The sixth annual Full Moon Festival took over the beach at Governors Island over the weekend and it brought two days of dancing in the sand, gourmet snacks and unpredictable weather.
Full Moon Festival takes the cake for most unique festival of the summer. With so many electronic artists on the line-up, I was expecting to see a beach full of EDM lovers fully equipped with fur boots, kandy bracelets and glow-sticks. With the age set on 21+, there were no pasties or light shows and the crowd was as edgy and hip as they come. There couldn't have been more than a few thousand attendees so the setting was intimate. It doesn't get much better than dancing waterside with the Manhattan skyline glistening in the distance while listening to some of your favorite artists.
Getting to the festival was a breeze and I actually looked forward to it each day. They offered a free ferry ride to the island and after security checks at the ferry building, you took a short ride across to the island where you had a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty. Once I stepped foot off the ferry, I was inside the festival within five minutes. Its always nice to see such good organization when youre anxious to get inside a festival.
The first set I caught was Lolawolf and at this point in the day, the tent was only about a third full as everyone sat in the back on blankets in the sand. All eyes were on front-woman Zoe Kravitz as she commanded the stage wearing white shorts and a striped tank top over a white t-shirt. She had stealth, intergalactic-looking sunglasses on and a black leather choker that looked - slightly - like a dog collar. As they weaved through their hits - all of which translated better than expected live - Kravitz strutted around stage, rarely putting down her drink. At one point of her set, she even said, "Where the hell did my drink go?" It's impossible to take your eyes off of Kravitz while she dances around the stage.
Moodymann came out on stage looking mysterious and suave - wearing a fish net to mask his face with a black bandana tied on his head. His two-hour long set was full of soulful house and vintage disco, and he got on the mic a few times to make sure everyone was aware he was playing "real records" up there as he held a vinyl up in the air. Moodymann's transitions were smooth and got the crowd geared-up for a high-energy evening.
Up until this point, I was raving about how the sound quality of Full Moon Fest was exceptional each set. But Pusha T's set was the moment when the sound became pretty glitchy and unpredictable for the rest of the festival. His vocals were washed out under the intense bass lines but his energy (and confidence) levels remained way up. He would say, "I am King Push" and "Give it up for the president of G.O.O.D Music, King Push" as he bounce all over the stage and hyped the crowd up. Pusha T brought some nostalgia to his set by playing 2002s "Grindin'" by Clipse - the duo made up of Pusha T and his brother, No Malice. Some other highlights of his set were "Numbers On The Boards" from My Name is My Name
and Pusha T performed his verse in Kanye's "Runaway."
Black Coffee played a solid two-hours of deep house as a golden-orange moon was rising over the stage. He played soulful, funky afro-house music that really got the crowd movin'. Towards the middle of the set, Black Coffees set took a slight turn and he began to play dark tracks with repetitive beats, heavy bass lines and some haunted screeching sounds. It was also that point of the night where it looked like everyone around me was coming down off some sort of upper and I began to feel like I was in the middle of zombie scene from a scary movie. My notes even say, "I was a little scared towards the middle of Black Coffee's set" so I used this opportunity to grab a poke salad (so good!) and stare at the Freedom Tower in the distance. Black Coffee brought the vibes back up by playing remixes of Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know," Robyn's "Show Me Love," and ended with Prince's "Purple Rain."
When I looked around the festival grounds after Black Coffee finished, it was strangely empty. "Who the hell would leave before SBTRKT?!" I kept thinking. The line to get on the ferry was getting longer and people were piling at the exit. It was only about 10:35PM at this point so I'm pretty sure a two-hour deep, dark house set before the Saturday headliner wasn't the best idea. The zombie apocalypse during Black Coffee's set cleared the grounds out but the tent was mostly pretty full for SBTRKT.
SBTRKT's set started almost ten minutes late - it looked like there was some sound issues as they were setting up. SBTRKT came onto stage wearing his usual tribal man mask covering his eyes and nose. He played "Hold On" and "NEW DORP. NEW YORK" early on in the set then played back-to-back hip-hop remixes including, Schoolboy Q's "That Part" and Drakes "With You (featuring Party Next Door)" The sound cut in and out through his set and with each glitch, a few festival goers would leave for the exit. It was sad to see one of my most anticipated artists of the weekend with a small, exhausted crowd while having sound issues on top of it.
