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The Hudson Project 

From Hippies to Hipsters

click to enlarge Kendrick Lamar headlines the Hudson Project in Saugerties July 11-13
  • Kendrick Lamar headlines the Hudson Project in Saugerties July 11-13

Boasting 85 acts, including big-name headliners like Kendrick Lamar, The Flaming Lips, Bassnectar, and Modest Mouse, four traditional stages, one interactive stage, DJ stages, and glamping (luxury camping), the new festival from the production company MCP Presents aims to be more than just three days of music. Jonathan Fordin, the president and COO of MCP, explains that his company's goal was focused more on "creating an environment—a getaway from the world." Attendees will be able to take advantage of the event's "experience area," which will feature a wide variety of activities, including carnival rides, yoga, tai-chi and kung-fu lessons, a beer garden stocked with local breweries, barbecue zones, art installations from local artists, and a live broadcast of the last two matches of the World Cup.

Of course, any music festival in the region, no matter how big it is, will always be playing second fiddle in the public consciousness to the now 45-year-old Woodstock Festival. The Hudson Project seems to have accepted this legacy; it will take place at Winston Farm in Saugerties, the site of Woodstock '94. Michael Lang, who organized the original Woodstock festival and its follow-up, represents the landowners. When MCP first approached him about holding a festival on the property, Lang was eager to support the project, explaining that he had "always wanted to bring music back there." Lang says that after seeing the best and worst of the festival scene, he's learned to "go with people who have experience," which MCP certainly does, organizing several festivals each year, including ones in Dallas and New Orleans.

Still, the Woodstock legacy presented unexpected challenges to MCP. The infamous overcrowding and inadequate utilities of the festival and its '94 follow-up had left many locals unusually skeptical of an event of this size, Fordin admits, adding that it had "made planning a whole lot harder that it probably should have been." Undeterred, MCP went ahead, and as a result, the Hudson Project has the "most coordination of any music festival" they've done. Security will be coordinating with local and state police to ensure a safe environment. Additionally, 400 toilets and 100 showers will be installed on site, along with medical tents and over 50 water stations to supply festival-goers with free drinking water. "Safety is our number one concern," Fordin says, adding, "If the town ran out of food you could come to our festival and live for a week."

Such coordination does emphasize how much things have changed since 1969, where attendees scrawled notes on paper plates and stuck them to trees in an attempt to contact one another. The new festival will be a more high-tech affair (its FAQ page reassures customers that there will be phone charging stations throughout the site). The music has changed, as well. While some bands from the Hudson Project lineup will bring a familiar-but-updated sound of '60s-inspired rock (The Flaming Lips. Dr. Dog), many of the artists offer experimental, decidedly contemporary sounds, like Kendrick Lamar's smooth confessional hip-hop and Four Tet's dreamy folk-electronica. Lang acknowledges that there have been big changes in the festival scene. Even with the additional bells and whistles, MCP is only expecting about 20,000 campers and a few thousand more from offsite during the day, a far cry from the 400,000 at the original Woodstock. Still, even if attendance is lower and the experience isn't as turbulent, there's one thing that will remain the same. "We book what we're passionate about," Fordin says, and that's something that hasn't changed since Lang's day.

The Hudson Project festival runs from July 11 to July 13 at Winston Farm in Saugerties. Hudsonmusicproject.com.

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