Huichica East Music Festival 8/24-8/26 | Music | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Huichica East Music Festival 8/24-8/26 

A Q&A with Allah-Las Frontman Miles Michaud

Last Updated: 08/30/2018 3:52 pm

click to enlarge The Huichica stage at Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains
  • The Huichica stage at Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains

When it's summertime in the Hudson Valley, one can never have enough music festivals—especially if they happen to be adventurous, thoughtfully curated events, ones that program acts that are more vital and interesting than the all-too-common, clock-punching oldies revues that continue to make the fairground rounds. Thankfully, though, in recent years a wave of the former—small-scale, indie-minded fests—have been increasingly popping up to fill the warm-weather landscape with the kind of cool sounds that fly well under the pervasive radar of mainstream lameness. Take, for instance, the Huichica Music Festival, which this month marks its third year at Chaseholm Farm.

Presented by Northern California-based promotions group FolkYEAH!, Huichica (pronounced "wa-CHEE-ka") debuted in Sonoma in 2010 with the aim of building, according to cofounder Jeff Bundschu, "a laidback, 'micro' music and camping festival...[that brings] people together in the name of music, food, wine, and beautiful outdoor spaces." Among the acts set to appear at this year's three-day East Coast installment of Huichica are Robyn Hitchcock, the Allah-Las, Bettye LaVette, Vetiver (performing their classic album Thing of the Past), Mercury Rev (live improvised soundtrack), Amen Dunes, Espers (first performance since 2009), Martin Courtney of Real Estate, Ryley Walker, Hailu Mergia, Circles Around the Sun, and more. The Huichica Music Festival will take place at Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains on August 24, 25, and 26. Tickets are $20-$90.

Allah-Las lead singer Miles Michaud answered a few questions about the festival and his band via email.

The Allah-Las are associated with the '60s-inspired garage rock revival that's really taken hold among younger audiences in the US during the last decade. Although the genre has long been popular in other places (especially Europe), it's only recently gained significant traction over here. Why do you think it is that younger listeners are discovering and becoming so passionate about this music now?

I dunno, it seems to come in waves. There was also a big '60s revival movement in the mid-'80s and early '90s—in LA it was the Paisley Underground scene with bands like Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, the Bangles. It's always been around, and every generation has its group of kids who stumble upon those early records. They can be really accessible and special when discovered at the right time and place.  

With your sound, you guys have really drilled down and tapped into a certain variant of '60s music: the haunting, minor-key style of the Zombies, the Velvet Underground, the darker side of West Coast bands, and, perhaps especially, the "moody" garage sound identified with New England bands like the Rising Storm. What is it about this particular vibe that appeals to you?

When we were starting to play together, that was our primary influence—the B-side cuts from old records. Moody is a good word for it. We were also all going through some moody times, especially when making our first LP. Our tastes and our sound have been changing, though, as those things should, and especially on the record we are working on now there are some tracks that depart from that entirely.  

Last year when the band was scheduled to perform in Rotterdam there was a terrorism scare that led to the concert being cancelled. Can you tell us a bit about that? Do you think it was coincidental, or did it have something to do with the band's name? If not, has the name ever caused you problems at other times and is there a story behind the moniker?

It's hard to chalk it all up to coincidence, but certainly a good amount of the events that transpired were circumstantial if not coincidental. It happened a few days after the sad events in Barcelona [the 2017 van attack that killed 14 and injured 130 others], so everyone in Europe was really on edge. Someone posted some threatening messages on an online message board and the response was to cancel the show; in hindsight, the cancellation was perhaps overzealous, but not surprising given that environment. In the end no one was hurt, although they did arrest the Dutch kid who posted the messages and he said that he was merely fishing for "real terrorists." He was studying cybersecurity at university. They didn't really give us many details, but we decided to finish the last three shows of that tour.

There is no story behind the name other than we thought it sounded good and had a reverent air about it. 

Having played Huichica West in California last year, how would you describe the scene that FolkYEAH! creates at their festivals?

Britt Govea, who runs FolkYEAH!, is a master of blending music with the natural environment, and one of our favorite promoters to work with. We have played many shows and festivals with him, and in each case the festival is held in an outdoor space that would hold up as a great place to visit for a weekend on its own, but he makes it all the better by bringing live music in.  

For those who haven't seen the Allah-Las live before, what should they expect?

We tend to interpret our environment into our set, especially when it comes to outdoor stages. If there's high energy, we will respond to that. But if it's a mellow evening, then we're happy to bring that mood too. Guess we won't know until we see each other.

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