Built near the height the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, the enormous brick riverfront building now known as Basilica Hudson was once a foundry that banged out railroad car wheels. And when neighborhood residents Melissa Auf der Maur (yes, the former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist) and her spouse, filmmaker Tony Stone, took co-ownership of the structure in late 2010, they had a vision to match its size: that of transforming it into a viable arts center and performance space—plus an equally enormous list of renovations to make. But since then, the couple and their crew of collaborators have made good on the dream, swiftly putting the cavernous space on the map as one of the region's leading alternative culture venues and filling it with exciting events that match its sheer physical mass. One of these is the BasilicaSoundScape music festival, which will take over the site from September 13 to September 14.
"I couldn't believe what an amazing place [the building] is when I first saw it," says Pitchfork editor Brandan Stosuy, whose widely read online music publication is co-presenting BasilicaSoundScape with the artist-management firm Leg Up. "I'd been promoting metal shows at a warehouse in Long Island City, and the Basilica is similar to that space—but way better. It's also in a much better location, right near the river and a three-minute walk from the Amtrak station. [Leg Up's] Brian Deran and I had been looking for a place to do heavier music that also lends itself well to mixing in different types of performance and large-scale art, and the Basilica is totally perfect for that—the kind of unique environment that, because of how it's laid out, feels huge and small at the same time."
Launched last year as, simply, the Basilica Music Festival, this season's rechristened gathering kicks off on September 13 with a showcase assembled by Stosuy and inspired by his metal-heavy Pitchfork column, "Show No Mercy." The night features sets by grindcore unit Pig Destroyer; experimental electronica acts Evian Christ, Pharmakon, and Julianna Barwick; readings by punk pioneer Richard Hell and provocateur Peter Sotos; a large-scale collaborative sound piece by Stosuy, artist Matthew Barney, and composer Jonathan Bepler; and an oversized sculpture by Lionel Maunz constructed of "cast concrete, pewter, iron, grains, sulfur, and semen."
September 14 promises music by DIIV, Cass McCombs, No Joy, Pure X, Teengirl Fantasy, African kora master Malang Jobateh, and performance artist Genevieve White.
According to Stosuy, September 15 will be an earlier, family-friendly wind-down affair, with live bluegrass music and other attractions. Late-night DJ sets will rock Front Street's nearby Half Moon each night.
"Bigger festivals have no rhyme or reason to their bills and seem to book all the same bands," explains Stosuy. "[Basilica SoundScape] isn't about having a bunch of mismatched bands on some stage sponsored by a big insurance company. It's not about us finding an audience; it's more about letting an audience interested in something different find us."
The BasilicaSoundScape festival will take place from September 13 through September 14 at Basilica Hudson in Hudson. Tickets are $60 (full weekend) and $35 (individual nights). Camping accommodations are available at $30 per person, per night. (Visit the website for set times, tickets, and more information.) (518) 822-1050; Basilicahudson.com.