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Hudson Project Recap

So I’m sitting here on Monday morning and struggling to recap the last 72 (ish?) hours. It’s a lot to sum up in a blog post, and I’m beat.

I wasn’t in shape before, and three nights of sleeping on hard ground at Winston Farm after hours of dancing my ass off have taken their toll. A lot has been and will be said about The Hudson Project, but it was definitely an experience felt nowhere else.

Thursday: Midnight Drive
Peter (of Hear Hear Mix), Kirsten (of The Cat’s Pajamas), and I all drove up from Philadelphia Thursday evening. The drive was mostly uneventful, other than being in a huge hurry because our press contact told us that we wouldn’t be able to get access after midnight.

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There’s a reason this picture was of Peter and not the speedometer.

Direct quote from PR person: “If it was a more reasonable time, we would have been able to make arrangements.”
Midnight!? Really? As if anyone in Saugerties was going to sleep all weekend. Their petulant inability to “make arrangements” really freaked us out, but we ended up getting access just fine.

This miscommunication would not be the last. Security didn’t let anyone into the festival grounds until 4AM, and it wasn’t clear why. We set up camp and crashed, hard.

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DJ Kirsten was very asleep. Also note Peter’s cardboard sleeping pad.

 

Friday: Waiting For The Drop

Highlights of Friday’s sets: Lindsay Lowend was great. Moon Hooch laid down a whole lotta echo on their funky dueling sax setup, making their live show a lot more dubby than I expected. I briefly caught up with the power trio of Wenzl McGowen, Mike Wilbur, and James Muschler backstage. The interview was short – here’s the 30-second version:

WKDU: Your instrumentation features drums and dueling saxophones. If you were to have another band featuring dueling instruments, what would they be?
WM: Dueling rottweilers.
MW: Probably not the most [PETA]-friendly answer, but yeah. Rottweilers.
JM: More drums.
WKDU: Awesome.
Dr. Dog played a perfect set. Later, Emancipator, Bro Safari, and the Flaming Lips closed out my night of diverse tunes. I missed Flying Lotus, but apparently his set was foggy and spaced-out; a propos for his midnight to 2am slot.

Saturday: Bass Cave

We didn’t make it in the venue until 4, to see Flatbush Zombies. After that, Peter and I hunkered down with some chicken wings at the Catskill Cave tent for Bit Funk, Jacques Green, and Tokimonsta. Afterwards, we met back up with Shannen (of Rock Bottom), Kirsten, and some others for Big Gigantic.

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Big Gigantic overlooks the massive main stage crowd. Courtesy Kevin Earle – MCP Presents

The rain came first in the middle of Big Gigantic’s set. A truly euphoric moment. The rain poured as Big G tore into drops with saxophonic ferocity. It really was a sight to see.

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Kendrick Lamar during his set at the Hudson Project. Photo courtesy of Kevin Earle – MCP Presents

Kendrick Lamar played all his usual hits, but there was something missing from his set. It didn’t help that he ended twenty minutes early, but his attempts at audience participation didn’t seem well received. I dunno, it might have just been me. Gold Panda was chillen’ as usual. I closed out the night with a healthy portion of Four Tet.

 

Sunday: The Floodson Project
The majority of Sunday was spent doing two things: waking up, and packing up. After that was all done, we managed to catch most of Chrome Sparks, which was awesome. They played a significant amount of new material, and returned for a surprise encore. “We’ve never played this song before” is definitely one of the most exciting things a performing artist can say.

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Chillen to Chromesparks. Photo courtesy Peter Liu

Peter and I were throwing it down in Catskill Cave to Issac Tichauer. We decided to go for a food break, when all acts stopped playing and a voice came over the soundsystem announcing an evacuation and delay. Holy crap! We met up with Shannen and Kirsten, and made friends with the crew who set up one of the stage tents. Security kicked everyone out of the campgrounds, and we waited out the storm in the tent crew’s box truck.

