Day 2 of Catalpa was the very thing promoters were hoping the fest would be. Sun for practically the whole day and intriguing acts from early on.
Read more including photos of Snoop Dogg, AraabMusik, Girl Talk, Matt and Kim, Cold War Kids and more after the jump.
Aunt Martha started the day for me. The homespun country rock tunes were easy enough to get into. The band helped set up the earlier part of the day and was a good warm up to the second main stage act of the day, City and Colour.
I was looking forward to The Big Pink and while technical problems mired the first two songs, the band found their groove pretty quickly. The anthemic quality of their songs were made for festivals and for people who may not have known who they were. Big hooks and catchy choruses in the sun; not a bad way to spend Sunday afternoon.
City and Colour was the first band with a good fan following at the festival for the day. Alt-country that could connect to a broad audience. Not my personal favorite but I see how it can draw in plenty of fans.
I was pleasantly surprised by Dirty Heads. The spirited reggae influenced jams had already won some fans over and the set definitely won them plenty more. Fun and free flowing, the guys on stage were having fun and that showed in each note that was played.
Cold War Kids continue to be a solid act. Of course they played some of their biggest tunes like “Hang Me Out to Dry” but they also had time to introduce some new material. The new songs found that right balance between urgency and stability that CWK have shown in the past. The band has come to terms with being family men and are looking ahead to the next chapter in life.
Matisyahu was an act I was curious about but held no vested interest in. I was ready to be a passive observer but his set had conviction and a level of self-belief that made it pretty engaging. Matisyahu surprised me the same way as Dirty Heads early, figures they are tourmates, right?
Now here is where Catalpa gets interesting. Matt and Kim of course put on a non-stop high energy set with plenty of smiles. The band loves to perform and after being locked up in a studio, the band was back in their element. While leading a festival wide party the band also managed to debut a new song.
Girl Talk put on quite the party, much the same way as Matt and Kim did earlier. Greg Gillis knows how to get a crowd going and fans know enough to act crazy. Toilet paper guns, confetti and tons of fans dancing made for quite the spectacle. The other fun part is picking out all the samples and cues, be it from M83 to 50 Cent to Florence and the Machine.
It is fitting to compare two of the heavily hyped young guns of the festival. Put plainly, AraabMusik seems like the real deal while A$AP Rocky felt a bit flat. There were tons of spectators and supporters on stage with Araab while A$AP had his own mob with him.
Large crowds were drawn to the smaller stage and while A$AP and company had energy, there was nothing that elevated the performance to a great rap set. His crew was having fun and it looked like A$AP was having a blast, but his set would have not swayed those on the fence. Araab on the other hand, had some blistering beats and bass blasts that had the crowd going nuts.
Finally, Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion) hit the stage to play his classic album Doggystyle in its entirety. Little vignettes were played throughout and of course the smell of countless festival goers lighting up filled the air.
Looking back at Catalpa, there were plenty of positives and hopefully it comes back for a second year. Attendance seemed decent but not great and chances are that was due to the bad weather throughout the weekend scaring off potential last-minute sales. A stronger undercard with more focus on how each day was programmed would help make Catalpa’s return to New York that much better.
Matt + Kim
Cold War Kids
City and Colour
The Big Pink