Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Catalpa Festival @ Randall's Island (Day 1)

Catalpa Festival @ Randall’s Island - July 28, 2012
Photos: Geanna B. and James MacFie / Review: Geanna B.

Renaissance Fairs are great, we know this much is true. Where else can you eat delicious turkey legs while donning your favorite crushed velvet garments and lamenting the devastation of the Bubonic Plague? Probably nowhere, actually. But even in the midst of all this Humanist fun, there is one major thang that the Renaissance inarguably lacks: the presence of Snoop D-O-G-G and his historic album, Doggystyle.

Lucky for us, Catalpa NYC was there last weekend to fill the void. But what is Catalpa, exactly? And how did it get its name? And how are we to pronounce said name? And why were there no cats involved? AND WHERE WERE THE BRISKET TACOS?! All of these questions remain unanswered, but we did give it a Google, just for good measure:

Catalpa is a genus of flowering plants in the trumpet vine family, native to warm temperate regions of North America, the Caribbean, and East Asia.

It’s also apparently a place in Iowa. Huh.

But we digress (again). Arriving on Saturday afternoon to overcast skies and a general sense of allovertheplace-ness, we quickly did a lap around the grounds to get our bearings. Confusion arose when the stage #3, the Arcadia Stage, was nowhere to be found. Where had all those DJs gone? We endeavored to get to the bottom of this added mystery, but were sidetracked by black currant lemonade and grilled cheese sandwiches. Cheese: The Great Sedater.

Given the varied lineup and even more varied audience, we knew we were in for something different. The first band we caught up with was The Demos. Upbeat and dance-y, this was exactly what I needed to pick me up by my flop straps and get me into the festival swing of things. Then, the rain came. In full-on downpour mode. From across the field came the echoes of Zola Jesus, who sound like some tripped out version of Lana Del Rey. I don't know if it was the hole in my umbrella or the mud in my toes, but it felt like their set went on for a looooong time. Once the clouds parted and this droning time-warp ended, we flitted like hummingbirds between sets by The Sheepdogs and Hercules and Love Affair. My dad (who most of you should be quite familiar with by now) would fucking love The Sheepdogs and their brand of classic, sounds-like-the-Allman-Brothers rock. Shit, most of those guys even look like my dad in his heyday. Yep, heyday.

Finally, FINALLY, it was time for TV on the Radio. As the band took the stage, it certainly seemed like this was the more anticipated event of the night (although I'm not sure how many people were over at the double-set-jam-funk-out that is Umphreys McGee). I have officially now seen TVotR in every possible type of venue - they never disappoint. Mixing a lil' bit of everything, they gave us "Repetition", "Golden Age", "Wolf Like Me", and "Staring at the Sun". Tunde's spastic, beat-driven dance was in full-effect throughout as the sun began to disappear. My only complaint was that the set was a tragically insufficient 40-minutes long. Definitely, definitely not enough.

Closing out the evening were The Black Keys. Playing basically every festival known to man this year, they took off with their uber-popular "Howlin' For You," before moving on to their other catchy-pop-blues tunes. The crowd loved the shit out of them, and you couldn't help but get swept up in the energy, even while trying to dance in a huge, slippery field of mud.

We trudged home, giddy as schoolgirls with excitement for Sunday's festivities. For now, check out some very rainy photos below. There's more to come people, so jus' chill, 'til the next episode...

The Demos
The Sheepdogs
Hercules and Love Affair
Ponchos, ponchos, everywhere!
TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio


  1. They played the requisite "Hang Me Up to Dry," as well as the very bittersweet, "We Used to Vacation," in addition to giving us some newer tracks to sink our teeth into. As their set ended, the band thanked everyone for sticking it out with them through the weather - but honestly, I think the rain only added to the fun.

  2. Catalpa is a genus of flowering plants in the trumpet vine family, native to warm temperate regions of North America, the Caribbean, and East Asia.

  3. Ooohh, Just wanted to respond. I thoroughly loved your post. Keep up the great work. :)


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