The Big Up Music Fesitval Recap

The Big Up Festival went down last week from August 8th-10th at Hemlock Hollow Farm in Claverack, NY. Unfortunately, I had another shoot I could not miss on Saturday, so I had to skip the sets on the 10th. With that said, I did manage to catch up with Dopapod, Escort and FiKus. Full interviews will be coming along this week and next week. 001-DSC_2263Although some rain did manage to take over much of Friday, the weekend was an overall success and the music was pretty damn phenomenal.


Day 1

Elephant Wrecking Ball006-DSC_2464This dubbed out trio of accomplished musicians has been making a name for themselves in the North East since 2009. Comprised of Scott Flynn on Trombone (John Brown’s Body), Neal Evans on drums (Dopapod), and Dan Africano on bass(Nicky Egan, Cashed Fools), their sound will have you wanting much more. 003-DSC_2362 Neal Evans described the name of the band to us as meaning that he and Dan Africano are the wrecking ball of the band, while Scott is the Elephant leading the charge. 002-DSC_2316For more info check out:

008-DSC_2490 FiKus are one of those North Eastern bands that I wish would tour down south.

007-DSC_2488Their funked out hip-hop, blues, rock and everything else under the sun tunes, please just about every musical palette.

010-DSC_2586 Check out the vids to get a little more FiKus.

009-DSC_2514 For more info check out:

014-DSC_2636When I walked out of the woods after checking out that stage, I came upon Lespecial. I was entranced by their acid rock riffs into dancey jam sessions. Here’s some Lespecial for you to check out:

015-DSC_2749 For more info check out:

Lazer Sex
017-DSC_2881 Lazer Sex is pretty aptly named when you hear their music. A combination of funky dance grooves with synth beats, these guys tore it up playing just before Dopapod took the stage. Here’s some of their tunes:


023-DSC_3051 The woods stage looked crazy at night, The Big Up did a great job of creating this visual wonderland.


035-DSC_3393 Rob, Eli, Chuck and Neal are probably some of the most talented, fun loving dudes that I have come across in the festival scene. Every time I meet up with these guys, they have some crazy story to tell me.

032-DSC_3294 The guys set at Big Up was off the chain and drew the largest crowd of the day on Thursday.

034-DSC_3358 The guys closed out the set with their surprise hit “Trapper Keeper”.

030-DSC_3236 Here’s a little free downloadable tuneage from these Berklee grads:

027-DSC_3133 I also mentioned earlier in the article that Neal plays drums for Elephant Wrecking Ball, definitely check them out as well when you get a chance.

037-DSC_3405 We actually met up with our super funky buddies, keep an eye out for the interview this week and you’ll get to hear about Chuck almost dying the night before Big Up, Dopadosio and what the guys think Dopapod would look like if the band were a singular lady.

040-DSC_3496 For more info check out:

041-DSC_3596 Gotta be honest, I had heard a lot of Hype about Gigamesh. I just was not impressed. To be honest I am almost positive that the monitors on stage were louder than the actual speakers for the crowd. Very disappointing, when your DJing you want that music so loud you can feel it shaking your insides.

Cosmic Dust Bunnies
044-DSC_3699 Cosmic Dust Bunnies are another one of those North East jam bands that I wish was in the southern jam circuit. Their jammed out dance tunes were not what I was expecting. Definitely check out the link below to hear these CT natives tunes.

045-DSC_3762 There was also this beautiful stream just outside the woods stage and woods camping.


048-DSC_3843 For more info check out:

Day 2
049-DSC_3846 Pretty much all morning it rained on Friday. The rain did stop for a short while at noon and then continued to pour down until 4.

051-DSC_3855 The entire grounds had basically become a muddy swamp, the roads were manageable in my boots but the majority of festival goers chose to go-it barefoot.


Timbre Coup
057-DSC_4042 I think Kung Fu guitarist Tim Palmeri described these guys best as “a band of compositional rebellion…Transcendental ProgRock at its finest!”.

060-DSC_4116When you get write down to it, Palmeri hit that description on the head, especially when you take the bands names meaning into account. Timbre [tam-ber]: the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice; tone color. Coup [koo]: a sudden successful, unexpected stroke, act or move; a hostile takeover.

059-DSC_4092 When it comes to jammy prog-rock these fellas know how to play in-tune together, check out some of their tunes:





Kung Fu
075-DSC_4530 Enter the Fu! After a flat tire and a quick set time/stage change, Kung Fu took the stage by storm dropping heavy loads of funk tunes.

064-DSC_4291 Set highlights included: Snaggle, Do The Right Thing and Gung Ho.

067-DSC_4362 Stoops!

066-DSC_4305 Rob Somerville was obviously in a great mood, he and Palmeri were vibing like crazy during their set.





071-DSC_4441 For more info check out:

055-DSC_4026 Escort is crazy good. Like seriously amazing. This 17-piece group has mastered the perfect revival sound of the bygone disco era. Combining super funky disco grooves with MGMT-esque synths, the crowd at any festival is sure to go bananas over their set.

086-DSC_4794In fact, Adeline and the guys were telling me in our interview to come next week that when they played Dartmouth, there were literally people humping the monitors.

081-DSC_4671 Check out some of their tunes here:





Holy Fuck
104-DSC_5006 Holy Fuck absolutely blew my mind. These Canadian natives make improvised prog-rock dance beats that would be hard to classify into the dance genre. Oddly enough I feel that some of the influences I hear in their music include the likes of underground cult legends Broken Social Scene, Ghostland Observatory and Converge.

106-DSC_5026 These Canadian natives make improvised prog-rock dance beats that would be hard to classify into the dance genre. Oddly enough I feel that some of the influences I hear in their music include the likes of underground cult legends Broken Social Scene, Ghostland Observatory and Converge.

113-DSC_5143 Once again, I feel the hype of an awesome band originally turned me off from them.
110-DSC_5068I had heard all sorts of great things about these guys. Seeing them live though is more than just going to a show. Its a performance of improvisation that works so unbelievably well that these guys are sure to make a huge imprint on music today.




120-DSC_5290For more info check out:


126-DSC_5359 First off, damn I wish I had gotten into Jojo Mayer and Nerve much sooner.

129-DSC_5413Formed in 1997, Nerve consists of Takuya Nakamura on Synths, John Davis on bass and drumming virtuoso Jojo Mayer.

130-DSC_5418 Nerve is often credited as one of the founding groups of livetronica.

127-DSC_5390 It’s immediately apparent at their live show just how talented Jojo Mayer is.

132-DSC_5476 While the synths bass add some real texture, it’s pretty obvious that they are just compliments to the extraordinary rhythms produced by Mayer.




122-DSC_5342 For more info check out:

Day 3(Photos by August J.Photography)
BU-PRE-059 My buddy August took some incredibly amazing photos over the weekend. Since I missed out on Saturday I thought I would share some of the highlights from August’s set of photos. Check out his amazing work at:






Kung Fu Tribute To Prince


Beats Antique





For more info check out:

-Phil Sunkel


3 thoughts on “The Big Up Music Fesitval Recap”

  1. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same
    comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?


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