The eighth year of Disc Jam was another one for the books. The four-day music, arts and camping festival held at Gardner’s Farm in Stephentown, New York, blew up on day one with sold-out attendance. Disc Jam 2018 went from June 7 to June 10 creating a four-day miniature community with non-stop music, food, workshops, Disc Golf, and good vibes! Gardner’s Farm hosted more than 100 live musical acts, 35-plus eclectic food and craft vendors, profound visual live artists The Flow Tribe Hoopers, Disc Golf tournaments, and a place for more than 5,000 people to gather for 4 days to enjoy each other’s company. Not to mention that the beautiful weather held up all weekend for us, too!
Buffalo-native groove rock jam band Aqueous, who has been taking over the jam scene over the past several years, took the main stage at Disc Jam at 7 p.m. June 7 for an insane two-hour set. Lonny Chin got a few minutes to sit down with the bandmates and this is what they had to say about Disc Jam, their new album, “Element Pt. 2 (Live 2017),” and what the future holds for them!
Lonny: Hey guys! Thank for meeting with us! So you’re back at your seventh Disc Jam in a row now?
Dave: Has it been that many?
Mike: Yes! Every year that passes, I can’t believe that that much time has passed. This was one of the first festivals that we ever drove to, like outside of Buffalo, that we actually had to plan a trip for, and we’re really glad to be back!
Lonny: Over the years, the festival has evolved a ton, what would you say your favorite part is about Disc Jam?
Mike: It’s a good vibe here every year. I really like that we can count on a lot of our musician friends on being here because this “scene” that Tony’s cultivated happens to be a lot of bands that we spend a lot of time touring with, so it’s like a little reunion. Every year, the lineup seems to get better and we’re always glad to be able to come back to jam here!
Evan: I also like to make this joke, “I’m so glad to see everyone’s discs.”
Rob: Yeah, we’ve been comparing everyone’s discs.
Lonny: You guys ever play?
Rob: I used to play a lot when I was in high school but I threw out my shoulder.
Lonny: What do you think about this year compared to previous years?
Mike: I think it stepped up quite a bit, for the first night on a Thursday, there’s already great attendance. I think the whole weekend will definitely be over the top.
Rob: Driving in, I think I saw more people tonight than last year overall. I also think the lineup this year definitely tops the previous ones.
Lonny: So you just played this outstanding set back in your home state, what else do you have lined up?
Mike: So we actually fly to Denver tomorrow where we’re headlining a show on Saturday at Bluebird Theatre and then we’re off to Electric Forest after that.
Lonny: Both weekends, right?
All: Both weekends!
Mike: We’re actually flying back to Colorado to play Beanstalk Festival with a really cool lineup in between the two weekends of Forest. Definitely really excited to play, if you guys have any magic beans to throw, bring ‘em! Then back to Forest for weekend two, then Peach Fest back in Pennsylvania. Then there’s a “local-ish” one back in Buffalo called “Cobblestone.” Killer diverse lineup.
Rob: They do a really good job with their lineup, like here at Disc, where it’s very diverse, as is Buffalo’s music scene is. Being able to introduce a bunch of diverse stuff in one centralized place brings a lot of people together.
Lonny: Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences with festivals, coming from Buffalo in Upstate New York, and how they’ve evolved over the past few years as you’ve been playing bigger festivals?
Mike: I think that every single festival has, like, its own universe. The energy, the people, there’s a different vibe at every different festival and that’s most of the fun — you have to learn how to tap into these crowds and figure out what to play that everyone will vibe to. With E-forest, its lineup is inherently a little more EDM-based, so maybe we’ll do some more danicer stuff there or maybe go the opposite way and stand out a little bit. The size of the festival dictates its feel. Disc Jam is a nice medium-sized festival, it’s not the smallest local fest anymore, but it’s not like 40,000 people where it gets crazy to just get around. It’s nice to do the “in-betweens,” it’s manageable and easy to get around.
Rob: Sometimes at the big ones, I gotta walk around for days just to get something to eat.
Mike: But they’re all cool, the diversity in lineups is good for us too and it’s always a good way to spend the summertime.
Lonny: You just released “Element Pt. 2,” a combo of live performances from 2017. Can you tell us a little bit about the album and how you chose the specific songs for the album — and those specific songs from those specific sets?
Dave: A lot of the songs were picked from fans that commented online from those specific sets and certain songs. We kinda used that to go through them and pick which ones. Going off of fan recommendations, in a way, is like we wanted to do. We have a fan group called “AQuaintances” — everyone has big discs in there. It helps narrow it down.
Mike: It’s all for them, we try to be in touch with what it was that they liked about the sets and songs. We kinda let them pick and choose
Evan: There’s so many shows I think were the worst shows we ever played and it’ll be someone’s favorite show.
Rob: It’ll be everyone’s favorite show!
Mike: The funniest thing about that is that 85, 90 percent of that time, it sounded better than we thought and they turn out to be the best sets.
Rob: Those little mistakes that make it different is what live music’s all about.
Mike: If there’s something going wrong, you’re out of your comfort zone. If you’re in your comfort zone, you’re gonna play all the same stuff.
Lonny: Can you tell us any future plans for the band, music and touring?
Mike: Right now in the pipeline, there’s a brand new album coming with unreleased material we’ve been sitting on and haven’t been playing live. We’re stoked about it and very excited to show people this other side of the band. We’re gonna do a megatour after the album drops all over the U.S.!
Lonny: Guys, thanks so much for sitting down with us and we’re looking forward to see what you guys will do next!
Mike Gantzer - (Guitar/Vocals)
Dave Loss - (Guitar/Keys/Vocals)
Evan McPhaden - (Bass)
Rob Houk- (Drums)
Every year the lineup seems to get better and more diverse. Lotus, Beats Antique, The Disco Biscuit’s side project — Electron, DJ Logic, Aqueous, Moon Hooch, Galactic, The Motet and Kung Fu were just some of the 100-plus artists sharing the four stages at Disc Jam. The two main stages and tent stage seemed to host the jam-based artists while The Woods Stage, along with the nightly Silent Discos, hosted the electronic dance and bass based artists. Disc Jam’s lineup is always curated for people to explore and discover new types of music and artists that they’ve never heard before. Tony Scavone and his crew believe that the people who come to Disc Jam share the same kind of values and, in return, would enjoy and appreciate all the music that is there, which creates a very tight community. The Woods Stage had nightly take-overs by separate promotion companies that promoted different types of electronic, music which definitely added to the diversity of music offered. From last year, it seemed like there were almost twice as many food and craft vendors that ran between the Main Stages and Tent Stage for people to check out and wander through between sets. The Flow Tribe Hoopers were dancing all day and night around the festival grounds giving some unique twist to the musical performances. I got around to trying out Disc Golf for the first time, although since I cannot throw a “disc” (or Frisbee) to save my life, I was not all that great, but with some help from some fellow acquaintances, I was still able to get it in a couple times!
As I packed up my buddy’s car on Sunday morning, I was more than certain there will be a Disc Jam 2019. Everyone I saw was having a great time, the music was indulging, the weather and scenery was beautiful, and I left with a list of artists I had to check out online when I got back home. Although this year sold out, will there be another Disc Jam at Gardner’s Farm, or will they have to move someplace else? Definitely looking forward to seeing what Tony and his crew come up with next year!