As the set was coming to an end, SBTRKT played "Wildfire" which was obviously a crowd favorite. It was about five minutes passed his scheduled ending time (he started late so he definitely deserved to play his normal one-hour set) when two festival staff members came up to SBTRKT signally for him to wrap it up. He responded with doing the hand gesture asking for one more and as "Wildfire" ended, he got on the mic to say "thank you," only to find the mic's sound was already partially cut-off. A frustrated SBTRKT threw his arms in the air and walked off stage. SBTRKT deserved an overflowing tent with flawless sound quality but being that it is SBTRKT, he killed it anyway and played a short set of non-stop dancing and incredible mixing.
The beginning of Sunday at Full Moon Festival brought weather that you could tell would take a turn for the worst. The day started out hot and sunny with the thick humidity with dark grey clouds rolling in. The festival wasn't as crowded as Saturday, but that didn't stop people from coming prepared for another day of music (and rain).
A cool and calm Marcus Marr stood behind his DJ table on stage as he played funk hit after hit during his 90 minute set. He played "Birthday Card" and part of "Learning For Your Love" from his EP with Chet Faker, Work
. A huge highlight of his set was when he played "I Wanna Be Your Lover" by Prince, setting the mood right for the rest of the day.
Kali Uchis was one of my top three sets of Full Moon Festival - which wasn't expected as I only knew one of her songs leading up to her set. She brought genre-bending, world influenced music as she strutted around stage wearing a vintage-inspired, white two-piece outfit. Her music gives off Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey influences with the latin-flavor from her home country of Colombia. She did a cover of Elvis Crespo's "Suavemente" and closed her set with "Ridin Around." Even when her microphone cut out for nearly a whole song, she didn't skip a beat as she carried on her performance like nothing happened. She may be petite, but her sultry vocals are as bold and full of sass. Her nine-track debut-album, Por Vida
, released last year but Im pretty sure Kali Uchis is here for the long haul.
Los Angeles garage rock band, Allah-Las, made me fall in love with their music even more on Sunday as the storm finally arrived at Governors Island. The rain didn't stop Allah-Las from playing a high-energy set full of vintage-sounding rock. They weaved through hits from both their debut self-titled album and their sophomore album, Worship The Sun
, while throwing in a few new songs from Calico Review
, which will be released on September 9th. "Sandy" was a huge highlight of the set and their recent single "Could Be You" got the crowd dancing. You can hear a Bob Dylan raspiness in frontman Miles Michaud's vocals and if you're into The Growlers or The Kinks with the psychedelic sound of the 60s and a dash of California surf-rock, you'll love Allah-Las.
When Escort stepped out on stage, I was blown away by the amount of people in the band. They accompanied each funky track with appropriate disco dancing moves. Escort is a band that revives a genre that should've never left while adding their modern spice on top. There was a full stage of eleven band members, instruments and the two backup vocalist were in high-waisted jeans and with cartoon-looking popsicles all over a t-shirt. Front-woman, Adeline Michele, was in a white frilly dress with sparkles on it. They went through the songs of their 2015 album, Animal Talk
, as they performed choreographed dance moves and the trumpets were blaring. They closed with "Cocaine Blues" as smoke and confetti filled the tent - it was definitely a huge highlight of the weekend.
Julio Bashmore kept the dancing going into his set by bringing funk and house music as the rain started to let up a little. But as soon as his set started, the beach area filled with festival goers dancing in rain-dance fashion as the moon was rising above the stage. Julio Bashmore sampled a lot of sounds from his debut-album, Knockin' Boots
, but it was a tease not hearing the full songs from the album. But that didn't stop me from dancing my way into the night.
Santigold was everything I imagined she would be plus so much more. She came out wearing a black and white striped blazer coat with her backup dancers sitting on beanbag chairs, eating Cheeto puffs and drinking blue Powerade. Early in Santigold's set, she played "L.E.S. Artistes" and "Banshee," where she took off her jacket to show her skintight, bright yellow dress that read "WE BUY GOLD." She continued to go through songs from her newest album, 99 Cents
and completed two quick other outfit changes - a light pink sweatshirt with photos of her face plastered all over it and a white dress with some of the song names from 99 Cents
. Her set included lots of bubbles during "Disparate Youth" and Santigold and her dancers pushing around shopping carts during parts of the set. She closed with "Cant Get Enough of Myself," which turned into a crowd singalong and the tent filled with confetti. Santigold left stage with the biggest smile across her face and the joy was so infectious that everyone left the island happy as some clams.
Besides the sound hiccups and the terrifying fact that water bottles were $5 with no refill stations, Full Moon Festival was one of my favorite and most memorable festivals of the summer. The lineup was great, the organization was impressive and the setting couldn't have been more perfect. For being a short five minute ferry from downtown NYC, the waterside VIP cabanas, beach umbrellas, and (fake) palm trees gave me the summer feels I needed to pretend I was on a tropical island away from the hustle-bustle of the city.