The fifth annual Equifunk Music Festival wrapped up this past weekend, providing an unforgettable experience for all who attended. Festival organizers transformed a summer camp into an adult wonderland complete with an incredible blend of music and beer flowing from taps set up all throughout the campgrounds. In addition to headliners Galactic and Dumpstaphunk, the Live For Live Music Late Night Stage ripped into the wee hours of the morning with sets by supergroup Sucker Punch, and our favorite robotic DJ, Speakerbot. Check out our full write up of the festival below.
The most unique aspect of Equifunk is the campgrounds and amenities of the festival’s host, Camp Equinunk. The “bunking” ticket option may be the most convenient way to take in a music festival. You and eleven friends share a cabin with beds, showers, bathrooms, and electricity. No waiting on shower lines, no disgusting port-a-potties, no charging your cell phone in the car. It’s like staying in a hotel, except only steps away from the music.
Equinunk also has a full array of athletic activities that many campers took advantage of throughout the weekend. A three-on-three basketball tournament was in full force throughout the day on Saturday while bands played at the Teepee Stage in view of the court. The beautiful pool and waterslide became an aquatic dance floor in the afternoon. There were fields for softball, football, and soccer; even a Frisbee golf course! Other activities like yoga and hula hoop classes were offered throughout the day as well.
However, the most talked about amenity at Equifunk is the fact that it is completely all-inclusive. Leave your wallet in the car – there is absolutely no need for it (well, you can purchase Equifunk shirts and snacks at the vending machines, for the record). The dining hall brings back feelings of a childhood school cafeteria, but at the same time instills a sense of community in the small festival. Three times a day, nearly the entire festival makes an exodus to the community dining hall (or the large field where they had a BBQ Saturday evening), where a completely free and tasty meal is served. Everyone you’ve met over the weekend takes a break from the rage to sit, eat, and talk. It’s a unique experience to Equifunk.
Of course, you can’t mention the ‘all-inclusive’ without mentioning the overflowing kegs of beer placed in convenient locations around the festival. Bartenders were set up with taps wherever people seemed to be congregating, whether it was one of the stages or the pool, and handed out beer freely to attendees. Each bunk was also supplied with a liquor bar, courtesy of Bacardi. Needless to say, it was not hard to find alcohol at Equifunk.
Had you never heard of Equifunk before today, you might guess that people go for the amazing live music or the all-inclusive food and beer. While these are obviously outstanding qualities in a festival, if you ask any Equifunk camper what keeps them coming every year, you might just be answered with “The Pool Party!” Fact is, the Equifunk Pool Party has gained an almost legendary status over the years, and it has only become better and better. It’s a simple formula really. You take one huge Olympic-size swimming pool and add an intense wedgie-inducing water slide to it. Next, grab several hundred rage-hungry, funk-loving, scantily-dressed campers. Then add a pool side stage, several bad ass funk bands, and a DJ. Combine them all with unlimited flowing beer and some excellent food, and there you have it folks….Pool Rage!
By Saturday afternoon, all the rain and clouds of the previous day had long since gone and by 11am campers started to set up shop poolside. After DJ Bohfunk delivered a funk-driven dance set, the first band up on the pool stage schedule, Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, delivered exactly what Equifunker’s were waiting for. This was a high energy set driven by the sexy, soulful, funk rock voice of the incomparable Arleigh Kincheloe. The 9-member ensemble set the bar high for what would turn into a stellar day of music by the pool.
Who better to follow suit then West Coast funk juggernaut, Orgone? The stage presence of vocalist Niki Crawford and guitarist Sergio Rios was quite infectious as campers both in and out of the pool were grooving hard in the sunshine. They played a lighter, upbeat and fun set which served as a nice preview of the powerhouse performance that they would deliver later in the evening. An hour and a half DJ set by Goldroom included his hit “Fifteen” as well as a RAC remix of “Hollywood” featuring Penguin Prison. Indianafunk outfit, Main Squeeze, also played a poolside set which included a stellar version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
As the afternoon segued into dusk, it was about time to close out this pool jam with a bang. Not many do this better than Brooklyn funk machine, Turkuaz. These guys are Equifunk veterans, having played the pool party enough times to know exactly how to bring it proper. By this time music was quickly replacing the sun and pool as the focus of everyone’s attention, and the grassy area in front of the stage became a packed house. Vocalists Geneva Williams and Lisa Ramey have amazing stage chemistry and are proving a great addition to the ensemble. Led by the guitar prowess of Dave Brandwein, the band provided song after song of straight fire. Campers were in full tilt dance mode as the sun set on another epic pool party atCampEquinunk. If for no other reason, we at L4LM strongly suggest your attendance at next year’s Equifunk to check out the best (if not only) pool party you will find at any music festival around.
