Downsized and Relocated, Echo Music Fest Reverberates Through Downtown Albany

Echo Music Festival, brought to you by Loyalty Entertainment, was designed to be an all day, all night outdoor EDM festival set in the beautiful, hilly region of Schenectady- home to Maple Ski Ridge, majestic Plotterkill Preserve and the Indian Lookout Country Club- made famous by Camp Creek, Gathering of the Vibes and Camp Bisco.  Instead, the festival was downsized twice, cutting out all “minor” acts including Syracuse funk favorites, Sophistafunk, and relocated to two clubs, and finally one club, in downtown Albany.  The performances were narrowed down to the following DJ’s: Valerie Valentine, SAV and Mystereo, DVDJ Dread, and Jersey Shore celebrity and mashup hip-hop/house/electro DJ, Pauly D.  The festival started out with few attendees filtering in and out of Legends on Pearl, and ended in a packed, drunken, dancing mess of sweaty Albany clubgoers and assorted party people.  Mission Accomplished!

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The lovely Val Valentine spun Synth-laden, bouncy electro-house tracks to start the evening off and bass-heavy mashup/house/trap/electro continued to echo down Pearl St. until close at 4am.  Each DJ brought their own style of EDM, providing listeners with a range of experiences.  Valentine’s set established an upbeat and technically interesting ambiance, with lots of cool sonic effects, knob-twisting and live mixing.  This Buenos Aires native was also quite enjoyable to watch, as she would periodically and adorably rise up to mix on tip-toe. Her set was unfortunately somewhat sparsely attended due to the early hour.  Next was SAV and Mystereo, the black and white Rorschack-masked Moombahton duo from parts unknown, who held fast to their anonymity, even down to an identity-killing, scratchy, Batman-like stage voice on Mystereo’s behalf.  Cheesy?…maybe.  Fun and weirdly cool?…Definitely.  Their set followed suit as it proved fun and danceable.  Moombahton, for those who are unfamiliar, is a blending of reggaeton and thick-baseline electro house or electro. This form of music has a tendency to get the party started due to its relatively new (c. 2010) electronic take on the ridiculously rhythmic and timeless roots of Jamaican dance hall and Dominican bachata.  The night continued to hold this energy as DVDJ Dread took the booth.  This is a DJ with technical skill.  Most memorable were the scratching breaks Dread regularly took in his hip-hop heavy set.  Fast scratching was his forte, and it was nice to see someone that still formidably wields this too oft neglected art.  Dread is also a filmographer (hence the “DVDJ”), and his videos streamed across Legends’ many large flat screens as the party grew in size and intensity.

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It was during these primetime hours at Legends that a number of other DJ’s traded off with each other, most of them unidentified to this writer.  Pauly D soon integrated himself into this party of now hard-drinking DJs, and continued the theme of hip-hop/mashup/house.  He stuck hard to top 40 and club hits, with crowd favorites like A$AP Rocky’s “F***ing Problem” and “Ball” by TI.  Unfortunately, his spinning style appeared to be lacking in a variety of, well… creative mixing or turntablism.  I left remembering one instance, wherein Pauly D left the beat to a song thumping, cut out the treble, and mixed in a loop that simply repeated “Pauly…Pauly” for an extended break.  But…you do have to hand it to him,  he was able to keep those Albany clubgoers and a handful of festi-type partygoers dancing through the night, and repeating catchy pop-hip-hop rhymes the next day.

Thanks to Loyalty Entertainment for a valiant effort in tough circumstances and hospitality all around.  Better luck with a larger outdoor festival next year!