The Catalpa Festival: Day 1: 7/28/12 featuring the Aviation Orange, the Demos, the Sheepdogs, Hercules and Love Affair, Umphrey’s McGee, TV on the Radio, the Black Keys and More

Back in July, I had the unique opportunity to cover the Catalpa Festival out on Randall’s Island Park, and as you may have guessed if you manage to take 500 photos of the events and people for the first day, there’s going to be a part of you that’s real reluctant to edit that many photos, especially when editing is kind of tedious. In any case, what I will say is that the festival was one of my most memorable experiences this year. Although they had a fairly small crowd – I imagine that cost, as well as the fact that there have been way too many festivals in town this year – the crowd in attendance was among some of the nicest folks you could be around. Saturday afternoon was plagued by torrential rain storms which made the park a sloppy, muddy pool, and yet everyone was in good spirits. Of course, it helped that the first day’s lineup included the Aviation Orange, the Demos, the Sheepdogs, Hercules and Love Affair, Umphrey’s McGee, TV on the Radio and the Black Keys, as well as a bunch of decent reggae bands. And that was just the bands I personally saw. 

As far as my own personal highlights – the Sheepdogs, Hercules and Love Affair, TV on the Radio and the Black Keys were extremely impressive and for different reasons. The Canadian band, the Sheepdogs played a set of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers inspired Southern rock. Hercules and Love Affair played a set of pumping, sexy club music with material that was cleaner, more polished than Avan Lava, Jessica 6, and Body Language. TV on the Radio was so impressive to me, as they played their moody, atmospheric sounds that I had to see them a month later at the Afropunk Festival. And well, the Black Keys played a bunch of power chord blues. 

Reggae Stage

These two guys were having the most fun early on by the reggae stage. I saw them a couple of times throughout the day. 

The Aviation Orange

The Jeep Tent: Jeep sponsored a tent at Catalpa and they had a race course, games and other giveaways for festival goers. 

The race course. And yes, people were able to drive a Jeep through the race course. 

The Demos

The Reggae Stage: In between breaks for sets, I stopped by the reggae stage again to catch some more reggae. 

I stopped by the silent disco tent and caught these people who were having as much fun as me. 

They had a sham wedding tent and these two women took vows to each other – for the festival at least. It was pretty funny, especially seeing the reverend who looked like Huggy Bear. 

The skies opened up and it poured for the better part of an hour. I took these pictures while standing with a group of people seeking the cover of the Jeep tent. And if there was one complaint about the festival it was the fact that if the weather turned out worse – let’s say lightning of something like that – that it was difficult to know if things were getting cancelled or delayed. As you can see from the photos, people were running back and forth in the rain for various reasons, including for beer. 

The Sheepdogs

Imagine sloshing around in that for the better part of a weekend! Interestingly, while taking the subway back home, I could always tell who was at Catalpa with me – their feet and their shoes were caked in dried mud. 

Hercules and Love Affair

I had befriended this couple during the course of the festival, and they were adorable. It was his birthday weekend, and they had just started kind of seeing each other. I imagine that he was probably the most popular guy at Catalpa because he was practically posing for anyone who had a camera. But what can I say? They were enjoying themselves and their energy was just infectious.  You’ll see them come up again in Day 2. 

Umphrey’s McGee

Can you say guitar face?

These pretty young ladies were hula hooping during the Umphrey’s McGee’s set. 

TV on the Radio

The Black Keys

For these photos and the rest of the photos from the first day of the Catalpa Festival, check out the Flickr set here: