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Hudson Music Project muddles to the finish line

Kelela during day 3 of the Hudson Music Project festival
Kelela during day 3 of the Hudson Music Project festival
Shawn hebert

The organizers of the inaugural Hudson Music Project, which was held this past weekend in Saugerties, New York, have egg on their faces as the three-day long music festival was canceled Sunday afternoon due to inclement weather that passed through the region.

Friday saw a variety of acts such as STS9, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips and Dr. Dog, my favorite, perform without a hitch.

Saturday saw more foot traffic than Day 1 - an estimated 20,000 fans gathered to see Kendrick Lamar, Moby and the fun, frisky duo of Matt & Kim. ZZ Ward, fresh off her incredible performance at Coachella, may have been Day 2's hidden gem. She played a killer set, including her latest track "Last Love Song", on the Empire stage (the entire festival had a NY theme to it).

On Sunday, Day 3, attendance was noticeably lower than reports of the previous two days. That may have been due to the combination of a grim weather forecast coupled with less notable performers on the numerous stages set up across Winston Farm.

Gates opened at noon on Sunday, with the weather taking a turn for the worse by mid-afternoon. By 5 p.m., festival officials MCP announced that the event would be temporarily suspended due to heavy rain. At 8 p.m, officials declared the entire event canceled as a river of trash and debris flowed through the area.

"Please return to your camp sites to pack up and depart the property as quickly as possible", read a message posted by the festival's Facebook page. It was at this point the outrage began to increase among those still at the event.

Crew members working the show began requesting that people leave the property entirely, which caused fans to bombard the show's social media pages with comments like the following:

I hope you guys understand that if safety is a main priority that you're going to have to live with the fact that you're kicking people out who aren't prepared to leave and there are going to be accidents. Some people are not in the conscious state of mind to be driving.

Comments such as those is what prompted officials to clarify their stance on the situation.

"If you are unable to leave the venue for any reason, please stay in your vehicles until the storm passes or you can depart safely. We do not recommend driving if you are under the influence at all," read a Facebook post from the organizers.

Some managed to get out on Sunday, while others were not so fortunate. Hundreds of stranded festival-goers had their cars stuck in mud, while others sought cover at the nearby Kiwanis Ice Arena where Red Cross had set up a makeshift shelter.

Organizers stated that refunds would be given to those who had passes to attend on Sunday.

If the Hudson Music Project sticks around for another year, it will need to implement some major changes as to the way the festival is run. For starters, the parking situation must be addressed. Trapped vehicles waiting for tractor pulls out of the mud and long shuttle lines at the Ice Arena do nothing but add to the rapidly growing list of frustrations.

Staff and security will need to step up their game if the event lives to see another day. Disorganization and indifference among staffers was rampant. I am not so sure that those working the event weren't pulled off the streets just minutes beforehand.

When I asked one staffer working the exit which way to the shuttles, he pointed in one direction and then another. I asked for clarification, and he told me to go to the information booth. The information booth is a misleading title, since there is no actual information there. Just two young, clueless ladies who seemed to hate having their conversations interrupted by patrons.

The shuttles were located right behind the staffer I had originally asked, in fact he was working the path that leads straight to the buses. Two days later and I remain baffled as to how he could not have known that.

To see if these were isolated incidents, I asked a security guard where the media tent was (hint: it was 10 feet to his right and labeled "media tent" in large letters). He shrugged, his head apparently filled with osmium because he was unable to look up at me. I didn't have one pleasant or positive encounter with any of the workers.

Over 50 drug-related arrests were made at the festival, despite there being four different security checkpoints to go through, the most I have ever encountered for any event. Security dumped out the contents of backpacks and purses at each checkpoint, and while teenagers were getting in with Mollys, security told me to return my camera to the car since it was deemed "too professional". I showed them my photo pass and was eventually let in.

Had they asked me what a photo pass is for, I would have directed them to the information booth.