The Hudson Project Festival's First Year Had a Good Start, Got Muddy, Canceled Final Day
The inaugural Hudson Project, a music festival in New York's Hudson Valley inspired by Woodstock, experienced an eerily similar finale as the infamous '94 fest.
It was the first music festival to be held on Winston Farm in Saugerties since "Mudstock" was held twenty years ago, which drew roughly 350,000 people and ended in chaotic anarchy. #MudsonProject was decidedly smaller and more organized, but still a rough and abrupt ending for disappointed concertgoers, some of whom were still having their cars towed out of the muddy grounds this morning, more than 12 hours after the festival was cancelled Sunday due to severe thunderstorms. Attendees still stuck on-site are reportedly now facing a food and water shortage.
As festival organizers struggled to evacuate attendees, many took their outrage to Twitter where they cited other festivals, like last year's Governor's Ball, that soldiered on through similar downpours. Although attendance was expected to be around 20,000, the crowd was noticeably thinner on Sunday likely due to ominous weather reports and the looming work week. Making matters stickier, state police announced dozens of drug arrests just as the festival came to an early close.
"We regret having to cancel any performance," said Jonathan Fordin of MCP Presents, the promoter behind the festival, in a statement, "but safety always comes first."
But it wasn't all bad. The first two days were sunny and smooth, with the exception of a flash rainshower during Big Gigantic, one of Saturday evening's biggest draws, that seemed to delight more than disappoint the crowd.
During an interview before their set, Big Gigantic producer Dominic Lalli said they were drawn to the festival because of its aim to pick up where the historic Woodstock festivals left off. The Colorado group has amassed a cult following to its live shows similar to Bassnectar and The Disco Biscuits, and makes most of its money from touring rather than album or track sales, he said.
"We're a live act," Lalli said, "so festival culture is what keeps us moving. This felt like our generation's 'go' at the whole Woodstock vibe, in our own way, so we're beyond excited to be here."
Reflecting the times, the Hudson Project's 83-act line-up was steeped in electronic music and hip-hop, with an emphasis on major, though not necessarily mainstream, DJs and rappers like Moby, Flying Lotus, GRiZ, and Kendrick Lamar, who performed in front of a live band. Smaller stages spotlighted slightly off-beat producers like Los Angeles DJ Tokimonsta, who thanked the crowd for letting her "get weird," and Jon Hopkins, a British producer who performed his own ambient-tinged material at sunset.
"I like these smaller, more intimate festivals," Hopkins said in an interview with Billboard Saturday afternoon. "People are curious and want to poke their head around a bit. I have a very specific sound, and it isn't for everyone. But here, you can wander and see things that might surprise you."
After Sunday's cancellation, many took to social media to beg the night's headliner, Bassnectar, to play a make-up show later that night, offering their homes, backyards, school parking lots, and even their mom's cooking. He flirted with the idea of playing at Webster Hall, with free admission for those with a Hudson Project wristband, but the space was ultimately deemed too small.
In a display of sympathy, Farm Fest is offering a $27 discount on gate tickets to anyone wearing a Hudson Project wristband. That takes place in Vernon, N.J., later this month.