This past Monday we headed up to Saratoga Springs, NY (about an hour north of Albany) for the first annual “WEQX fest”. WEQX is a local alternative station that has been around for many years, and is sadly the only independent radio station left on the East Coast! They decided to host a music festival at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in the Saratoga state park.
The weather was gorgeous albeit steamy, and the day was filled with great live music. Unfortunately the headliners, Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party (THE Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction fame), backed out due to personnel changes at the last minute, but we still got to rock out to some excellent perfomers.
There were LOTS of teenagers there and at first we felt a little old to be there; but I mean, c’mon, this wasn’t Britney Spears fest! However later in the day we saw some older folks (and some OLDER folks, like a sassy granny who was moshing along to Shiny Toy Guns!), so it made us feel better:)There were 3 stages for the event, a small stage where local lesser-knowns could show of their talents, a small stage for “opening performers” out in the west field, and the main BIG stage where the headlining bands were to perform.
At the local stage (EQXposure), the bands that played were Sunset Aside, Maggie Mayday, the Loyalty and Lughead. Sunset Aside was most unimpressive, they appeared to be a bunch of 13 year olds screaming like lunatics and not even sounding harmonious. The Loyalty were decent, Maggie Mayday and Lughead sounded best. It was nice to let some local bands get their name out there.
The West Stage perfomers included The Urgency, Shiny Toy Guns, and TV on the Radio.
The Urgency was a decent festival band; they were cute and energetic but really had nothing unique to offer. It was very cute, however, that one band members’ dad was there to pass out website info to everyone and to brag about his son’s band :).
Shiny Toy Guns did a bang-up job performing, despite the stereo system blowing out through the second song and the sound being quite damaged thereafter. They had incredible energy and were very personable–no diva-esque complaining about the sound system here. They didn’t quite fit the festival genre (they’re more the kind of music you’d expect to see in a crowded disco hall with strobelights) but they put on a great show and were pretty badass. The male lead singer looked like a benevolent, chubbier Russell Crowe, and the female lead looked like a tiny little girl-but she could pack a punch with her voice!
TV on The Radio put on an extremely impressive performance. They were an unusual looking bunch-the lead singer was a tall, gangly fellow wearing giant orange glasses and a messenger boy cap, and he did this cool/odd movement of hopping/dashing across the stage when he sang. One of the guitarists looked a bit like Frodo, and had chimes on the end of his guitar, which led to a jangly effect not unlike the guitars of Sonic Youth. Sweet! The other guitarist and vocalist had a prolific beard, so much so that Chris and I decided to affectionately dub him “Beard Al Yankovich”. We had only known this band from their one radio hit, “Wolf Like Me”, but from hearing them live we have a whole new appreciation for their eclectic sound, their energy and their musical “depth” if you will. It was a sweltering, cloudless hour that they perfomed on stage and the sunlight was directly pointing at the lead singer, who looked like at any minute he’d pass out. He kept on going, and instead of guzzling down the six bottles of Poland Spring that were left next to his microphone, he generously doused them on the hot concert goers, joking, “This concert was brought to you by Poland Spring, everyone!”. That’s love. And I’d be remiss to not mention that I love them even more because the title of their latest album is called “Return to Cookie Mountain”.
After a short break, we all headed into the big main stage for the “main event”. The starting perfomer was the Nightwatchman, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. He was the most passionate perfomer we saw at the festival, putting his entire body and soul into his politically-based songs. All I can say was “Wow”. Who else but a former Rage Against the Machine Member could get a crowd moshing to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”?.
The next perfomer was Matisyahu. Forgive me for being so cliche as to use text message language, but can I just say–to see him live–OMG!! He was wow,wow wow. Damn, that hassidic jew got soul! He can beatbox like the rest of them and get us all swooning to his reggae jams in the evening breeze. His guitarist gets five stars for blowing us away with his energy. Matisyahu had a couple of great guests, including another beatboxing friend and a hassidic buddy who hopped around stage for a couple songs and got the crowd going.
When all was said and done it was nearly 10 pm and we decided not to stay for 311. No offense to 311, but we decided since we had a long drive home and Satellite Party wasn’t going to perfom, we should head home.
All in all, a great fest and a great day! Pics with comments to come soon.
Thanks for reading, y’all; we love ya!