So obviously this whole write up is coming a bit after the fact. Well honestly I believe in taking a step back and looking at an experience as objectively as possible rather then writing a review in the sequential weeks when my emotions might be a little more persuasive of my opinion. Especially when the event turns out to be unorthodox. The first annual Hudson Project held in Saugerties New York was a lot of fun, it was a few other things as well but I will get into those in a minute. By now you have heard the News about Hudson:
That being said it rained a lot harder than the event staff and producers expected, and in turn the outcome was disastrous. There really is no other way to explain what happened Sunday into Monday. A lot of things could have been handled better, there is no doubt about that, but Hudson still was incredible in so many ways. So I will break down the 3 days for y'all as non biased as possible. So without further adieu…The Hudson Music Project.
Arrival and Set Up
I arrived early in the morning to the park and ride lot. Security was not insanely thorough but enough to get the Job done while still keeping the line moving. The busing from the lot to the festival grounds was on schedule and quick which was awesome with all the heavy bags. There was about a half a mile hike from where to the bus dropped us off too the camping grounds which was honestly not terrible (until Monday). The Hudson Project had team members who would carry your equipment to a camp site for you for only $5 using little carts. Being a broke college student I declined the trudged on. I was directed to set up camp in the Bronx area. Everything was cool and the vibes were good until they told us that our camp site was in the tall grass. So myself and my camping buddy started to mat the grass down when we realized we were not the only residents of the tall grass section. Wolf spiders ranging from the size of quarters to those big ass Kennedy Dollars were everywhere. I mean everywhere. I do not do well with spiders. Snakes, fine. Rodents, fine. Scorpions, fine. Honestly I feel like I would do well with even Dinosaurs. But Spiders? No. F*CK SPIDERS.
Well I swallowed my fear and pushed on to set up camp. Luckily for the rest of the weekend I would not see another spider. By this time music for the day was just about starting. So I met up with a few friends, got my bearings and hit the festival grounds!
The music on day one was awesome. There was a lot of running around at Hudson for myself. The festival had so many different acts. Several of which were new to me or I had not seen them in years, so I wanted to take full advantage. In a brief overview of day one I attended: Yacht, Lindsay Lowend, Moon Hooch, Lettuce, Marc Benevento, Robert DeLong, Atompshere, The New Deal, Panic Bomber, Bro Safari, STS9, Odesza, and Excision.
Nobody was disappointing by any means. Marc Benevento treated his piano like an artists pallet and the result was beautiful and soulful music. Panic Bomber stepped in to save the day when Kill Paris was stuck at the airport and threw down a set of deep and tech jams that kept the crowd not only satisfied but incredibly happy. So while it was a day of great music, some acts stood out more than others.
Surprise of the Day: Robert DeLong
In the evening of my first day I was enjoying a Teriyaki Chicken Bowl (the best bang for your buck for sure) and I heard some absolutely funky jams coming from the dance tent. I have to be honest, though I am supposed to be a pro at this whole ‘knowledge of electronic music thing', I had never heard of Robert DeLong. But what I walked in on was all out madness! Robert jumped from instrument to instrument, looping riffs and blending rhythms as he continued to build a track piece by piece. Once the melody was in place, he ran to the front of the stage to sing live vocals and mash the keyboard like a mad man. It was so impressive to see someone have that much musical talent and raw energy. Robert's music was so original and so aggressively exciting it was impossible not to dance like no one was watching (for those who were watching, it probably looked like a stroke). I did not want the set to end, but once it did, I immediately followed this evil genius of sonic perfection on Soundcloud.
Best Set of the Day: The New Deal
For those of you not familiar with The New Deal they are an electronic jam band based out of Toronto. The group consists of a drummer, a keyboardist, and a bassist and officially refer to themselves as ‘livetronica' as while their music is played out on live instruments, it sounds as if it could be coming from a turntable. The group broke up in late 2011, but in the wake of much anticipation and excitement, they announced several festival performances for this summer.
The trio played a set that was energetic, exciting and fun. Though the best part was seeing the look of nostalgia on their faces as they fired through relentless jams to the affirming cheers of the crowd. The atmosphere was incredible and only got more exciting when front man Jamie Shields announced additional shows in Philadelphia and New York later this year.
All in all day one was a ton of fun. I saw some mind blowing music, met some even better people and by all means was pleased with the festival thus far. Outside of being a little under prepared in terms of camping spaces, I had no major complaints. I passed out early and awoke the next morning to a tent the was probably about 110 degrees, 100% humidity.
Day 2 was HOT, something that was not subtlety foreshadowed in my wrap up of Day 1. The heat was ominous as it makes people just that much more likely to be dehydrated. The staff was good with placement of water stations and medical tents to aid in the uphill battle of caring for overly intoxicated attendees. There was a shockingly high amount of legal activity and arrests occurring throughout the day. A police presence was noticeable and 0 tolerance was in effect. Even people with personal use quantities of drugs faced arrest. Overkill? Maybe. But that being said nobody died at Hudson Project, coincidence? Probably not.
While day 2 was a bit more hectic in festival specifics, the music was just as incredible. Throughout the day I saw WoodysProduce, Ex-Mag, Flatbush Zombies, Kastle, Luminox, Kap Slap, Big G, Conspirator, Kendrick Lamar, Griz and Moby. It was a much more EDM oriented day for myself, with some exceptions of course, but all in all the dance tent was the place to be on Day 2.
Ex-Mag brought the funk just as Luminox brought the filthy bass. Between the humidity and sweaty bodies packed into the dance tent, the structure was close to developing its own weather system by the end of the night. Condensation dripped from above as people continued to pack in more and more tightly as the night pressed on with promises of stars like Griz and Moby closing out the night. It was no doubt a day to remember but like day 1…day 2 had its surprises and standouts as well.
Surprise of the Day: Kap Slap
I was fortunate enough to sit down and ask Kap Slap a few questions before his set on Day 2. I think like most people I first learned about him through his mash-ups and bootlegs. I had never seen him live before and did not have a clear idea of what the set was going to entail. I mean I figured it would be upbeat, electro heavy and energetic but man my expectations were met and surpassed quickly. Kap Slap is making the bridge from bootlegger and mash-up artist to producing his own original tracks. And for anyone that was at his set as day 2 turned to night they know he is succeeding in that transition with postured ease.
Best Set of The Day: Tie: Big Gigantic & Moby
Big G took to the main stage as the sky above them churned angrily. The duo laid down a set of a life time. As the sax blared and stage lights flashed in sync, the sky started its own light show and soon the heavens opened up. The entire scene was absolutely captivating as the rain poured down and was seemingly controlled by the music Big G was cranking out. The crowd danced with an almost primal ferocity as everyone for that hour and a half lived fully in the moment. As the set came to an end the rain slowly tapered off and fireworks began accompanying the last few songs putting the finishing touches of perfection on an already mind blowing set.
Moby was billed with closing down the second day in the dance tent. The seasoned veteran was clearly ready to lay down an explosive set. Moby who is no spring chicken among DJs was jumping around the stage like an acrobat. He was standing on the decks, jumping down from them and running out front as he egged the crowd on with his gestures just as much as he did with his music. We of course returned his excitement with our own as the legend played a mix of hits from both years ago to the hottest tracks of today. Just as soon as Day 2 began though, Moby played out his last song and things dwindled to a close.
Day 2 was just as impressive musically as its predecessor but some of the flaws of the festival started to show. The brief rain shower turned the main stage into a swamp and dance tent floor was impossible to walk through with shoes on. There were several abandoned flip flops in the sea of mud that had formed. The camp grounds that were built on hills now had issues with water pooling in low lying areas, but overall things remained positive. Nobody could anticipate what was to happen next though.
I got into the festival grounds early on the third day and saw that the staff was doing a lot of maintenance work. They were laying down hay on the muddy areas and draining water the best they could. Unfortunately it was hot again, and incredibly humid. SO humid that rain was inevitable but I really do not think anyone could anticipate the storm that ended up hitting the area later that day.