 

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Party in the Penske.

These guys were awesome. I’m reminded of the Henry Rollins quote – “They were there hours before you building the stage, and they will be there hours after you leave tearing it down.” Super down to earth.

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Mudslide disco!

What followed was total anarchy. Nobody, even staff, was sure if the festival was still on. On hills between campgrounds, mudslides started to break out. Generators and portable soundsystems brought by campers, vendors, and whoever else ensured the party would go on. Security lines were broken. Fences were getting torn down. It was clear that nobody was gonna turn down for Mother Nature.

We were getting ready to leave when we stumbled upon an impromptu dance party in the middle of the RV camping area. The occupants of a purple school bus (The Quetzal Bus, @thequetzalbus on twitter) were burnin’ it down with fat beats. In particular, I was able to track down this remix that made it into the set. Butts were shakin’. The party was not over.

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The Quetzal Bus.

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Revelers lower a makeshift shelter over the DJ booth at the Quetzal Bus.

 

We headed home once it started raining again. Our car didn’t get stuck in the muddy parking lot, but many, many others did. Reports came back on Monday of local farmers pulling out cars with tractors. As of Tuesday morning, there were still people stuck on Winston Farm. Damn.

The Hudson Project’s inaugural year was a rough one, but nearly everyone I talked to had fun. With a stacked lineup, decent amenities, and a beautiful venue, The Hudson Project had a lot to offer. Cancelling the last day was probably a smart move, considering the safety implications. It was also just announced that ticket holders will be getting refunded for the last day. Very appropriate, considering the huge amount of artists who were cancelled.
How was your time at the Hudson Project? Let us know.

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Reggae Marathon Re-Cap: Sweet Daddy Fish & Duprex Snape Break Down the History of Reggae on WKDU

By Chris Burrell

If you listen to WKDU regularly, you know that we don’t take reggae lightly – we currently have eight reggae shows on our schedule for the summer term. The only way that kind of support for one specific genre can exist is through cultivating a grassroots and dedicated listener base over many years.

The reggae marathon, which takes place every Memorial Day weekend, was instrumental in forming such a strong reggae listener base and connection with the Caribbean community in West Philly. Now in its 31st year, the reggae marathon is still going strong, as over 30 DJ’s from West Philly and beyond came out and fundraised in support of WKDU and the Red Cross Jamaica to be a part of the 100+ hour marathon.

On Saturday afternoon of the marathon, I was able to catch up with Clinton Fishley (aka Sweet Daddy Fish) to chat about the history of the event. Fishley has been involved with the marathon for 29 of its 31 years, and is heavily entrenched in the reggae scenes in West Philly and Germantown.

The reggae marathon started in 1983, when Hopeton Brown, General Manager of the station at the time, gathered DJ’s from Boston, Virginia, New York, Maryland, and beyond to connect through good reggae music and a charitable cause. The success of initial marathons was influential in establishing a large and dedicated listener base that has continued on today, where we still have numerous streams from Jamaican IP addresses each week. I phoned up my friend Duprex Snape of Jamcity Rock, who I go back to back with on Thursday nights, to get the scoop as to how reggae became such a big thing at the station.

“Once reggae was on the air, it just took off, and it was a way to stay connected to people – down in Jamaica and all over.”

Duprex has had his show, Jamcity Rock, on Thursdays from 6-9 PM for 14 years, and keeps a musical focus on the local scene and undisputed classics in the genre. One of the artists Duprex has supported on his show, who was also in the studio on Saturday, was Germantown artist Danny Roots.

Roots was born in Jamaica, grew up in East Flatbush Brooklyn, and made his way to Philly some years ago. He opened up on his musical upbringing to me, and recalled buying his first record, Dr. No Go, in Jamaica for 13 shillings and 6 pence.

This short blog post doesn’t come close to doing justice to the amazing work that these DJ’s have put in connecting the Caribbean community of West Philly through the thousands of hours they’ve logged on-air. If you’re ever looking to learn more about the genre, check out our summer schedule, tune into a reggae show, and call our studio to send BIGUPS to our amazing selectors.