When it comes to the full-on concert experience at camp Equifunk, there is only one place to be, the E-Rena. Festival producers transform this hockey rink into a venue that has to be seen to be believed. A beautiful stage with a quite complex lighting rig and a fog machine makes this the spot where Equifunk headliners bring the heat. This stage has seen the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, Karl Denson, and The New Deal. However this year’s lineup managed to trump all others before it.
Brooklyn-based The Pimps of Joytime were the first to take the stage on the first evening of camp. These guys immediately sent a message to the crowd: It’s time to dance! Front man Brian J has an aura of coolness about him that he distributes amongst the rest of the group, creating a swagger that just can’t be replicated. Latin rhythms, deep grooves, and their signature “Janxta” funk characterized a set that put the party people on full tilt.
Feeding off this vibe, New Orleans funk master Ivan Neville brought his band Dumpstaphunk to the stage for what would be one of the best performances of the weekend. The band absolutely killed it. At one point bassist Nick Daniels broke a string and had to walk off the stage to have it replaced. This led to one of the more interesting musical adventures of the night, as new addition to the band, drummer Nikki Glaspie, wowed the crowd with a ridiculous drum solo to give Daniels time to fix his string. As Daniels came back to the stage, Glaspie seamlessly took the band into a cover of Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing”, providing the vocals herself as well.
A great segue for the L4LM Late Night Stage, remix masters RAC took to the turntables providing fans with familiar grooves to keep their feet moving. These guys are masters of the remix and people just love to hear familiar songs by bands like Depeche Mode, Bloc Party, and Edward Sharpe, given the RAC treatment.
Saturday night in the E-Rena, things started off on a classic note with Led Zeppelin cover super group Bustle in Your Hedgerow. Comprised of Benevento/Russo, Dreiwitz (Ween) and Metzger (RANA), Bustle played song after song of instrumental Zepp in their own unmistakable style. Campers were eating this up, fist pumping in the air with the beginning of each new tune. Notably, Galactic Drummer Stanton Moore jumped in on Joey Russo’s drum kit for part of the set.
Following up on their red hot poolside set,L.A.’s Orgone kicked it up another notch for their evening set. Sultry siren Niki Crawford mesmerized the crowd with an overpowering sexuality in both her physical appearance and her vocal prowess. As she likes to do, Crawford encouraged the crowd to feel the sexuality and Orgone flowing through their veins. You don’t have to tell me twice.
By the time festival headliner Galactic was due up to close the weekend out, the crowd was hungry. What they got was enough to satiate a small country. Galactic delivered a monster set defined by an off the chart energy level. The band played funked-out jam after jam to a packed audience in a groove frenzy. At one point, Joe Russo dressed in a dog costume, and jumped on Stanton Moore’s drum kit to perform “Crazy Horse Mongoose”. The quintet was also joined by vocalist Corey Glover of Living Colour fame, and who has most recently been touring as a full-on member of Galactic. You can only imagine the eruption of the crowd when the group broke into “Cult of Personality”. Every camper in the house sang along for this one folks. When the band had played their last note, you could feel a collective sigh of disbelief amongst the crowd as they were just realizing this truly epic weekend of music was drawing to an end. A super, electro, dance-driven set was played by DJ Spaceplant to end the festivities at the E-Rena for those that stuck around for some last minute dance sauce.
