I just attended and performed at the Electro-Music 2010 festival in NY. It was my first time at this festival and I thought I’d share a “show report”.
The marketing copy from the Electro-Music site describes the Electro-Music festival as follows:
Dubbed the "Woodstock of Electronic Music" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, it features three full days of musical performances, video art, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, and jam sessions…These events have been noted for their incredibly diverse assembly of talent, enthusiastic support for innovative and unique artists, and overall positive, cooperative and fun atmosphere.”
Did the festival live up to this description? Absolutely! It was just fantastic and I’ll definitely try and get back there next year. Before I go into detail I’ll just say up front that if you are passionate about electronic music in any way, you’ll find something at this festival for you.
The festival started in 2005 in is an outgrowth of the world-wide electro-music.com community. The festival has rotated through various locations throughout the years. The first few years were in Cheltenham PA, then it moved to Kingsport TN in 2008, Bloomingdale NJ in 2009, and this year was at the remote Greenhill YMCA retreat in Huguenot, NY. This site is also a sleep away camp for kids.
All the events were in one building the main lodge which was really convenient.
As you can see from the next picture, the site was simply gorgeous. Of course being electronic musicians we spent a lot of time all our time inside :^).
Ticket options were a 1 day pass for $35 a day, or a 3 Day pass for $350 which included lodging and meals. I’m really glad I opted for the 3-day pass as this allowed more time to get to know other artists as well as share meals.
Lodging and Meals
For those who opted for lodging, it was a fun flashback to summer camp. When we checked in we received sheets, wool blankets, pillow, pillow case, washcloth, towels and soap and were assigned a building and a room mate. Each room had it’s own bathroom and shower. The room was plenty decent enough considering I was up till like 1:00 a.m. every night and just used the room for sleeping. There was too much going on to be hanging out in the room.
Venue and Format
As you can see from the image below, the format staggered concerts and ran parallel to lectures in the library. There was a jam room in the basement and Stage 2 was used for jams in the mornings as well.
In addition to these events there were DIY projects, laptop battles (the winner got to play Sunday night on the main stage) and more.
Basically, I got up at 8:00 a.m. and was busy till 1:00 a.m. every day!
The event was extremely well organized! The organizers, volunteers, and artist volunteers did an amazing job keeping things flowing and were able to maintain the schedule with only a few minor exceptions – and then got back on track quickly.
Presenter and Performer’s Perspective
As a performer flying in with all my gear in carry-on bags, I was a little worried about what type of support there would be at the festival since I left a lot of my supporting lights and PA gear at home. I was worrying for nothing and it ended up the support at the show was just amazing.
The rooms were very well equipped with projectors, mixers, mics, mic stands, stand-alone amps, and power strips. Here is a shot of Dale Parson (my roommate) in the Library giving a lecture on “Mapping Language Structures to Musical Phrases”.
The Theater and Stage 2 had computer-based live digital motion graphics rigs. The Theater had ample lighting and floor monitors. Below is a shot of Edison’s Ephemera performing in the Theater.
If you didn't have a visual component for you show and wanted one, there were visual artists on hand for each room that quickly customized some visuals to support the performance. This was a really nice touch and made life easier for performers like Glenn Henriksen who flew in from Norway and could not bring his light show (including lasers) on the plane.
Stage 2 had the computer-based motion graphics option as well.
It had a much smaller but adequate ambient lighting system made up of small LED lights on the floor that would slowly rotate through colors. The picture below is a bit fuzzy, but you can see the LED floor lights that were provided (shot was taken before house lights were turned down).
In my case, I didn’t need the supporting motion graphics as I generate visual feedback from my controllers – but the ambient lighting was great and enhanced my performance as you can see from the shot below (photo by Jeremy dePrisco).
The Theater and Stage 2 had dedicated volunteers (many of whom were also performing at the festival) to help performers get setup and then would run sound for the performer. This strategy really helped performers start on-time and keep track of time.
In the lobby there was a merchandise table right near check-in. Volunteers who were running check-in and event merchandising also managed artists sales – fantastic!
The Library doubled as a swap meet during part of the festival offering some interesting items for DIY and circuit bending.
The Downstairs room was used for jams and things like a Lunetta Workshop.
Because the festival was in a more remote location than in past years there was little opportunity for walk-in spectators. The upside of this is that most of the attendees were experts. By expert, I mean seasoned artists with over 10,000 hours of experience and in some cases decades of energy put into their craft. As a result the vibe was amazing. Have you ever seen the SciFi channel show Eureka? It was like that for electronic music. It didn’t seem intimidating for newer artists either, as everyone was also very open and willing to share ideas and talk in depth about their work. There was a huge diversity in styles, performance, and approach and a whole lot of passion!
I didn’t know anyone in the Electro-Music community before I got there. It didn’t matter. Organizers and other artists made me feel right at home the minute I got there. So I entered as a stranger and exited as a friend and feel I’m now part of the Electro-Music “tribe”.
So to recap - I saw amazing performances, had a great time performing, learned new things at sessions, picked up lots of tips and ideas, had a blast playing jams, sold/bought/traded CDs and ended up discovering some great new music. The festival offered a unique opportunity to meet electronic music artists and enthusiasts from all over the US and around the world. I also ended up bumping into some twitter and Modulate This friends I’d never met in person before.
In the end I made some great new friends who I look forward to learning from and sharing ideas and art with for years to come.
Here’s to Electro-Music 2011!
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO