If you are like me you are tired of the uniformity of many summer festivals in America. Sure, you have a diamond in the rough like Psycho Las Vegas which features a punishing array of cooler metal bands from Alice Cooper and Sleep to Fireball Ministry and Tribulation to Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. Mostly though, unless you are West Coast and lucky enough to catch a Burger Records all-day indie event, your festival options are probably gonna be something headlined by Kanye and LCD Soundsystem, maybe Bon Iver or some other skinny white dudes playing a “new, edgy” version of shit that was only marginally interesting in the ’90s and, if there’s any metal at all, it is probably only Deafheaven. Women acts will be lower down the bill and you probably will not want to be around half of the people attending. Either that or you’re at some butt-rock event watching Breaking Benjamin. Then you should perhaps question your life choices.
I made a sensible decision within the last year or so to avoid these kind of things like the plague, especially as Father John Misty got bewilderingly more popular. Instead, I prefer focusing my live ambitions on small, curated and cool Festivals like Kingston’s own O+ (which I have heavily covered in the past and who have announced an initial 2016 lineup that includes groovy options like Shadow Witch, Kaki King and Sondre Lerche). It’s just more rewarding and less cluttered on so many levels. You might actually have a revelatory experience instead of feeling like you are being herded around in some Mountain Dew-and-glowstick nightmare.
Maybe I just hate people. I try to be positive and go back and forth, as my readers are well aware, between sunny populism and grumpy identity politics-style activism or insisting everything that isn’t The Melvins sucks (kind of true, c’mon). Stranger Things on Netflix is really good right from the comfort of my own house, where a fan is pointed at me and I have pink seltzer and a cute dog for free. Why leave the house?
As you may have read in our last two weeks’ editions, Meltasia and Upstart Anti Social Campout are two great locally hosted fests worth getting dressed (or undressed) for. This week is my favorite of the whole bunch, though. 2016’s Basilica Soundscape is perhaps the strongest lineup yet from the Hudson-hosted ongoing “antifestival.” While the GOP have nominated a candidate who, as The Nation points out, would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments, it is nice to know nearby there is somewhere (unlike social media and politics) where sanity, good taste, amazing expression and diversity are celebrated.
The site-specific, weekend-long experimental music and art event in its fifth year draws unconventional connections and parallels and enables collaborations between a diverse array of artists. It’s curated by Brandon Stosuy (Kickstarter), Brian DeRan (Leg Up! Management), musician Melissa Auf der Maur and Tony Stone (Basilica Hudson).
Deradoorian, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Edley ODowd, Angel Olsen, Mary Lattimore, Wolves In The Throne Room, mighty Bell Witch, Explosions In The Sky, Youth Code and more round out an impressive line up for the weekend of Sept. 16-18, with a variety of ticket options ranging from $60-$125 (with camping options). Head to Basilicahudson.org to learn more.
In a mutual statement, Ben Greenberg and Michael Berda, members of the cutting-edge Brooklyn-based industrial minimalist rock duo Uniform stated: “It’s an honor to be part of this year’s Basilica Soundscape. To be included among so many thriving artists and musicians is quite humbling. It is a privilege to get to play music for people at all, but to be asked to play at a festival that is as meticulously curated and well-thought out as Basilica is kind of nuts. We are truly grateful for the opportunity.”
I named the column “Uniform Choice” this week obviously after the old-school SoCal hardcore band who released Screaming For Change, but also because it is ironic how many festivals with a plethora of artists still come off as, well, increasingly uniform. As Pat Dubar is screaming from my speakers right now, “It’s all the fuckin’ same!” No thanks.
Basilica gets it right with a very cool use of location, a range of brainier or more visceral acts and no risk of songs about someone who made “that bitch” Taylor Swift famous. Seriously, Yeezy went sharply downhill on his new record. I can’t believe some publications ranked The Life of Pablo above Bowie’s Blackstar this year.
Well, I am going to be headed to Europe this week for about 10 days, but the column will be published next week as usual. I’m heading to Estonia to see family, hopefully get to hang with Finnish hardcore band Kohti Tuhoa (recent Southern Lord signees who are wonderfully, unlistenably caustic) and to full-circle mourn my dad’s passing in the place of his birth. It should be wonderful and intense. I hope you all get by without my face just fine the next 10 days, though my absence will be a relief for some.
I did get a good dose of Kingston crazy though to send me off, as last weekend’s sudden near-hurricane gusts and downpour found a gaggle of LARPers — costumed elves, wizards and warriors — cram into Stockade Tavern out of the rain for a surreal experience. That’s what we are all here for in our nightlife, right? A break from the routine or even the comfort of good company among like-minded good-time seekers, looking to make the world more colorful, interesting and electric.
RIP Alan Vega. Cheers.