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Concert Review: Perfect Pussy with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Green Dreams, and +HIRS+ @ First Unitarian Church (April 25, 2014)

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Photo courtesy of Megan Matuzak/Tri State Indie. Check out the full gallery below.

By Nick Stropko

5/1/14 update: In a previous version of this post, we mistakenly misgendered the singer of +HIRS+. We sincerely apologize for the error.

I saw much hyped Perfect Pussy at the Church last week, and frankly…I was pretty disappointed. Before I get to their set, though, I’d like to highlight each of the three opening acts, all of whom I enjoyed quite a bit:

+HIRS+, the first group of the night, fit nicely into the ethos of the show (on their Facebook, they describe themselves as being “LGBTQIA, anti-authoritarian, bullshit grind-noise-thrash with PUNK ethics. NO GODS//NO COPS//NO BROS,” which pretty much sums it up). The Philadelphia duo is comprised of a singer, who convincingly screams bloody horror, and a guitar player who shreds along with pulverizing programmed drums. Their short songs are punctuated by found audio recordings that run the gamut from amusing to disturbing. I found their set to be impressive in its sheer volume, energy, and force; the duo maintained an impressive stage presence, pretty much battering the crowd with their sonic onslaught. I dug ‘em. Check out an in-studio they did in WKDU a few years back.

Green Dreams, hailing from Rochester, played a more straightforward hardcore punk set. Regardless, they were impressively tight and boasted some really solid songs. I also majorly enjoyed lead singer Jesse’s vocal delivery—it’s satisfyingly shouty while conveying a fittingly bratty, insolent attitude. Look out for them—they’ve definitely got something here.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan was probably my favorite act of the night. Donning decorative face paint, Chinese silk robes, and bathing themselves in bright white light, Yamantanka // Sonic Titan’s stage presence was something to behold. They meld a variety of disparate genres into a coherent, encompassing vision; throughout their set, I got hints of late-70’s Bowie and some of the darker stuff off Queen II in addition to the more overt stoner/sludge metal and Eastern influences. Able performers, I was equally impressed with their instrumental prowess (there was some killer organ going on) and distinctive stage set-up. Check ‘em out.

All right, so that leaves Syracuse-based headliners Perfect Pussy. I like their new record, Say Yes to Love. Lead singer Merideth Grave’s unhinged shouting pairs very nicely with the feedback laden, low-fi punk instrumentals. However, the elements that make their record an addictingly visceral listen just weren’t there that night. Instead, the Church was enveloped in an overwhelming, ear-shattering wall of feedback. I felt like I was about 50 years old (quick aside—shout out to all the old dudes at the Church with their kids…you all rule) when I asked my friend if she thought the band was having sound problems, or it was intentional. Perhaps they were trying to up the hard-hittingness of their sound with the added noise, but it really just bowled over the tenuous line between melody and raucous din that the band so successfully straddles on their debut record. I really wanted to like their set—the band performed with a reckless abandon on the floor of the Church (hoping to recreate the egalitarian energy of house shows, I presume), but I just couldn’t get beyond the noise.

For additional coverage, check out the gallery below and Megan’s awesome work at Tri State Indie.

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5 Quick Hits from Ultrasound Radio

Look, I don’t have a lot of time here, so I’m just gonna drop a few hints about some beats and beeps I’ve been digging lately—the kind of stuff you can hear with me onUltrasound Radio

  1. St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”—The best Tori Amos song in years (ROFLCOPTER). Sam from Jet Set Radio needs to stop stealing my thunder with this track.
  2. Todd Terje, “Delorean Dynamite”—Did you fall all over Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories last year? Well, pick yourself up and bump your head on It’s Album Time.
  3. Eno + Hyde, “Daddy’s Car”—I haven’t listened to all of Someday World yet, but if the rest of it is as good as this second leak, I think these two newcomers might have a future.
  4. Nikka Costa, “Like a Feather”—Throwback alert! First heard the riff in As Heard on Radio Soulwax Vol. 2 but didn’t know the first place to find it. Now obsessed, thanks to Wil Schade.
  5. The Grid, “Crystal Clear (Clear, Like An Unmuddied Lake)”—Throwback alert! That’s The Orb going HAM on some fellow musicians from the heyday of ambient dub/start of big beat.

