by Kyle Taylor
This weekend, against all my ominous feelings of a possible approaching disaster, I decided to make the trek up to beautiful upstate New York for the first annual Huson Project music festival. Unfortunately, there was nothing beautiful about the weekend, aside from some amazing people and some fantastic music. The festival coordination and management however, is another story. From the moment I arrived until the very moment I left, it was quite clear that The Hudson Project did not care about its patron’s safety or experience.
Let’s start with the radical amount of police presence. Sure, there’s going to be some police at a large music festival; unfortunately it’s inescapable in this day and age. But that doesn’t excuse a company from taking the necessary measures to keep the police out. Instead, for The Hudson Project, it seemed their concern was getting as many police possible into the festival. There were three checkpoints going into the festival, each patrolled by police and K9 units. In addition, each time a patron went from campsite to stage, he or she was also subject to police and K9 presence.
The argument is often that police are present to ensure safety. Yet, the police at The Hudson Project were there for a whole other reason. Writing someone a $2,500 ticket for an ounce of MDMA, then sending him or her back to the festival isn’t worrying about safety, it’s an attempt to pull extra money into the local police department. Oh, and the cameras. At each stage and light post throughout the festival, there were hidden cameras constantly being hawked to catch festival-goers in the act and track them.
Camping was a mess in itself as well. We arrived Friday- the first day of the festival- only to find out that we couldn’t enter the camping grounds for a half hour as camping space had already run out. The festival obviously did not plan accordingly for the amount of patrons, which created problems for many all weekend.
The stage production was quite nice admittedly. Clearly a good chunk of change was spent on lights, sound, and artists. However, this is a multi-million dollar corporation with a multi-million dollar festival being run. Shouldn’t there have been some money put into the other experiences of a music festival for the patrons? There were hardly any art installations or any additional production around the festival grounds. Once again pointing us to the obvious conclusion: money was priority number one.
If the police aren’t going to be friendly, you might at least expect security to be on our side. But oh no, not at The Hudson Project. Patrons were subject to random searches at all times; and, in many cases, nothing illegal was found and the person was released. I had the pleasured of being selected for one of these searches. When I asked if, “Have I done anything wrong?” and “Am I being detained?”, I received a blunt, “No.” as I continued to be drug through the mud. My belongings were then scattered in a 10 foot radius of all directions around me, and upon finding nothing illegal, I was left to collect my belongings, some of which were lost.
On to Sunday I guess (it’s getting hard to keep talking about this awful mess). After a thunderstorm Sunday, the entire day of music was shut down. This forewent us sets from 12th Planet, Paper Diamond, Infected Mushroom, Bassnectar and Tipper. For many patrons, Sunday was the reason they came to the festival in the first place. Safety and weather is an issue, but this was a simple thunderstorm. There was no extreme weather and absolutely zero reason to suspend Sunday’s events.
Patrons were then asked to immediately evacuate the festival. Given that music started at 2 and the shut down happened at 4PM, many patrons were already getting drunk and otherwise inhibited in their campsites. This meant leaving would once again put them at risk of driving under the influence. Yet police forced patrons to get in their cars and drive, just so they could pull them over a mile down the highway outside the festival for driving under the influence.
The parking lot was a mudslide. Cars were getting stuck left and right. Now this is a naturally occurring problem the Hudson Project had little control over, but what they could have done (at the very least) was have a few tow trucks on duty. Instead, there was one tow truck on duty (for an upwards of 10,000 person festival). The police continued to laugh and smirk during the ordeal, as well as refuse help to any patrons in need.
Just about the only redeeming factor of the festival is the refund they will be granting patrons. All patrons who bought a Sunday pass will be granted a full refund for their ticket. All full weekend patrons will receive a 33% refund for the Sunday shutdown. This has been announced on The Hudson Project’s official Facebook page and can be seen HERE.
It should also be mentioned that the EMTs were quite nice and very helpful all weekend.
All we can hope is that The Hudson Project never happens again and this was a one time deal.