Ithaca, NY- On a brisk weekend in upstate New York this fall, multi-platinum selling rock band X Ambassadors returned to their hometown of Ithaca, NY to host a one day festival for the people that made them who they are. CAYUGA SOUND was curated by the band and represents the eclectic range of music that they listened to as youth and is, above all, a heartfelt “Thank You” to the community that raised them.
Blurred Culture was able to have a pair of its contributors (Cortney & Shoshana) to descend upon the idyllic city of Ithaca to cover some of the musical festivities. Here are some of their off-the-cuff thoughts and of the bands they were able to catch and some photos from the weekend. Enjoy!
Just 20 years ago, the two brothers up on stage used to run around the park as campers. From water balloon tosses to festival performances, X Ambassadors played for thousands, on a warm (shocking for Ithaca) night. Former teachers, campers, college students, and those all the way from the other side of the country came to a small park in Ithaca, NY to celebrate the birth of what will hopefully be an ongoing musical tradition.
Jukebox The Ghost … how much do we love these guys? Well, a ton and we can’t gush about them enough. Ben, Tommy and Jessie we love you and we’re not worthy. They were the first highlight of the day when they launched into their set. Debuting songs off their new album and treating us to old favorites, smiles just start to happen when they perform. The song “Sound Of A Broken Heart” is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and it was their fantastic Queen cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that sent Shoshana running back into the pit for video (see below).
Jukebox The Ghost’s “HalloQueen” show is running low on tickets tickets in Philly and their San Fran and Chicago shows are sold out, and for good reason. I got to attend the first time they attempted such an undertaking and this tradition is amazing. Seriously if you can get there, make it so! (Cortney)
Savoir Adore is a Brooklyn based band that is known for their atmospheric melodies. Though their lineup has changed throughout the years, their music has always been based on a sound grounded in synths and guitar that has been described as “dreamy, synth-heavy, dance-oriented” pop.
Savoir Adore are always creating magic, and Paul Hammer and Lauren Zettler just have that chemistry that truly makes you feel that “Dreamers” are the future and “Giants” are everywhere. Their sets are always uplifting and inspiring people to go out and find higher love. As Shoshana put it after the set ~ “That was just magic. (Cortney)
Crush Club is another NYC based band and all we can say is, “Wow.” Period.
They were the unexpected surprise of the festival. Fusing latin style percussion with heavy hitting bass lines, their brand of synth pop nothing like I’ve ever hear. Not only were we impressed with their sound, but we were VERY blown away by the high energy fun they had on stage while thumping their fun tunes.
DJ TC Milan was the ring master and the band never let up for a second. The pace and energy was so relentless, I wondered when they even had a moment to catch their own breaths. Really can’t wait to hear more from this band. (Cortney)
One of the few non-NYC based acts that we were able to catch was the inimitable K.Flay. This multi-talented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist has a sound that really transcends any particular genre. Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Electronic … her latest album “Every Where is Some Where” was released earlier this year, and Cayuga Sound was lucky to catch her touring in support of her new album, especially since she was an act performed a longer set in order to fill in for the time lost by The Knocks having to drop out from participating due to a death in the family.
K. Flay never disappoints, and she got the crowd jumping right from the get go. It is always exciting to see a performer feel their music as if the root of the song is still raw and K. Flay has that ability. She always brings a fresh energy to her performances and that’s why it always feels like I’m seeing her for the first time. Her raw power emanates through her body when she thrashes across the stage, and her words and delivery are as piercing as her blue eyes when she pulls her jet black hair away from her face. (Cortney)
Tei Shi the beautiful siren was probably the MVP of the festival. First time festivals never go off without a hitch, and judging by the length of her set she was not only covering for the fact that The Knocks had to drop out due to a death in the family, but she had to deal with some technical glitches on the main stage … which she handled with a grace that speaks volumes on her professionalism.
Her set was incredible, my theory is that her songs actually influenced the timing of the waves on the lake and brought the cool refreshing breezes back to the park after a hot day. Her debut album “Crawl Space” is one to check out. (Cortney)
Opening with “Jungle”, X Ambassador’s hometown went wild almost instantaneously. Screaming when there was no music playing, the crowd united to celebrate the success of this festival as well as the success of the band. The X Ambassadors had everyone rooting for them… even the mayor. Referred to by the mayor as “Hometown Heroes”, every member of the audience was a part of the support that helped The X Ambassadors reach their dreams. (Shoshana)
The X Ambassadors gave their hometown some very special “treats”. Some people look forward to returning home to a home-cooked meal. The X Ambassadors returned home and served up a hot plate of brand spanking new music, performing two brand new songs including the first time they performed “Don’t Stay”. After finishing their set, the crowd urged for the band to return for an encore, which request of happily obliged with “Torches”. The next thing you know, Sam was very proudly crowd surfing over the heads in the middle of the audience, before he was surfed back to the stage. (Shoshana)
Just when you thought the energy of the festival had peaked, The Roots take the stage. If you were feeling extra emotional or, for lack of a better word, unsteady after The X Ambassadors played “Unsteady,” The Roots were there to lift you back up. Taking the stage with an exuberant amount of passion and joy, Black Thought, Questlove and company brought even more life to Cayuga Sound. The Roots were a large part of making Cayuga Sound happen. X Ambassador’s Sam explained how The Roots needed to be the headlining act. No exceptions. For X Ambassadors, having The Roots headline their festival was a dream come true. (Shoshana)
I was particularly in awe of The Roots’ sousaphone player, Damon, “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson. His solos were infectious. The way he worked the intricate choreography while performing his incredible solos was simply breathtaking. Of course Black Thought and Questlove are amazing, and induced everyone in the crowd to groove with person next to you, but Damon took the groove in the audience to a whole new level. And when X Ambassadors joined The Roots on stage so sing some blues? That was about as sublime a moment as there could have been. (Shoshana)
That was really fucking cool. Let’s do it again next year. (Cortney)
If an image below is pixelated, please click through the “view full size” link for a better view.
Thank you, Ithaca. That was a blast. pic.twitter.com/inlrgy5HgK
— Cayuga Sound Fest (@cayugasound) September 29, 2017
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) October 6, 2017
— Derrick K. Lee (@methodman13) October 6, 2017