The Big Up 2011: Day One

Words & Photos By Jon Irvin
Hoping to get a choice campsite, we got an early jump for our somewhat short trip up the NY countryside. Last years late evening arrival pushed us off the main wooded camping so I guaranteed leaving eight hours earlier would fix that... wrong! We arrived at Sunnyview Farm shortly after 1:00 PM and were greeted with somewhat of a nice line already formed; I could already tell this year attendance would be bigger than last year’s inaugural event. I shouldn’t complain after I spent three-plus hours waiting in line at All Good, but when you expect to float right in, a little stalled action can be frustrating. After getting our car searched, harder than Columbus searching for the New World, we were on our way to hunt for perfect campsite location. Once we reached the wooded camping section, I could tell that spots were limited. The entire left section that had been almost uninhabited last year was already backed up further than where we were camped last year…so much for leaving earlier!
After a few trips to unload our stuff, we set up camp and prepared ourselves for the dubstep filled weekend. We strolled around aimlessly taking in all of the new additions that the gang from Shireworks had for us this year. I wondered in the weeks leading up what they could have up their sleeve, and within the first five minutes of our walk I saw it. A mere 100 yards away was the coolest woods stage I have seen. It resembled Sherwood Forest from the famed Rothbury gatherings but on a smaller scale.  Late night jam sessions just a few steps away should make for some interesting rages.
The first can’t miss act of the day hit the stage shortly after dusk. I have seen The Indobox on numerous occasions and I knew what to expect, an extremely catchy 80s sound brought to the world of jam that surely would kick off the weekend in grand fashion. The boys from Boston failed to disappoint once again and threw down a great set filled with originals as well as a cover of MGMT’s song “Kids” that left the crowd singing and dancing. 

Dirty Paris played some good background music as the crowd began to grow for Marco Benevento, the first headliner of the weekend. I remember Marco pulling out late from last year's Big Up, so I was thrilled to finally see him live. Who doesn’t like a man that can jam on the piano?  Powered by a bottle of Makers Mark, Benevento charmed the ever growing crowd with his mastery on the ivory keys. I’m not too familiar with Marco’s material so I patiently waited for songs that I would recognize. When the time came and I heard the beginning of one of my favorites, “Bus Ride”, I was ecstatic, finally something I could really follow along with. To my disappointment, Marco’s piano jam was overshadowed by the bass that was jacked up way too high, such a buzz kill. I waited all night for that song and was left with a salty taste in my mouth. Hopefully our paths will cross again and Mr. Benevento can redeem himself.

After Marco Benevento finished shortly after midnight, it was time to check out a band that I paid little attention to at All Good... Papadosio. Pop-a-dos-yo provided the first late night dance party of the weekend. Already overcrowded, I left the main barn stage and ventured across the path to the barn that was used last year for live artwork. I was pleased to see that they had moved all artwork outside and now used the space for a dance room filled with smoke machines and a trippy lightshow. For most of the weekend I chilled in this room to enjoy the music from the adjacent barn stage, but between the packed crowd and overwhelming smell of patchouli, vapor rub, and BO, it was a little too much for the olfactory glands. I chilled inside for awhile, bobbing along to the jams that were laid down by a band that is quickly gaining steam on the jam band scene.
After a day filled with driving, setting up, and good tunes, I was spent. I stumbled through the muffled dubstep coming from everywhere and made my way to the tent. Unfortunately I missed Jeff Bujak’s late night set, but I knew that I could catch him playing in Normal Instruments tomorrow afternoon on the woods stage. Day one in the books, two more days of crunchiness await!!!
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