Editors note: This is part 2 of our 3 part Upstate Spring Revival coverage that features the music from the weekend. Come back tomorrow for our final article, “The Skinny and The Setlists”
Photos by Kevin Burke
The music started promptly at 7:30pm Thursday night with the combined forces of Carly Jane and Train Rat. The Cohocton, NY band’s melodic hypnotizing jazzy blues with a hidden fury was a great way to kick start the weekends musical expeditions. Along with a slew of originals, they offered up sexy versions of Peggy Lee’s “Fury” and The Devil Makes Three’s “Old Number 7”. Following Train Rat was Springwater’s White Woods with their own brand of Cake-esque alt-rock with extra frosting. The two bands also collaborated on a song with some expert mandolin play and an audience chanting “Chugging down to New Orleans” right along with the musicians.
Thursday’s closer was Vermont’s Flabberghaster. While hard to define given their unique flavor, one could imagine AC/DC mashed up with the Allman Brothers and get a sense of their sound. This was some rocking music and the crowd ate it up. Beyond the head banging, the band also went on a number of exploratory improvisations from bare bones hard rock to jazzy percussive clap-alongs. While their set was somewhat cover heavy, they made songs like Led Zeppelin’s “The Crunge” and the Allman Brothers “Whipping Post” their own with no fear of straying from the original song structure. Where’s that confounded bridge? Who cares! The crowd wandered back to their tents completely flabbergasted. True to rock and roll form the band slept overnight on the stage.
Friday started out early with Canandaigua’s Upstate. The bands blues based rock and roll with lots of experimentation and fierce peaks got people out of their tents and down to the stages. In the middle of the set they offered a fun mash-up of one of their originals with the new Daft Punk song “Get Lucky”. Following Upstate was Buffalo’s Slip Madigan. The band’s upbeat happy music with funky breakdowns and hints of electronica was a great match to the unexpected sun shining down on the crowd. The newly formed Mister F followed, composed of 3 members of Albany’s Timbre Coup and Scott Hannay from Capital Zen. The F maintains their own sound, which runs the gambits of influences from funk and rock to jazz and electronica. Their self-described genre of “Neat and Clean, Hard and Dangerous” is pretty much spot on.
Rochester’s Ocupanther then laid its claws into the audience with their brand of instrumental funk-space-psychedelia featuring the juxtaposing styles of Berkeley schooled axeman Colin Jones and self taught shred wizard Mikey Pantano. They opened with an adventurous cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and the audience responded with much love of their own. Friday’s evening journey began with Albany’s Timbre Coup and their deep progressive rock influences, intertwining metal overtones and doses of electronic forays with top notch vocals. As the sprinkles started to turn to rain, true to their name, Project Weather Machine stormed the stage for an hour and a half of Grateful Dead and old school blues inspired improvisations with awesome names like “Nitrous Roxide”. As the rain progressed in intensity festival goers were treated to the first show by Buffalo’s Universe Shark in several months. Despite their hiatus they did nothing but deliver, keeping the crowd dancing in the mud. Closing out the evening was the return of the much revered Schleigho. Their set was nothing short of mind-numbingly brilliant, ranging from pure technical by-the-numbers wizardry to wide open “Space”-esque exploration. Musicians were buzzing about this set the rest of the weekend with phrases like “It was like going to jam clinic” and “I’m not worthy” being thrown about.
Saturday started later than anticipated. Stage equipment was all moved to the main stage due to the mud pit in front of the secondary stage. Thankfully the weather cleared, the sun came out, and Ithaca’s Solaris started things off with some excellent intense EDM. Albany’s Formula 5 proved quite the draw in the next spot with their genre-everywhere sound. Funk, rock, blues, jazz, electronic, it was all in the mix as well as a fun cover of The Bands “King Harvest”. The trio of Rochester’s Haewa filled the 5pm slot with some of the most extended jamming of the weekend, more of Colin Jones guitar-pyrotechnics, and a rock solid grooving core.
The evening lineup of Vermont’s Twiddle, Buffalo’s Aqueous, and NYC’s exploding Dopapod was so hot people were wiring their doctors to re-up their heart medications. Twiddle started it off with a set filled with improv, explosive soaring peaks, and a jam of Phish’s “Contact” that ended up going from “Funkytown” to “Billy Jean”. The centerpiece of the show was a monster version of original “The Box” which simply went everywhere. Aqueous then one upped everyone with the biggest crowd of the weekend thus far, and a hot-as-fire set no amount of liquid could extinguish. Filled with effortless segues, memorable originals, a fun sit-in from Dopapod’s Chuck Jones on Warren G’s “Regulate”, and a brilliantly intense take on Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia”, Aqueous had the audience in the palm of their hand. Brooklyn’s Dopapod closed the evening set with an all out rager, effortlessly gliding from song to song with the best light show of the weekend by far. This band is on fire and should not be missed at any opportunity. Aqueous’s Mike Gantzer sat in for original “Bats in the Cave” complete with some well placed Dr Dre “Xxplosive” teases.
Those that survived the onslaught of Aquapod stayed up for the late night set of NYC’s Consider the Source, whose technical expertise may not be surpassed by anyone. Imagine a Primus that got all jammy and had three Les Claypools running the show. Pure intense perfection and an exquisite end to the fest. An incredible weekend of music, with each band bringing their A-games.
Come back tomorrow for our weekend summation, “The Skinny”, and an assortment of some of the weekends best setlists.