words and pictures by joe zorzi and brendan hourican
Let’s just start out by saying, what a hell of a car ride. Driving through Manhattan is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and paying the toll for the Lincoln Tunnel should be optional (I pretended it was).
Our introduction to the first ever Catalpa Festival was a gentle pat down by security and a chance to win $45,000 from the friendly people at Jeep. We ended up hanging with the Jeep folks for quite some time while they demonstrated how badass jeeps are these days. We signed up for an obstacle course ride which ended up saving us from the monsoon outside.
There was a lot of cool stuff going down at this place. Frisky’s Church of Sham Marriages was hilarious. People were getting married to friends, significant others or anyone else they could find. One of the coolest parts of Catalpa was the silent disco tent where people were partying with headphones on. The set up was pretty great; it was easy getting from stage to stage to catch each acts. They should’ve cut the grass though. There’s always next year.
Here’s our back and forth on Saturday’s bands:
The Aviation Orange
Joe: These guys were cool.
Brendan: I liked their sound. They should have let their music speak for itself. Especially the keyboardist. It seemed like she watched some, “how to have stage presence” videos on youtube before the show.
Joe: She was just trying to be sexy bro.
Brendan: She would have been more sexy if she played keyboards and sang normally.
Joe: I thought she had a good voice. She just made the sexy face. Anyway, they had a good sound overall I’d say. The electronics carried a lot of the songs.
Brendan: Agreed. I think their spot in this festival was appropriate and they have good potential.
Joe: Yes. Onto the next one.
Brendan: This band was fun to watch. They reminded me of the band from the movie “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.” Naturally, I was interested.
Joe: I thought they were pretty rad. And they used to play shows with the Hoodies because they’re from Rochester. And my first show was with The Hoodies. So bonus points for the Demos.
Brendan: I knew about The Demos through The Hoodies too, but only realized I was actually watching the Demos once they said their name halfway through their set. I was glad to see a smaller band I knew at a new festival in New York. Their live performances of the songs were even more fun to listen to than the recordings.
Joe: Zola Jesus was BADASS. You could tell she was really just giving it her all.
Brendan: She sounded different than any live artist I have seen. I loved her intensity and the songs were very creative. I think her thunderous drums may have brought actual thunder though, because her set was plagued but torrential rains. She reminded me of Florence and the Machine but a little darker, which I really liked The worst weather of the weekend was definitely during her set. But it made it even cooler, people were still out there loving it.
Hercules & Love Affair
Joe: I’m not quite sure what we witnessed here.
Brendan: And I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. It seemed like there was no substance in the music and the show was mostly for shock value.
Joe: It was entertaining though. I don’t know why they had those dancers but I thought the whole set was pretty funny. People seemed to dig it though, there was some dancing going on. When the girl started orgasming on stage… that was kind of weird.
Brendan: That was weird and forced, but I guess that was in the itinerary for the set and it had to be done! The crowd seemed to be getting into it, so good for Hercules and Love Affair.
Joe: Good for them! Yes!
Joe: Okay so this was my third time seeing them this summer. Before Bonnaroo I had never really heard of them, but holy shit are they good! They’re already topping my favorite live bands list. So yeah, I definitely hyped them up for you beforehand Brendan.
Brendan: These guys were obviously pros. People really loved them and they proved to be great musicians. Although I couldn’t fully wrap my head around them right away, after I accepted them as who they were, I really enjoyed their set and the second one was even better.
Joe: Yeah, the first set was good but the second one was what I was really expecting. A lot more heavy riffs and just really getting in the groove. Just watching their communication on stage is amazing.
TV on the Radio
Joe: I was into this. A lot.
Brendan: I really loved their sound. I had never heard of them before, but I got into most of their songs and they were fun to watch on stage.
Joe: I’ve heard their name but never listened. Definitely want to check out some of their albums though, they put on a really energetic show.
The Black Keys
Brendan: By the time the Black Keys were about to go on, everyone at the festival congregated in the mud pit in front of the stage, anticipating the new found superstars.
Joe: Cool dude. Yeah everyone was pumped it was pretty exciting.
Brendan: They came out with a bang, playing exactly what everyone was waiting for, which was loud rock and roll songs.
Joe: After a few songs everyone in the band left the stage except Dan and Patrick. Even as just the two of them they really kept a big sound and the energy levels up.
Brendan: It was really cool how they demonstrated their ability to play with just them two. And when the full band came back on, i think everyone was ready for that too.
Joe: Yeah, it was a great segway back into full band. They played the perfect amount of songs by themselves to construct an interesting arc of their set.
Felix Da Housecat
Joe: We saw a little bit of Felix. I felt bad for him, he said he drove 6 hours away and there was only about thirty people watching his set. I think it really screwed him over that he played on the High Times stage because nobody knew he would be there. He was supposed to play on Arcadia but that stage mysteriously wasn’t present at Catalpa. Another weird part about his set was that for the time we were there, there were no lights. You can’t be DJing with no lights. I don’t know if that was on purpose or not.
Brendan: It’s a shame that the stage he was supposed to play on got shut down, because he could have had a much better turn out. Despite the confusion, kids got into the music and enjoyed themselves.
Joe: It’s all about the kids.
- High Times Stage – reggae all day
- orange drank
- Jeep obstacle course
- Magic Hat truck
- Silent Disco
- head shops
- beer – Absolute tent, Heineken Igloo
- Frisky’s Church of Sham Marriages
- Art Installations – couldn’t find them
- Chinese food, pizza, gyros, cheesesteaks, burgers, ice cream sandwiches, coffee