NYC’s Catalpa Festival brings the heat

Twisted fire-starters atop Arcadia's Afterburner DJ booth. The Afterburner will make its North American debut at the Catalpa Festival in NYC.

With New York City temperatures rising into the high 90s this afternoon, there’s no doubt that summer has officially arrived. And summer means great live music. Ask Stereophile’s editorial assistant, Ariel Bitran, who returned to the office all bronze-skinned and bleary-eyed after attending the recent Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee. (He’s been wearing sandals ever since.) And, while I can understand and appreciate the desire to get away from the City during these summer months, I’m happy to know that New York will be home to another major outdoor music fest: The first Catalpa Festival will be held this July 28th and 29th, from 1 to 11pm, on Randall’s Island.

Taking the stage on the opening day will be a dozen bands working in various forms, from the slinky dance sounds of Hercules and Love Affair to the industrial pop of Zola Jesus (!!!) to the bluesy rock of headliner The Black Keys. Sunday will see even more acts, including The Big Pink, Cold War Kids, AraabMUZIK, Matisyahu, Matt and Kim, Girl Talk, and headliner Snoop Dogg performing, in its entirety, his groundbreaking Doggy Style. Awesome.

But Catalpa aims to be more than just a music fest, bridging live performance with installation art, sound sculpture, and other shenanigans. Arcadia, an arts organization that uses military scraps as its basis for stunning sculptures, will show its flame-blowing Afterburner DJ booth for the first time in North America. Especially interesting to me, however, is the Silent Disco Tent, where participants will wear wireless headphones while singing and dancing along to music played by DJs. (I’ve gotta get Natalie, Nicole, KK, KB, and Ms. Little into this.) For those feeling a bit romantic, Frisky’s Church of Sham Marriages will honor your request to make life- or weekend-long vows. A “pimp pastor” will be on hand to conduct ceremonies; wedding veils, candy wedding rings, and “Just Married” sashes will be provided, and group marriages will also be accommodated. Want to really get married? The Catalpa Festival can make that happen, too. Wild times. And high times: The High Times Reggae stage will host the Cannabis Cup Band, Bob Marley tributes, and drumming sessions. Got the munchies? Catalpa will also host A Taste of New York, with farmer’s market vendors, pizzerias, and more.

Single-day passes start at $99.99. For more info, VIP packages, wedding planning, and the complete line-up of artists, visit CatalpaNYC.

Ariel Bitran's picture

my feet need to breathe!