Unifier Festival is only in it’s second year but boy do these folks get it! This is how a festival should be. If you are a sound system snob like me you would have been one happy camper. The two sound stages had a deep and crisp quality to the sound. Unlike most festival sound systems, it never reached that annoying level where there is too much treble or too much bass. It almost reminded me of a Jamaican sound system.
When festivals are smaller and non-corporate, one feels much more at ease and connected to complete strangers as opposed to feeling lost in the crowd. We all felt like big fish is a small pond. It was also brilliant that the second smaller stage allowed for a more intimate experience for the audience and while one act is performing they would queue up the next act on the opposite stage. Seems like a no brainer, but how many festivals have you been to where the sound systems are clashing and the acts are totally backed up because it takes them forever to set up and sound check?
The highlight of the weekend was my all time favorite 12 piece afrobeat band, Antibalas. Half the people there under 30 had never heard of them which was totally crazy to me. It probably just means that sadly, I’m getting old. Their set was incredible per usual, not much has changed there over the years accept they just keep getting tighter and tighter. I’m a piano player so I was totally mesmerized by the organ player and of course they ended with classic Fela Kuti covers which always makes everyone go nuts.
On the complete flip side, I also really enjoyed Wildlight. The duo’s live performance mostly off a laptop was a little lack luster but the music was insatiably groovy and deep. The crowd was definitely getting their groove on to The Polish Ambassador‘s latest trip-hop collabo.
The location in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, although a tad bit too spread out, was utterly breathtaking, especially for those who were able to camp out on the lake which was more like a pond, Blueberry Pond to be exact. Our crew had the sweet spot and every morning we took a refreshing swim in the pristine waters and leisurely kayaked around the small pond for free. It’s no wonder the festival was rated as one of the top small festivals in the country after just one year. If you are looking for a conscious music festival that’s family friendly, non commercial, non hipster, with quality musicianship and incredible live performances, start planning for Unifier Festival 2016!