Losing it at Meltasia Music Festival

Normally you panic when you lose something important, like your phone or your mind. But at Meltasia it’s encouraged.

After riding in psych rockers Max Pain & The Groovies’ dirty rock ‘n’ roll bus—nicknamed “Das Busch”—with members of NYC-punks Flasyd and Max Pain & The Groovies through hours of heavy city traffic, arriving at Uncle Pete’s Campground in Phoenicia, NY felt like landing on a different world. There was no cellphone service. Only dozens of dirty show rats and musicians.

We popped out of the bus roof to breathe in the fresh mountain air and shout to the melters we’d arrived.

We pulled up as The Brooklyn Bluebirds finished their set, pitched camp and got ready to rumble. We had our dinner, which for some was acid and for others shrooms, paired with chips and beer and then ran to the main tent to start experiencing Meltasia’s wonderment.

Butthole Surfers’ frontman Gibby Haynes performed with an orchestra of kids from The Paul Green Rock Academy. The youngsters knew how to shred and looked so excited to be onstage. It was a beautiful and refreshing way to kick off the festivities.

The groovy times kept rolling with a set from old school rocker Bloodshot Bill, who was backed by surf/rockabilly trio The Televisionaries. It was a pleasant surprise for Melter veterans who’d seen Bill rock the festival a few years before.

After the live music, everyone continued raging in the main tent while the DJ blasted doo-wop and the lightshow drenched the walls with trippy colors.

I decided to explore the festival grounds. A few steps away from the main tent, a circle of trees had branches draped with rainbow string lights around a couch and a mirror that read, “this may be a disillusionment, but I can dream, can’t I?” A small baseball field near the trippy grove hosted a film screen showing old kung fu flicks, the 1935 version of The Bride of Frankenstein and the black and white Western Gundown about a cowboy seeking revenge for his raped and murdered wife.

After wandering around for a while, I found Das Busch bursting with tripping melters. We cry-laughed uncontrollably while stuffed inside this bus like a clown car and then decided to go skinny dipping.

After trekking in the dark down a hidden path through the forest we found a small swimming hole. Everyone’s butts and boobs came out to say hello to the moon and splash around. Eventually, the night chill hit and we all needed warming up.

Can you believe that was just the first night?

The next day my phone was missing and my head was buzzing. With zero cell service, I figured it was pointless to worry about my phone. Instead, we headed to the creek to wash away our sins and emerge anew.

After the creek, we caught the first band of the day, SUO, a project by Boytoy’s Saara Untracht-Oakner. The five-piece rocked out and got the damp audience swaying.

Ten bands stormed the stage on day two, including The Advertisers, Brower, Flasyd and Shit Horse until 5 p.m. Glam punk Scott Yoder was supposed to play at 6 p.m., but their van had broken down, so the show continued straight to the epic Canadian swingers Tandoori Knights, playing together for the first time in years.

Warm Drag, King Khan & The BBQ Show and Cumgirl8 took the stage in flaboyant outfits. Warm Drag filled the room with fog as their experimental dance punk tunes flowed from the pile of speakers standing in the center of the stage. King Khan & The BBQ played in BDSM masks and leather straps as they got dancers to sink into the ground. And Cumgirl8 let their sexuality be part of their performance as they raged in mesh, leather or duct taped bikinis.

Scott Yoder finally arrived and his epic performance closed out the night beautifully. Dressed in all white, Yoder used his voice to create intricate melodies all while also controlling his own lights and fog machine.

We partied to more doo-wop songs, watched some more vintage films, raged in Das Busch and took a mind-break in the trippy grove of trees. Before returning to our tents to finally sleep, we spaced out to the night sky filled with shooting stars and heat lightning. The next morning, we woke up feeling like Meltasia was just a dream that went by too fast.

As we packed up to go, reality reared its ugly head. Das Busch was cleaned out, tents were packed away and my cellphone reappeared. All signs that it was time to go back to real life.

The ride back was quiet and sleepy. We all were recovering and saying our goodbyes to the magical weekend.

Till next year, Meltasia.

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