I was able to attend Chrome Sparks, Project 46 and Isiah Rashad before chaos ensued. All of which were absolutely awesome. But in the 5 o'clock hour as the wind started to pick up and sky continued to grow ominous a siren sounded and music cut out. An announcement started to broadcast throughout the festival and camp grounds. It instructed everyone to seek shelter in their vehicle as a storm was rolling through that would be dangerous to try to ride out in a tent. It also said and I quote, ‘If you do not have a vehicle please find a vehicle to seek shelter in'.
Now, by no means do I claim to be some kind of specialist in crowd control or handling evacuations, but man could they have figured something better out. Having been one of those lucky thousand people who utilized park and ride I was without a vehicle. So after being pushed out of the closest exit by security and asked to quickly make friends to apparently save my life, I was a little confused. Luckily I was not the only one. Hundreds stood around aimlessly questioning the intensity of this storm and what the staff really expected them to do. Some people continued to sell pins, others packed up in a rush in order to leave the grounds completely and others like myself sort of just walked around dumbfounded. But the rain came and it came fast and hard. For almost two hours it was a total deluge. A relentless and powerful storm that was everything the warning announcement promised. But even after the hardest of rains, the sun comes out.
As soon as the rain stopped people were making the most of a bad situation. Mud sliding began immediately and soon became an all out impromtu party. People slid down the now ruined hill on rafts, mattresses and even just on their bodies. Others played in the 2 foot deep pool that formed at the bottom but one thing was for sure, the Hudson Project attendees were not going to let a little rain keep them down.
Unfortunately the county was totally about to let the rain keep them down. Very shortly after the festival was officially canceled for the rest of the night. A gentlemen who seemed to be important (he had a mega phone) was announcing the music was canceled for the rest of the night and if you were able to, to pack up and leave. Well again, I am not well versed in crowd control but telling thousands of people, majority of which are intoxicated to pack up, go to their cars and leave, is as close to stupid as possible. Even though staff soon started to insist that any one not sober should in fact stay the night, nobody could shake the vibe that they wanted as many campers out as possible.
Immediately I made the decision to stay the night. I was sober, I could have left. But I was not about to try to fight the surge of people in a mass exodus. Many made the mistake of doing just that. As a flood of people attempted to leave they realized just how bad of a situation the storm had left the grounds in. Mud slides had formed on the paths back to the parking lots and a pond over 3 feet deep formed at the bottom of the stairs leading to the muddy paths. The on site parking was held in a hilly field which disintegrated in the storm. This was only made worse by the swarm of people trying to leave as soon as possible, some to get home, some to keep the party going.
Soon the on site parking was a dangerous and insane situation. I walked to my friend's car later that night to get dry blankets and we were almost run down by a pick up truck that lost control in the mud. Very few staff were there to direct traffic and they were very clearly not trained to handle a quasi-natural disaster.
I wish I paid to come here, so I could sue them for this.
-Hudson Project Security Guard
Well you know the rest. Things only got worse through the night and the next morning. I ended up leaving any supplies I could so I would not be weighed down in the mud, and slipped and slid to the park and ride pick and got on the bus to leave the chaos behind. The on site parking got so bad the red cross had to set up shelters for those whose cars were stranded in the mud, and the national guard was reportedly on stand by. As I said in the beginning. It was a disaster. But it was a disaster that nobody saw coming or could have seen coming. Rain storms of that intensity are as rare as tornado. I am not pointing fingers nor making excuses and I really have no idea who is to blame for lack of preparation but honestly…what is more important than placing blame is looking forward to next time. To future festivals and make sure this will never happen again. Human rights violations should not be a subject at a music festival. So prepare for the worst, because you never know when it just might happen. Check out the pics of the aftermath in the grounds (you will not find these anywhere else) and more day 1&2 festival pics below (Check out our Facebook this week for the full album of 300+ pictures!). And please comment your experience and your opinion because every story that is told is another opportunity for change to occur.