Stone Tavern Farm, Roxbury
Around a three-hour drive north from New York City, Stone Tavern Farm is nestled in a valley amidst the Catskill Mountains. For 47 hours during the last weekend of July, its rolling hills and lush forest played host to the second iteration of Smangtasia, an intimate weekender put together by New York’s esteemed Sublimate crew.
This year’s Smangtasia felt like a world of its own. From the get-go, the sense of community among the crowd ran deep. The line-up was exclusively composed of North American artists, and most attendees came from New York state, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit, with a welcome emphasis on the Midwest.
Even at the weekend’s most intense moments, the mood felt relaxed. Only one artist played at any given time, and there was plenty of space to explore. Daytime festivities took place on the outdoor stage, a large patio with art installations – cut-up pool noodles, pastel-colored ribbons, and sparkly pinwheels. Cleveland’s In Training crew played us through Saturday afternoon, as people danced, painted their nails, or took paddle boats for a spin on the pond. Kiernan Laveaux closed out the six-hour odyssey with gently clattering polyrhythms, weaving wispy vocal samples through the drums as a soft breeze blew across the crowd. Soon after, synth wizard Abby Echiverri played with the squelchy sounds of her hardware, and Seattle’s CCL guided us into the sunset, playing everything from Yu Su to André 3000.
On Friday and Saturday night, we headed into the barn, which loosely resembled a warehouse from the inside and had been fitted with a bespoke lighting system. Standout sets included Vanity Press’ Black Noi$e and San Francisco’s Carlos Souffront, with an expert selection of playful, burnished acid tracks. It was during the sunrise slots, however, that the barn filled with a certain type of magic – the pale light shot through the slats of the building, mixing with the multicoloured strobes and casting an otherworldly glow over the crowd.
Sunday morning’s “special guest” was Donny Burlin, a legendary Baltimore DJ and curator of the Sublimate-affiliated Brooklyn DIY venue Space Is The Place, who played exactly the kind of ecstatic breaks you want to hear as the dawn fog lifts. On Sunday afternoon, we were revitalised by Soul 2 Seoul, AKA Sublimate co-founder Turtle Bugg and resident Chung in an effortlessly flowing back-to-back. The duo tapped into the sweet spot of rhythms that compel you to instinctively move your body, from disco to electro to soul to Parliament’s Agony of Defeet, which was particularly well-received. Their set captured the overriding energy of the event – an intoxicating pull, something you can’t help but give your body and mind over to.