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This summer, Randall’s Island became the home of New York City’s newest music festival. Launched by up-and-coming entertainment brand I Love Frisky, Catalpa took place on July 28 + 29, 2012 and brought together artists like Snoop Dogg (playing tracks off of Doggystyle), TV on the Radio, the Sheepdogs, A$AP Rocky, and much more.
The lineup was intriguing, a mashup of the diverse NYC music scene – disco, rap, pop, and rock. The only thing it lacked was soul. That spot had to be filled by performers like TV on the Radio and the Black Keys. It was nobody’s fault that it rained all weekend, but the weather had a detrimental effect on attendance. Crowds at Randall’s Island festivals are usually on the sparser side, but even compared to other events Catalpa was noticeably under-populated.
Truth be told, the festival was poorly organized and hard to work. Catalpa booklets that were printed and distributed onsite had the schedule all wrong. They included a stage and slate of performers that were nowhere to be found, and failed to include the schedule for the High Times reggae stage, causing many people to miss out on standout acts like the Skadanks. Some main stage performers were simply mediocre, and others, like headliner Matisyahu, took away the crowd’s ball and called it a distraction. Snoop Dogg’s laid back set was littered with video dramatizations of the rapper and his crew, and ended 30 minutes early. Kim Schifino’s (of Matt and Kim) failed attempt at booty dancing whilst crowd surfing was just more icing on the cake, although the indie-pop duo did inspire some of the hypest performer-to-audience moments experienced at Catalpa (besides the obvious Girl Talk set).
Highlights were the sultry, danceable, electro-disco outfit Hercules and Love Affair, MPC mastermind AraabMUZIK, two sets with the jam-pop kings of Umphrey’s McGee, and the high-energy full frontal assault that is the Black Keys live.