Hamptonites hotly anticipated how the battle of the festivals would turn out this summer -- and, unfortunately, a battle didn't even get to happen. Finding out the disappointing news that the Music To Know festival (which was scheduled for this upcoming weekend) was cancelled around 4pm on Saturday because of low ticket sales was a bummer enough, but then, when the Escape to New York festival cancelled it's last day due to inclement weather, we were ready to pull our hair out. So what happened here? With the Hamptons being known as a hubbub for artists and creative minds, why couldn't these musical festivals survive out east?
Since Music To Know didn't actually occur, I can't make a valid assessment of how it all would've went down, however I did spend two days at Escape to New York of what was good and what was... well, not so good.
We'll start off with good (I'm a glass half full kind of thinker):
Good: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
These guys really rocked it. I think they were a good choice in terms of popularity of the band and the audience. Bubbles, smoke machines, and lights all enhanced the already amazing live set. Their performance was definitely the highlight of the festival.
Bad: Not big enough headliners
While I love me some Patti Smith, Edward Sharpe and of Montreal, I think many veteran festival goers agreed the line up could have used one huge band to take it to the next level and get people more excited. MTK had the right idea booking Vampire Weekend and Ellie Goulding (but we saw where that lead them). I think New Yorkers needed something a little more enticing, not a band they can see in Brooklyn pretty easily for $30, to draw a better turn out.
All in all, I have to say the food vendors were top notch: Rickshaw dumplings, oven baked pizza, yummy tacos. The retail vendors were awesome too, including A Little Wicked and The Styleliner. And because it was an "intimate" festival (to put it politely), lines were short or non-existent and the bathrooms stayed relatively clean. It wasn't difficult to move your way through the crowd for some front row action. It was one of the only concerts where I was stepped on just a handful of times, which was a pretty nice change.
Bad: Too expensive
Do you know how much it costs to "glamp"? For 3 days in their "luxury safari tent" it costs $3,500 -- plus a 20% service charge. Of course it came with 4 VIP passes to the festival grounds, a dedicated wait staff, premium bottles and mixers, unlimited Arizona iced tea (thank god!), catering by Fat Radish and "optional spa services," whatever that means. I know this is the Hamptons, but honestly? $3,500 to camp out behind the Elks lodge on Route 27? And the tickets were also $275 for a three day pass, which many people were not thrilled about.
Good: Dance Tent
I have to say, the couple of hours I spent at the dance tent on Saturday night was pretty awesome. Something about being outside on the grass in the summer air and dancing like a maniac with a bunch of crazy festival goers was just awesome. I was into the music too, though I heard some people had wished the DJ line up had bigger names.
The Shinnecock Reservation may seem like a good idea in theory -- nice open space, relaxed rules (especially for the Hamptons), and a way to play into the whole "Native American" fashion trend that seems to be going on. However, these people take what little land they have seriously, and they don't want a bunch of Hampsters trampling their grass. Hence the reason why the last day was cancelled. This was included in the official email that was sent out to disappointed fans:
OFFICAL SHINNECOCK INDIAN NATION STATEMENT
To the board of Escape to New York LLC
The Board of Trustees of the Shinnecock Nation is advising the organizers of the Escape to New York festival not to proceed with the festival today Sunday, August 7th 2011. This decision is based on flash flooding occurring last evening and power outages on the reservation this morning around 11 a.m. The current forecast is predicting a significant chance of precipitation which may create further damage. In addition there are safety concerns as a result of the rain and adverse condition that may affect general safety of both attendees and working personnel.
The conditions on site include power outages pooling of water and damage to the land.
Frederick C. Bess, Trustee
The weather played into it, but I can't imagine the Shinnecock Indian Nation was completely into the idea of a bunch of drunk people making noise and loads of garbage on their turf.