Borderland Music & Arts Festival returned this past weekend to its home at Knox State Farm in East Aurora, NY. The boutique festival just outside Buffalo bridged musical divides as it brought alt-rock heroes The Flaming Lips and Portugal. The Man together with jamgrass mainstays including The Infamous Stringdusters and Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel, with some traditional jam bands for good measure.
By weekend’s end, Borderland hosted nearly 20 bands on two stages across Saturday and Sunday. The first day was highlighted by a particularly engaging set from Michael Franti & Spearhead, with the charismatic frontman pulling close to 20 people onstage throughout his performance, including small children, hula hoopers, birthday revelers, and more.
Saturday headliner Portugal. The Man won the crowd over before even playing a note as guitarist/vocalist John Gourley sported a Josh Allen sweatshirt two days before the Buffalo Bills‘ home opener on Monday, where they trounced the Tennessee Titans 44-7. Prior to the band’s performance, the Alaska-bred indie outfit invited members of the region’s indigenous community on stage to preface their set with a prayer and song. The opening ceremony also featured a land acknowledgment recognizing the indigenous people as the original and enduring stewards of the land and asking all in attendance to be respectful of the relationship between the native people and the land.
Sunday saw a focus on improvisational artists with back-to-back sets from rising New Jersey jammers Dogs In A Pile and established space funk quartet Spafford. Luckily for Buffalo Bills reporter and former wide receiver Steve Tasker and kicker Steve Christie, the team didn’t play until Monday, so the local celebrities were able to take in the day at Borderland, where they threw signed footballs into the crowd. The former All-Pro NFL players also gave out autographs for donations to the Rural Outreach Center.
Not everything at a festival always goes according to plan, and that applies to performers just the same as organizers. Due to a family emergency, The Infamous Stringdusters’ Andy Falco was unable to attend Borderlands, but luckily the group’s good friend Keller Williams was already on hand for his Grateful Gospel set. The barefoot bard stepped in to lend the band a hand, making for a one-of-a-kind performance leading into The Flaming Lips, who closed out the weekend in all their psychedelic art-rock glory.
Check out image galleries of Borderlands Music & Arts Festival 2022 from photographers Jay Blakesberg and Tobin Voggesser. In addition to shooting photos, Blakesberg was on site all weekend with his RetroBlakesberg photo archive, signing copies of his new book with Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips) and Michael Franti, who both contributed essays to the project.
Borderland Music Festival in 12 minutes, September 2022 (Unofficial)
[Video: David & Patricia Neumann]
The Flaming Lips – Borderland – East Aurora, NY – 9/18/22 – Full Set
[Video: Green Monkeys 8 My Brain]