Destination Moon Brings Brooklyn DIY Spirit to Upstate NY

               Destination Moon is an entirely solar powered music and arts festival, which took place June 17 & 18 in Wurtsboto NY.  The festival was curated by a group of friends who have planned smaller events and parties areound NYC, but had before this never ventured fully into the "festival circuit."   Starting off the weekend on Friday night was New Myths, a three piece dark rock outfit that delivered heavy and intense melodies and choruses.  They played in the Camp Lakota Social Hall, where one could easily imagine, under different circumstances, the children of Camp Lakota holding an end of the summer play or talent show (serious Wet Hot American Summer vibes the whole weekend).  After New Myths left the stage, popular NY indie rock outfit Porches played.  We had eaten dinner in the rec hall several hours earlier, and had noticed Aaron Maine and the other unnecessarily cool members of the band sitting just one table over from us, eating the same delicious cold noodles and falafel dishes that we were.

               “Have you guys been in the lake yet?  You’ve gotta go in the lake,” Maine told the 80 or so people gathered to watch his band's set.  He informed the crowd that his mom had been a counselor at Camp Lakota, so he had grown up going to this very camp.  Near the end of the set, he paused the music and began to speak, “I just want to say – Actually wait.  No.  I don’t want to do it like that,” then pausing to collect himself, “This is really incredible.  I’m so happy to be here.  Thank you."

               This is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly shared.  The weekend was tinged with somewhat constant disbelief.  On Saturday morning, we followed Maine's advice, and "boogied on down to the lake," where there was a variety of boats that one could take out.  Kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, paddleboats, etc.  A young bearded Brooklynite lead a morning yoga session of the beach, and we looked longingly at the boats, assuming there was no way that they were for us.  We didn’t sign any waivers, there didn't appear to be a lifeguard of any sort.  But almost on cue, folks began dragging them down to the lakefront and paddling about.  

               Alongside the 15 bands playing throughout the weekend, there were a variety of visual, performance, and conceptual art pieces scattered throughout the festival grounds.  There was a field filled with seashells - but the seashells were huge and tricked out with speakers, playing ocean noises.  There were huge geometric projections, a man painting a canvass of the globe (but in a cool, avante-garde way), a tiny wind turbine that one could blow on and see computer generated turbines spin to generate power. Near the canteen, indie video game outfit, Baby Castles had set up a variety of interactive games that one could play alone, or with friends.  The atmosphere that the curators of the festival had striven so hard to create was, as co-producer Walker explained to us, "a music festival that we would want to go to."  And for Walker and his co-producers, concurrent with the importance of the aesthetic and vibe of the festival, was the sustainability element.  The festival was entirely solar powered, as Walker explained, "as soon as we decided to put on a festival, we were just like - oh and it should be solar powered.  We wanted to show people that it was totally doable."  On top of this, the festival reported that the entire weekend it produced only 5 bags of trash; next to 16 bags of recycling and 32 bags of compost.  

               One of the featured artists of the weekend who I was the most intrigued by, was a man named Tommy.  We spoke to him briefly on the shuttle from Brooklyn to Camp Lakota and when we asked what his art was, he explained that he made costumes.  He had two friends with him and their plan was to, “I think just sort of wear the costumes… Hang out.”  And that's exactly what they did.  Throughout the weekend, Tommy and his costume clad homies danced along, paddled around the lake, and drank Sangria from the canteen.  All the while decked out in in wild, colorful balloon filled outfits.  To me, this felt like an overtly critical part of the weekend.  Yes, there were rad bands, yes it was solar powered, yes you could take the boats out, build blanket forts in the cabins, explore the woods, AND on top of all that there were wild and colorful balloon creatures trolling about.  It seemed to be the final straw which pushed the weekend from "cool, hip, and rad" to "totally f*cking surreal."  

              Saturday night, as we left the dining hall, I ran into Tommy and his friends out of costume.  "Hey Tommy," I said, "I don't know if you have any extra costumes laying around, but if you do I would love to throw one on for the Moon Hooch set."  Tommy was (of course) incredibly gracious and thrilled to share his art with me.  I went back to their cabin with them, and pulled on the costume, still damp from their excursion to the lake earlier that day.  I rejoined my friends, and danced frantically and chaotically along with the rest of the crowd to Moon Hooch's raw and lively set, thrilled to be able to contribute to the party.   

 

Check out our interview with Wenzl McGowen of Moon Hooch here.

A huge thanks again to the folks at Destination Moon and Big Picture Media for having us.