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Back to the Retro-Future: How the Sounds of Last Century Are Making the Music of a New Millennium

By: Jonathan Plotkin

You slowly drive your Pontiac Grand Am along the darkened alleys of the underbelly of a diseased city, where neon signs shine permanently half lit through the neverending rain. Or maybe you’re cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in your Ferrari Testarossa Spider, roof down, wind in your hair, shades on even though it’s midnight. Or perhaps you just broke into the mainframe of MegaCORP’s servers and now are currently whizzing your way down the electronic super highway with their top secret files in your grasp. Whatever you find yourself doing right now, the soundtrack to your various exploits all sounds surprisingly familiar and yet new at the same time.

Retro-futuristic music, as I like to call it, is music that sounds like it was written in the 80s but somehow reaches into the future with its sound. It conjures a similar aesthetic to cyperpunk fiction, envisioning a neon-soaked synthesizer-addled future that in some alternate timeline is occurring at this very moment. My first experience with the sound was probably the movie Tron: Legacy, but it wasn’t until a few years later when I saw Drive did I really understand there was more than one artist making music like this. Who would have thought that there was a whole subgenre of people making purely electronic music that emphasized synthesizers as their main body of work, instead of using them just for effects?

What makes retro-future music so unique in my mind is how well it inspires various emotions without any lyrics or even standard song structure. While of course those are never required to make a great track, I find it rather impressive how tracks like “Retrogenesis” by Perturbator or “Hydrogen” by M|O|O|N never fail to make me think I’ve been transported to a decaying city to perform horribly violent crime of some form or another. The pulsing basslines and dark, moody synths conjure up entire cityscapes in my mind that could easily have acted as backgrounds for Blade Runner. Conversely, artists like Kavinsky and Starcadian have a lighter mood in their work. The former’s “Nightcall” (i.e. that song from Drive) and the latter’s album Sunset Blood have a slower beat and generally feel less claustrophobic. They make me want to slow down and take in the sights around me, instead of speeding through the grime to get out of town. Meanwhile, other artists strive for expansive sound. Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner could be argued to have kick-started this entire genre, while Pilotpriest’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack instantly transports the listener to a world light years away from ours, with wide open galaxies where starships zip across the skies and attacks ship burn off the shoulder of Orion.

Of course you can’t classify a huge genre of music like this into 3 groups, despite the vast amount of evidence that supports the validity of the rule of three in writing. Artists like Com Truise make music that sounds more like it belongs in a late 80s or early 90s film about computer hackers where no one really understood how computers worked (like the original Tron or Hackers if the latter didn’t have so much drum and’ bass). Then there’s bands like Kraftwerk, where you wonder if they count as retro-future since it wasn’t retro when they wrote their stuff but they sure sounded like the future. And of course there are composers for indie video game soundtracks, who more and more frequently will post the entire soundtrack on the internet for at home listening. These artists sometimes combine a multitude of genres, from downtempo, to synth, to chiptune to create tracks that in one way, each tell a small part of a larger story.

But now we’re splitting hairs, so who cares? The important thing is that even in this age of easy technology, where everyone who has an internet connection can become a musician, there is still really unique and intriguing stuff out there. Why not pursue sounds of the past to create the music of the future? Retro-futuristic music might inspire you to write the next great cyberpunk novel or just put on a pair of headphones and enjoy the ride. Either way, the sounds are out there, for you to do with them what you will.

Looking to start listening to this genre but are struggling for a good jumping off point? The soundtrack to Drive, though largely an original work composed by Cliff Martinez, has some wonderful tracks by Kavinsky, Chromatics, and more. The Hotline Miami soundtrack is over 90 minutes of pulsing songs by Sun Araw, Jasper Byrne, and many other equally talented artists. Additionally, be sure to tune into Midnight Drive, Tuesdays from midnight to 1 AM with Peter Liu on WKDU 91.7 FM for the best 80s inspired synths, the perfect way to enhance your late-night driving experience.

For a wider range of electronic music, check out Jonathan’s personal show, Dr. Plotkin’s Majikal Love X-Perience, Wednesday nights from 10 PM to midnight on WKDU and be sure to follow him on Twitter @doctorplotkin for more musings about music.

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Resurrecting the Art of the Mixtape

shannengaffney:

Check out this article the Drexel News Blog wrote about our new live comp mixtape!

Originally posted on Drexel News Blog:

Twenty years ago, cassette tapes were being replaced by CDs, Drexel’s student-run radio station WKDU 91.7 FM released its last compilation album and some Drexel University students weren’t even born. Now, the student organization will release the newest compilation, “WKDU Live!!!!,”on cassette and digital download on Dec. 14.

WKDU members will unleash never-before-heard sessions with local and national bands by selling 100 limited edition cassette tapes at the R5 Productions Punk Rock Flea Market on Dec. 14 and 15.

As Philadelphia’s only free-format, non-commercial FM station, WKDU hosts radio shows that play all types of music from reggae and jazz to punk and indie. So of course the compilation album has a similar eclectic set of artists, including national acts Deer Tick and Bomb the Music Industry! and local groups like Spraynard and Restorations.  Some of the artists who recorded sessions with WKDU also have a history of releasing…

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by | December 15, 2013 · 10:08 am

Review: Bombino with Here We Go Magic 12/5/13

 

Bombino, photo courtesy of cumbancha.com

Bombino, photo courtesy of cumbancha.com

by Kirsten Becker

After hearing Here We Go Magic and Bombino would be touring together this winter, I knew the December 5th show at The Blockley was not one to miss. Though both bands have different sounds, they incorporate a very rhythmic aspect in each of their songs.

Here We Go Magic is a group I only recently got into following their 2012 release A Different Ship. The Brooklyn-­based band has received a lot of hype for their sets at Glastonbury and Bonnaroo. What peaked my interest in the band was that the album was produced by longtime Radiohead producer/collaborator Nigel Godrich. The album definitely has his influence clearly rooted in it.

They opened with the first single from A Different Ship, “Make Up Your Mind.” This high energy song featured pulsating guitar riffs and glimmering synth accents. Other cuts from the album like “Hard to Be Close” and “Alone But Moving” also were heard in the set. Towards the end, the band broke out one of their older songs, “Collector,” which got the crowd moving. They went into an extended jam session where each member got to show off with virtuosic solos. It was clear that the members of Here We Go Magic are extremely talented and very encapsulated in their entire performance. The subdued lights on stage added to the very intimate feeling they were going for. Their set ended with “How Do I Know,” a crowd favorite and left the stage with loud applause.

Photo courtesy of Last.fm

Here We Go Magic, photo courtesy of Last.fm

Up next was headliner Bombino in support of his latest album Nomad. Nigerian­-born Omara Moctar came onstage dressed in blue robes and an electric green scarf. For the first half, he and his band played in a line at the front of the stage for an acoustic set. Traditional drums were present while Bombino played an acoustic guitar and another member played bass. Bombino does not speak English but he still managed to connect with the crowd through his music.

For the second half, the band switched over to electric instruments where the music switched formats to a more blues­heavy feel. “Amidinine” was a particular favorite of mine as well as “Azamane Tiliade.” The variety in Bombino’s music is what’s most captivating about him. Each song has its own feel while still remaining very true to his sound.

You can listen to Bombino tracks here.

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