So what would you like first, the good news or the bad news? This was the inaugural year of The Hudson Project Music and Arts Festival in Saugerties, NY and thousands were looking forward to a Camp Bisco-like experience. After all, it was thrown by the same production company, MCP Presents. By now, if you're involved in the music scene at all, you've already heard what happened last weekend and some of the regrettable events that took place. Here is the good and bad that transpired at the MUDson project:
The themed stages that occupied the festival grounds included one out door trailer, three tents (my favorite) and two outdoor main stages. The Jack Daniels trailer sat furthest North and was supplied with a full bar and giant inflatable whiskey bottles. The Catskill Cave was just next to it, the most petite of all the tents and hosted such acts as Araab Muzik, Holy Ghost and TOKiMONSTA. The New York Stage was not originally featured on the list of set times but was a rather large tent situated between the two other tents. The Circus Tent was the grandest of all accommodating the intense vibes of the crowd during major sets like Keys N Krates, Excision, and Moby. The two main stages, Explorer Stage and Empire Stage were set up almost side by side and had alternating sets like The Flaming Lips, Atmosphere, and Kendrick Lamar.
The visual production:
Destroy them with lasers!! The lighting in the Circus Tent was by far my favorite to observe however, all the stages and sets had outstanding visual affects.
Tapestries, "tobacco" pipes, apparel, and food vendors lined the Headquarters and campsites selling all items a festival should have to offer. The smell of the deliciousness wafting through the air prompted me to indulge in a vegan burrito, becoming my new favorite treat of the weekend.
The overall festival layout:
It didn't take more than 3 minutes to walk from one side of the festival grounds to the other, yet everything was spaced out really well. How each tent was situated allowed you to hop around between sets without any sound pollution.
People were very happy with positive attitudes! And why shouldn't they be? It's something we had been looking forward to all year! A dope line up, a home away from home for the weekend, a chance to explore the land and meet new faces. "The vibes here have been really crazy, really amazing. Everyone is just really friendly and ready to interact and it was wonderful." Alex, Saugerties, NY.
We were in New York, and most of were from here, where the bars don't close until 4am and the afters don't end til after the sun comes up. So why would we stop at 2am when the music ended on the festival grounds? The featured "secret stage" was the iconic Bang On! van which was situated up in the Manhattan camp grounds next to an eerie haunted mansion. It started when the music stopped however, was only featured on Friday night.
The Saturday after-hours tunes were pumping from the RV lot where a couple hippie buses stood as well as some local DJ's spinning dirty beats outside of their campers.
There were multiple shower trailers located at the North and South headquarters all weekend, none of which I ever had to wait in line. Being from California, I'm all about the camping experience. But having to work, interview, and network, these were my saving grace during the weekend. Sure, I brought a solar camp shower but do you know how refreshing it feels to strip down and scrub the earth from between your toes?! Unfortunately, there was a giant mud puddle out the exit, so that didn't last long but it was totally worth the $6 to feel like a whole new woman!
And of course, the MUSIC!!
Robert Delong- Wow, this guy is an absolute maniac in the best way possible. Hopping back and forth between varied instruments, his one man band is flawless!
Bro Safari- The best set of the night! Him and MC Sharpness kept the crowd on their feet the entire hour. In our interview, Bro Safari explains that in the current DJ scene, it's basically required to be an MC. He'd rather focus on the DJing so he brought MC Sharpness on board and they have been killin' it ever since.
Big Gigantic- They didn't let a little rain stop them from delivering one of the most energetic sets of the weekend.
Moby (and our impromptu interview with him!)
Okay, here goes...
The two-hour gate wait:
It wasn't a good start when we had been waiting for 2 hours for them to open the gates. Many had arrived early to set up camp before dark. A promised 8pm start time turned into a 2 hour state of anxiousness and confusion. "We just need to take care of a few more things and then we'll get you guys in." I mean, how long do you really need to take care of all these things? They have had more than enough time to plan out this festival and get things flowing smoothly. Strong emphasis on the word "plan." This was just foreshadowing what was to come next.
The clueless staff and security:
Don't get me wrong, these people were actually really friendly, but their information was askew. One of the first thing I heard upon picking up my wristband at will call was "there is no on-site parking." Was this woman aware of how many people paid for an on-site parking pass? Where was she getting her info from? We had PAID for it. We ended up taking direction from a parking lot attendant and proceeded to follow one of the shuttle buses and lo and behold, the on-site parking lot! It's where we were trapped 4 days later, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Inside the festival and the camping grounds it was "I don't know where the lost and found is." or "Go ask this person" or "follow the signs" where no signs were to be found. "Absolutely disgusting trap by police enforcement. It was awful. It was completely unorganized. No bueno. Never again. We've been to Camp Bisco for 8 years and thought this would be the same just less grimy. There were security cameras up on the stages and drones flying around. They're everywhere"- Ryan, Providence, RI. Not to mention the amount of security checkpoints there were. "What I didn't like is that once we got through the first [security] checkpoint, we had to wait another X-amount of time to get the campgrounds and go through another checkpoint. It held up the process and made it into a big ordeal, which it didn't need to turn into. It could have been managed a lot better." - Tyler, Nyack, NY
Whether they like it or not, illegal drugs DO make their way into these types of festivals. Hell, they're even being sold there. In these instances, all we can hope is that people are being safe and smart about their consumption by testing their drugs first. "I walked through security two separate times on saturday, about 3 hours apart in the evening, and saw security confiscate 2 Bunk Police test kits." Austin, New York, NY. Yet, adversely baggies and scales were being sold at the general store. "Sunday night I went to go raid the 'festival amenities' store for snacks and I go to pay and I look down and there is a stack of bags of 'jewelry bags' and right next to it, there were 20 some odd digital scales for sale." Austin, New York, NY.
One positive note about security: Saturday night I was told there were some shirts stolen and someone was posing as security guard, stealing things from people's tents and campgrounds. So THAT'S where my GoPro went! It's unfortunate, unlikely, and hard to place blame on any one person. Amazingly enough, one of the 3 hired security companies, Marker Protection Services took the fault, worked with me, and obtained me a GoPro. It's a small gesture to show they're out to make the patrons happy.
The cleanliness of the campgrounds:
I get it, port-a-potties are usually the epitome of disgust. But would it kill them to clean them out regularly? Or to add a few more washing stations? No wonder someone took a dump in the showers. We were fortunate enough to have a couple trash cans in our front yard however, they were not emptied once all weekend. Rubbish piled up, fell to the ground, and gathered around the cans for three days. Not once did they think to send a crew out to clean up the mess. Come to think of it, I didn't see a cleaning crew around at all, ever. After the storm, campers were so fed up, they said "screw it" to cleaning up their campsites. They even left items there because it was too much of a hassle to lug them through the mud and rivers that had formed. If you came with absolutely no camping gear, you'd ground score enough to be set for your next camp out.
No evacuation plan:
They completely prepared the announcement that roared over the stages loud speakers at approximately 4:45 on Sunday evening, yet their sound advice was to have everyone evacuate the festival and camp grounds to take shelter in their vehicles. But wait, what about those who parked off-site and took the shuttle over? Oh ya, they were told to find space in a nearby vehicle. What if they couldn't? They were just going to be left out to die? Assume a tornado had rolled through. Absurd. Most people said "fuck it" anyway and just had a party in the rain, constructing giant slip-n-slides and using their air mattresses as rafts.
This may have been the biggest blow of all. Screw our safety, we want Bassnectar!! For most of the festival goers, this was the light at the end of the tunnel. The big shazam. The last hoorah. Anyone like me was thinking, "Ahh this will all blow over in PLENTY of time to catch Lorin's set," which was scheduled for 9:15pm. Once the rain stopped, initially, I was even ready to hop out of the car and go 12th Planet! It was major disappointment when we were informed that the festival would not continue. "People traveled from so far to see Nectar and like, what the fuck is this? this is bad."- Ray from MA
The overall unpreparedness of the grounds:
The physical grounds at Winston Farms were not equipped for this kind of storm, let alone any sort of rain. The ground instantly turned into a mud bath anytime water hit it. They even LET campers set up camp in the valleys where the rain accumulated and formed streams once the storm hit. They KNEW this storm was coming. The announcement was all set and ready to blare to the campers.
Monday morning hit and we were forced out of the camp grounds only to find the giant mud pit occupying hundreds of stranded cars. Not a staff member in site to offer direction, we tried waving down one of the 7 tractors that had been brought in by local farmers, some who were even CHARGING hundreds of dollars for a tow. It wasn't until an hour and a half that we found out about the line of people at the top of the hill waiting to hitch a ride on one of the tractors to save their car. That was other 2+ hour wait when all anyone wanted to do was just GO HOME. We'd had enough already. Those left helpless in the parking lots were hungry and dehydrated and made it known via social media. The Hudson Project posted that they were working "tirelessly" to bring food and water around the campsites. CAMPSITES. How about those trapped in the parking lots? I only saw one worker the entire 4 hours we were stuck and he was walking around with a case of water.
In the words of Stewie Griffin, we're going to end this "compliment sandwich" on a positive note. All in all it was the right decision to end the festival due to the thunder and lightening produced from the sever storm as advised by the Ulster County Emergency Services & Health Department. It was for the safety of all of us because water and electricity just don't mix and god forbid something tragic happened to one of the campers, the situation would have been a lot worse on both sides. The Hudson Project has promised Sunday ticket refunds, even though we still got half a day of music. This meaning that 3-day ticket holders will receive a 33.33% refund, 2-dayers will get 50% back, and single day Sunday folks will get a full, 100% refund. The primary ticket purchaser must submit refund requests by August 1st. Click here to find out more and to get your refund back as soon as possible.
The Hudson Project released this statement and for that, I give them my respect. As for this "project," would you say MCP Presents passed or failed?
Photos by Razberry Photography