively. Each band played a nearly two hour set at 8 p.m. on the “Main Stage,” a large pavilion nearly 30 yards from the lake with a smoothed concrete floor perfect for dancing.
Throughout the three-days, sets filled with improv-fueled dance-groove jam band music spilled over from one stage to another; shows would toggle between the main stage and the “B Stage,” just a short walk to the adjacent facility.
Eventually everyone would make there way to “Club Chill,” a third stage outside of the main gates. The club – really a children’s performing arts theater with wooded pews to-cheap-to-be church pews – was teeming with action as music would flow until 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. Too cool.
The transition to morning was eased both Friday and Saturday by the Royal Family Records crew, which produce a field of all-stars the bands “Lettuce” and “Soulive.” Lettuce, rooted in party-funk music, took the crowd into the midnight hour Friday night, and an expanded Soulive did the same on Saturday.
Break-out shows filled the weekend: “Consider the Source” on the main stage, “Shwizz” in the club; “Rubblebucket” with robots back at main; and “Fikus” with a Sunday nighter that was enjoyed just-a-bit more by everyone who caught them live in the shwikus cabin early that morning.
For a festival that has seen tremendous growth in three years, one wonders what it has in store for the future. Positive reviews, like this one, may just increase it’s popularity, making it too big. The festival’s experience has remained consistent, one late-night Chill friend told me, throughout its three years.
It is surely unique.
The moment you arrive at Camp Minglewood: All cell phone service––from the GPS that got you there, to the texts that will help you find your friends––ceases to exist as we know it.
Making your way into the show you might find introducing yourself to a stranger––oh my!––or boarding a hay-filled trailer (as I did, wildly cruising on dark, woodsy paths).
Festival organizers were spectacular. They were in charge when they needed to be (see: National Weather Service Alert), and they let everybody do what they came there to do – just chill.
The beauty of being at Chill is so apparent. While I found it funny that some camp facilities were literally boarded up like a scene from a post-apocalyptic zombie flick, the vast majority of cabins were either rented out or gifted to artists. Tents were pitched on baseball fields, tennis courts and on nearly every piece of earth between the paved paths of Camp Minglewood. At the top of a hill, a disco ball rose from an ice-cream truck and a DJ played dance classics. People waited for a bite to eat, chatting with new friends and old, and the scene was, perpetually, dancing.
For all who made it, 2012 Catskill Chill was a resounding experience not soon to be forgotten.