Live for Live Music Late Night Stage
Friday night saw the L4LM Late Night Stage come to life with the much-anticipated return of SuckerPunch, the supergroup that consists of Marc Brownstein & Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits, Jamie Shield of the now defunct New Deal, and drummer Mike Greenfield of Philly livetronica act Lotus. After not playing as a group since 2003, it was anybody’s guess how the synergy between members would flow. Starting the set off with a cover of Simon Posford’s alt-moniker Hallucinogen’s “Solstice (In Dub)”, put any doubts to rest, as the crowd was into it from the get-go. SuckerPunch’s set didn’t let up at any point; the jams were lengthy, and we even received versions The Disco Biscuits’ “Lunar Pursuit”, The New Deal’s “Home”, The Join’s “Denmark Massive”, and Conspirator’s “Macina Verde”. It was a throwdown from start to finish, and left everyone in the crowd wanting more.
Luckily, the party was set to continue with L4LM’s good friend Speakerbot, who has been seemingly blowing up before our very own eyes. Dropping his remixes for a crowd that was nowhere near ready to call it quits, the Bot tore through versions of A.N.D.Y & Vincente’s “El Barrio (The Supermen Lovers Remix)” (check it out here http://soundcloud.com/discotexas/a-n-d-y-vicente-el-barrio-the-supermen-lovers ), Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”, Flight Facilities “With You”, and Kora’s “Flow (Crazy P Remix)”.
Friday night definitely brought out the dancer in everyone, and L4LM couldn’t have been happier and more grateful to have been given the opportunity to bring this particular Friday late-night lineup to Equifunk. We hope you all enjoyed as well.
There were a few things that happened over the weekend that really gave Equifunk that extra bit of uniqueness that is just not there at most, if any, other festival. Whether it was spontaneous, or planned, these are things that we thought had to receive some mention. The list is as follows:
- The Impromptu Late-Night/Sunrise Sessions – As you were making your way back to the bunks on either side of the camp, you could hear music bumping, and couldn’t help but make your way over to certain bunks to see what was up. Over atCampBlue Ridge, DJ Bohfunk and Speakerbot were throwing their own impromptu dance party. Members of Turkuaz, Orgone, and other bands were joining in the festivities and getting down to the beats. Some seriously funny things happened, which will forever be kept secret, but let’s just say that this was the place to be. The Frank Stalloners also threw their own party, which was also a great time. These guys are hilarious and definitely fun to party with. On Saturday, The Main Squeeze played at the Social Hall, which was completely unannounced, but closed out the festival properly. With an incredible cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”, this was a tough pill to swallow if you weren’t there.
- BBQ Dinner on the Lawn – On Saturday evening, a BBQ dinner with burgers, hot dogs, and ribs was had for all on the main lawn of the camp. This was something that made you sit back and truly enjoy your surroundings. Watching everyone gather in a circle of friends, enjoying each other’s company, while the sun started to go down over the mountains was one of the most refreshing moments had in awhile at a festival. It wasn’t about the music; it was about being with old and new friends and enjoying being at this very special place, and simply relishing the moment. It doesn’t get much better than this.
- The Surroundings – The overall setting of this festival is about as good as it gets at any festival in the country (w/ some exceptions, obviously). Being at a summer camp in the middle of the Pocono Mountains inPennsylvania, with nothing but nature in all its glory surrounding you, really isn’t a tough sell. If you took a stroll over to the lake, you could see the sun setting over the mountain; late-night/early morning you could see the mist rising over the lake (which was super trippy); you had a facilities with basketball courts, baseball fields, open fields for Frisbee, an Olympic-sized pool, hiking trails, a jungle gym on the Blue Ridge side of camp; and overall, a place that was open for you to do anything that you could possibly think of that is outdoors-related.
- The Contest Winners – For bands that made their way onto the billing by garnering attention through Facebook contests, Non-Stop toCairo and The Uptown Party Down were quite impressive. Their high-energy sets were a good way to open up the weekend, and hopefully brought over some new fans over to their side. Keep an ear out for both of these local NYC and Long Island-based bands.
There isn’t much else to say about the Equifunk Music Festival that hasn’t already been said. This was one of the most memorable weekends in a very long time, and we encourage everybody that wasn’t there this year to put it on their calendar for next year. For a relatively young festival that has the intentions on becoming a mainstay on the summer festival circuit (which it most certainly should), they have a great concept going here and have put a lot of planning and thought into this gem of a weekend. Here is to many more!