A few weeks into the rearview mirror, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the amazing experience Drom30 turned out to be.
The vibes were amazing, and each and every performance was special. The venues were great, the weather was perfect, and the smiles – I’ve never seen people so happy, for so long. Years of watching jaded indie folks standing still with their arms folded at shows really left me unprepared for the joy I saw – dancing, laughing, people with their eyes filled with tears as they watched bands they thought they might never see again, mingling with bands that are putting out vital, relevant music today.
There were so many highlights, I know I’m going to miss some, but I’ll try and note some of my favorites:
• Original Speed the Plough guitarist Marc Francia leading off the band’s set with a few songs. We’ve been friends with STP for more than a decade, but I’ve never seen Marc perform live with the band. It was the perfect way to kick off a weekend of reunions.
• Yung Wu playing Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” a staple in their set. In 2011 at our first Camelfest show at Maxwell’s, Yung Wu played the song, and it was fitting to hear these Maxwell’s veterans ripping into the song at Tubby’s, the venue that’s come the closest to capturing the Maxwell’s vibe that I know.
• Civic Mimic, originally a pandemic project of Glazer’s Jeff Hersch, erupting into a fully-formed band, young guys bashing out punk with shades of Superchunk, their new guitar player (who’s name I missed) blasting out one melodic lead after another.
• The joy on the face of our pal Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover as French began their set – the first time he’d seen them in decades.
• Dancing to ’70s disco spun by DJ JC of the death metal band Rigorous and the punk-pop band King Mike Entertainment System. JC also happens to be my son.
• Flower, playing “Beauty, Pt. II,” the song that introduced me to their music so long ago.
• Guy Capecelatro III and Carrie Bradley performing together. We were introduced to both of their music by Ron of Sunburned Hand of the Man almost 30 years ago (long before Sunburned was a thing), and have been in love with their songwriting ever since. What a treat to see them perform together.
• Meeting Sleepyhead, and watching Rachael and Chris perform with their son Flynn on guitar for a few songs. Also, hearing their new material! Wait til you hear it!
• Tara Key. Jesus. Antietam have always been a great band, and Tara is one of our favorite guitar players, but she was on FIRE.
• Tommy from Cathedral Ceilings’ bass strap pops off mid-song. Completely. Sean from Stuyvesant jumps onstage, grabs the strap, and reattaches it while Tommy keeps playing. Tommy doesn’t miss a note. Crowd goes wild.
• Das Damen ripping into their cover of the Pretenders’ “The Wait,” as they performed on the Tannis Root compilation “Freedom of Choice” way back in 1992.
• Mark Shue of Guided by Voices and Betsy Wright of Ex-Hex spinning late 70s power pop records at the afterparty
• DJ Metal Mark of Worldsucks with a metal DJ set, waking us all up on Sunday morning.
• Jenny Toomey, Jean Cook and Franklin Bruno, playing a stunning set. Franklin went so far above and beyond the call of duty by playing this show, it’s not possible to describe how thrilled we were. EVERYONE was.
• The crowd reaction to Kingston, New York’s Overheard. We can’t wait to play you more music from Overheard (hint, hint).
• Brian Musikoff joining Stuyvesant on bass for a few songs. Last time Brian played with Stuyvesant was in 2016.
• Madder Rose. MADDER ROSE! So much dancing!
• Lotion. First show in 11 years, and it seemed like in that time, they’d gotten BETTER. What an amazing, amazing performance. People were CRYING. And they played “A Quick One While He’s Away!”
Thanks to everyone who joined us, everyone who tuned into the simulcast on WGXC, all the venues, the staff who kept us comfortable, fed, well-lubricated and happy for three days, and of course every band who traveled to the Hudson Valley – some of which hadn’t played together in years and years – for next to no money, just to have a big party and a lot of fun.
See you next year? Maybe!