On the MOVE
If you’re reading this page, you’ve likely had this conversation. Maybe it was late-night at Valentine’s, raving over a killer, yet poorly attended, set by local band X. Or maybe it was half-drunk in front of the stage at Tulip Fest, Alive at Five or Art on Lark, wondering out loud whose idea it was to book that has-been one-hit-wonder from the ’90s. The topic: Why isn’t Albany a music mecca? Centrally located within Northeastern tour routes, home to a handful of universities and plenty of hole-in-the-wall to arena-sized music venues, and featuring cheap enough living to support the most bohemian DIY noise composer, Albany should be another—say it all together now—Austin.
This conversation is nothing new to Delmar-based Indian Ledge Music Group president Bernie Walters, who is attempting to do something about it this weekend with the innaugural MOVE Music Festival. “I would like to see the event evolve into an annual event that will help legitimize Albany and this region as an up-and-coming center of music,” he says, “similar to what happened in Austin, Texas [with the South by Southwest festival].” Although considerably smaller in its first year, the formula Walters and his group of planners [disclosure: I spent a short amount of time on an early planning committee] have followed for MOVE is not dissimilar from SXSW’s every-venue-in-the-neighborhood, round-the-clock trade-show format.
On Saturday (April 21), 10 local venues, mainly in the downtown Pearl Street area (with the exception of Justin’s on Lark Street), will host nonstop live sets from 1 PM to 1 AM, featuring close to 90 bands ranging from the local to the international. “Most of the booking came through ReverbNation,” the online independent music platform, says Walters. “We had over 1,500 artists submit their music for us to consider them. The remaining artists were selected through our regional relationships with local talent.” Headliners include Paranoid Social Club, the Wombats, Black Taxi, MIRK, Zing Experience and the Tins, but the real highlight is the fleet of local acts, including The City Never Sleeps, Cosmonauts, Erin Harkes, Around the World and Back, Wild Adriatic, the Charlie Watts Riots, Olivia Quillio, Skeletons in the Piano and a bunch more.
And, like SXSW, the event will feature a schedule of panel discussions with industry figures in the Pearl Street Room of the Hotel Albany. Presenters include representatives from the Musebox, Horse to Water Marketing, Pirate!, RocketHub, ReverbNation, TuneSat, PledgeMusic and EKG Booking. The idea is to make the festival as much a networking opportunity for performers as it is a good show for audience members.
This weekend’s festival is the culmination of a year’s worth of labor and planning. Walters says that, more than any one logistic in pulling this thing off, “the biggest challenges have been getting people to believe the first year that it can really happen.” Check out movemusicfestival.com for a full schedule of events. The $12 general admission ticket will get you in to all venues.
What do Roscoe Dash, Nappy Roots, Big Sean and the Wu-Tang Clan all have to do with 518 hip-hop? Cohoes-based rapper Fitted.
The 23-year-old has performed with all of the above on their recent local stops and even inspired Nappy Roots to remix his track “Counting Sheep” in March. The video is a nice little Albany snapshot, with some Living Walls murals decorating the otherwise rough street scenes. Riding his momentum into the studio, Fitted also is slated to perform at upcoming Northeast stops of the summer Van’s Warped Tour. “I’m going to put 518 on the map,” he says, “but I’m makin’ sure I do it the right way. I’m going to make upstate New York a staple in hip-hop.”
Right now, if the 518 is on anyone’s national music map, it’s because of Saratoga Springs duo Phantogram, who have spent the past couple years signing record deals, playing destination festivals and late-night TV gigs with ?uestlove, getting played on MTV dramas and getting plugs by the likes of Big Boi and others.
Their latest “no shit!” moment came last week when Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips said, in an interview with Pitchfork, that a collaboration between the two bands is likely to appear on the Lips’ next record. “It’s a real fuckin’ somber, strange song about lusting for success and the things you want in your life,” he goes on to say. Until then, the track will become available on Record Store Day (this Saturday) as part of The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, the band’s special compilation of oddball collaborations. Special editions of the double-vinyl release will include actual blood samples from the collaborators, but there’s no word on whether Sarah and Josh’s cloneable DNA will be included.