This weekend, I attended the Escape to New York music festival on the Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton with The Statesman’s music blogger, Chris Priore.
Day three of the festival was cancelled due to weather conditions. The ultimate deciding factor remains unknown, but according to a festival press release, the organizers were advised by the Shinnecocks not to allow the public onto the grounds on Sunday because of potential damage to the grass after the rain had created mud.
Not one band played. There was music, however, as a man began to play his guitar and sing while sitting on a picnic table, brightening the day.
Media was allowed to wait underneath the media tent, so we waited for a couple of hours, until it was finally decided that the “delayed opening” of the festival’s day three had been changed to a cancellation. While we waited in the media tent, however, we had the opportunity to talk to a few people involved with Guerilla Science (who’d put on the science shows), and to a couple of fellow Stony Brook students who write for Think magazine.
We watched as the stage was de-cluttered, the bands and vendors packed up, and the wooden sculpture that people had had so much fun climbing the day before was surrounded by metal gates, as if the fun had officially been retired.
The dumpling truck that had been a crowd favorite did not open for the day, and other food vendors that had been preparing for the day’s crowd packed up. The Mexican food vendor, Pulqueria, began giving out free tacos and chips with guacamole (best guacamole I’ve ever had, by the way) to their fellow vendors and to media, artists, and friends of artists, once they found out that the public would not be allowed on the grounds for the day.
Looking back at the few notes that I took throughout day one of the festival, one particular bullet point is outstanding: “This festival is a bunch of people who really, genuinely care.”
The attendance rate overall was not extraordinary (actually, it wasn’t exactly ordinary..), and the cancellation of the third day’s lineup was unexpected, disappointing and clearly not ideal. But what made up for it was the knowledge that the people who planned and organized this festival were a group of individuals with the ambition, drive, and hopes to create something that would bring people together for just one weekend to listen to music, see things that they’d never seen before, and experience something together that would never be equal to or even reminiscent of any other weekend in their lives.
Was that goal achieved? I’m not sure that it was achieved to the extent to which its organizers had hoped, but I think that it was an interesting experience, and people seemed to have had a great time. The Escape2NY team has announced plans to hold the event again next year; hopefully it will grow into what it should have been this time around.