The Big Up Festival: Friday

Words By Brett R. Crossley
Photos By Jon Irvin

The scenic drive over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge signaled we were within an hour of our intended destination. The bridge's snail like speed limit added some clarity into its name along with doing little to calm our eagerness to reach the festival. We were now on the final leg of our journey to The Big Up Music Festival at Sunnyview Farm in Ghent, New York.

The mist against the lighted backdrop as we approached created silhouettes of the friendly staff about to greet us at the media tent. Unfortunately, because of our fashionably planned arrival the supply of laminated press passes had exceeded limit and we were forced to go at it with red wrist bands as opposed to the normal green. The slight mix up ended up being the least of our concerns after we attempted to assemble the campsite in the dark.

After our campsite was assembled with minimal light from the moon and one LED flashlight, we marched out of the woods to find our first show of the night. Once the necessary supplies were together, we moved to the indoor venue to watch the last couple songs of horiZonwireLess' set which had the early crowd buzzing.

The venue was easily spotted thanks to the neon paintings lining the walls of the Shangri-La barn and the ultra sleek lighting system. Also emanating from the barn turned music stage was an unusual amount of smoke which we later discovered was a smoke machine located behind the bands. Shame on you if you believed it was smoke from anything other than a smoke machine.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus followed with an incredibly upbeat set. The band transitioned from long jammy tracks to faster up-tempo guitar heavy cuts.
UV Hippos' set opened with a bang which ripped through the audience like a sonic boom. Heads snapped up in attention after the first couple notes strummed on the guitar hit with an incredibly bright flash from the lights. The band's make-up featured two guitars (both transitioned from lead to rhythm), a bass guitar (always essential), keyboards, and two drum sets (a standard drum kit along with a bongo set).

The light show provided a whole new dimension to the set as it danced with the notes from the stage in shades of blue and red. The band's musical shifts were met flawlessly with each changing sequence in the light spectacle. The band shifted from an up-tempo song with vocal hooks to long, trippy jams showing many in attendance why they are one of the fastest growing bands on the scene.

Their set ended with a morphed version of a Russian dance which had the crowd kicking their legs in the air with folded arms. The only thing missing were oversized fur hats and long thick beards. The song was a perfect way to closeout the set as the crowd could interact more with the music displaying Russian dancing skills and clapping along to the beat. The dancing was far from synchronized, but the effects were positive as people moved and encouraged others to join the fun. A brief 'thank you' was then shouted to the fans which meant the weekend was officially underway, at least for us.

After some sampling from DJs to keep the crowd moving while bands swapped stages, the Breakfast opened and took the energy down a bit with a much more mellow sound when compared to UV Hippos' over-the-top ending dance song. The Breakfast was led by it's guitarist who took center stage, literally, during most of the featured longer jams of the set. They opened with their vocals doing most of the work, but went on with limited singing and substituted vocals from more instrumental leads.

The jams continued as the lights followed each of their movements on stage as cameramen in front of the stage jockeyed for position. The Breakfast’s second song gave the crowd something to fist pump with as they used a fast paced beat and hook to amp up the early crowd.

The dancing and energy from the crowd almost induced a spill of my recently purchased Magic Hat from the beer’s vendor tent located near the outside venues. Along with offering an enjoyable selection of beers, the group of Magic Hatters offered games and prizes too with a wide selection of drinks. The near spill might not have brought the show to a screeching halt, but it would end the life of an extremely tasty beverage.

Whatever troubles I, or my beer, were having on stage, the third song in The Breakfast’s set made up for it. As my slight beer buzz began to take ahold, I was approached by a guy who asked me if I was the bassist for Particle. It saddened me to inform him that I was not the guy he was looking for, but it was a nice way to break the ice.

We started to chit chat as he told me he just arrived from Colorado and literally came from the airport to the festival. Colorado then offered me a beer as my Magic Hat finally disappeared with the last sip now resting inside my stomach. I cringed at the thought of following a tasty Magic Hat with a Bud Lite, but like the old saying goes, “there’s nothing bad about a free beer”. And I was more than happy to accommodate the beverage.

Breakfast broke into it's third song which sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was after the song started I realized there was a giant monkey painted in neon colors dancing in front of the band. I continued to hold my spot behind the stage and thanked Colorado for the beer.

The Breakfast Live at The Big Up Festival on August 5, 2010.

The set continued in much the same fashion rocking the crowd and getting them ready for a long, enjoyable weekend. The Breakfast broke from their last song and yelled to the crowd, “This place has some great energy and we’re picking up the vibes! It’s going to be a great weekend!”

Emancipator followed which helped The Breakfast’s statement about a great weekend as it seemed all the more true. It was at this point the drive in, setting up camp in the dark, and a long day of music began to creep up and tire us out. Emancipator was definitely an act I was excited to checkout so I knew it was going to take a little extra push to make it though the show. Emancipator accomplished that little push as his first song hit and sent the room back into neon colored dance parades.

The true party people of the festival rocked Emancipators hour long set of spacey jams and mixes which seemed to take on a much more personal level as he mixed them live on stage. Emancipator’s music lacks vocals, but that certainly didn’t take away from the emotion behind every track. The skill displayed as he landed a nice punchy bass line into his song was unbelievable. Emancipator also surprised many when he whipped out his guitar to add even more depth to his music.

I met up with Jon after the show and we both were blown away at the first night of music. When I came to the festival I truly thought that nonstop music might have been a little much for three days of coverage, but after the first night, it might not be enough.

Along with boasting and an incredibly nice group of people working their butts off, the Big Up clearly thought of those in attendance as the first night of music left many wanting more. After the first day of music, I couldn’t have agreed more with The Breakfast when they said, “It’s going to be a great weekend!”


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