Consider the Source, a progressive rock band out of New York City, performed a midnight set at the Empire Lounge, and it easily was the best set of the weekend. I have been told that I needed to get out and see them, and now I understand why. The three-piece band has a sound all their own, melding rock with Middle Eastern influences and psychedelia. Their set was a throw down of epic proportions, as my eyes and ears didn’t stray for one second. Gabriel Marin plays a double-neck, fretless guitar and he’s nothing short of a master on it. John Ferrara plucks the bass while Jeff Mann mans the kit.
Headliner Fishbone had a 1 a.m. set in the Manhattan Theater. By this time, I was fading fast. Fishbone, formed in California in 1979, melds funk, metal, ska, punk and alternative into one whirlwind of a show. The seven-piece wove its way through a set that helped keep my eyes open.
Gang of Thieves, an award-winning funk group from Burlington, Vt., took the stage at 3 a.m. in the Empire Lounge. Mike Reit, on lead vocals and electric violin, was asked to sum up the band in a few words.
“Music has real power,” he said. “We tend to write everything from a collaborative standpoint, and get everyone involved. When we come together on something, it just feels so great. It’s a very fulfilling way to go about it.”
Unfortunately, after Gang of Thieves, I had to head to bed. Pooped.
Saturday was supposed to start out mellow, but it seemed the crowd was in party mode. People were rolling in, undoubtedly preparing for two sets of Twiddle that night.
I started my day by seeing the Kind Buds, who had performed a special set the night before dedicated to the Grateful Dead. The acoustic duo harmonize well and have been at this for many years. During their day set, they invited a handful of people to hula hoop on stage. Fun way to get things rolling.
Throughout the day, Citizens Band Radio, Juggling Suns, The Other Brothers, Lespecial and an acoustic Lucid set the tone for what would be a wild night.
Around 8:30 p.m., Syracuse funk/hip-hop three-piece Sophistafunk took to the Empire Lounge. Sophistafunk has only grown in the last few years, touring Europe and gaining a following in America. Their set featured dance grooves with positive hip-hop lyricism over the top.
Over at the Grand Ballroom, was Formula 5, a talented group out of Albany, N.Y. Formed a few years ago when the members were waiting in line to get Phish tickets, Formula 5 has risen up the local rankings to headline venues such as the Putnam Den in Saratoga. Their set on Saturday was rocking and fun. These guys are going places, so remember the name.
At 10:30 p.m., the Camp Creek All-Stars, led by Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, led the Manhattan Theater on a jammed-out set that spanned nearly two hours. Beau Sasser, Bill Carbone and Ed Mann were part of the group. Murawski has been one of my favorite guitarists for years, and seeing him rock his Ibanez up close was a dream. I am not sure if this lineup is going to do anymore shows (Murawski told me prior to the show that he is unsure what the future holds for the band of musicians) but if they do a tour, you can bet I will see more than one show.
Twiddle is a jam-rock group out of Burlington, Vt., and they have risen up the scene’s hierarchy rapidly. With a sound similar to Phish, but not a copy, Twiddle has roped in a younger fan base that is rabid for the group’s catchy lyrics and hooks, and their unique improvisation.