You're in the middle of a remote clearing ringed by tall trees. Dotting the grounds is a menagerie of colorfully painted, Munchkin-sized, cartoon-fairytale structures that resemble the obstacles of a 1950s-era miniature golf course. Cute. But walk a little closer and you'll see the paint on these little buildings, in which exotic animals once slept, is peeling. The weeds are enveloping them and their walls are crumbling. The soundtrack for your jaunt is raw live music by some of the wildest acts around. No, it's not an acid trip gone awry. This is the former Catskill Game Farm and now the site of Meltasia, a music festival that will take place on September 2, 3, and 4.
To our tour guide, the festival's appropriately named organizer Andy Animal, the greatest intoxication comes from presenting edgy live musical events. "I love the idea of creating a great vibe, it's like a drug to me," says Animal, who grew up locally, fronts Brooklyn garage rockers Stalkers, and remains one of the New York underground's most beloved scenemakers. "Expect to hear a far-out mix of psychedelic, punk, 1950s-style rock 'n' roll, foul-mouthed, female-fronted country, classic hip-hop, boogie woogie, pop, New Orleans bounce, YouTube weirdos, heavy rock,...the list goes on."
That list contains sets by nearly 30 artists, the majority of them the kind of unhinged acts rarely seen in upstate jam-band territory: e.g., Shannon and the Clams, Fat White Family, Pentagram, Dirty Fences, Murphy's Law, the Mystery Lights, Bloodshot Bill, Natural Child, White Mystery, Kool Keith, Sheer Mag, Weird Paul Petrosky, the Tough Shits, Vockha Redu, Hector's Pets, and the Nude Party, and many others, plus "special secret super guests"; locals include It's Not Night: It's Space, Ultraam, and a 1980s hardcore tribute by Paul Green Rock Academy students. Hosting the first two nights will be surreal San Francisco comedian Neil Hamburger, and there'll be DJs as well. "You will not be hearing any EDM," asserts Animal.
Once marketed as "America's Greatest Zoological Playground," the 914-acre Catskill Game Farm was founded in 1933 and closed in 2006. Although the demise saw its alligators, rhinos, monkeys, snakes, warthogs, and other creatures sold to zoos and rescue organizations and its amusement rides auctioned off, many of its original fixtures remain. "People are gonna be camping in the old animal enclosures, and some of the performances will be in the cages," says Animal, who staged the first Meltasia festival in Georgia in 2014. "The concession stands have been cleaned up and will be used as bars and for craft vending."
"We've been wanting to play at Meltasia since we first found out about it," says Mystery Lights guitarist LA Solano, whose group is based in Brooklyn. "[The festival site] looks crazy! And with Andy involved you're always guaranteed a wild weekend."
Meltasia will take place at Catskill Game Farm in Catskill on September 2, 3, and 4. Gates open at noon on September 2. Tickets are $120 for all three days; $85 for September 3 and 4 only; and $50 for September 4 only. The event is for those 18 and older.