If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve attended a music festival in the past, such as EDC or Ultra. While these mainstream festivals are phenomenal in their own ways, the underground scene makes up for what they lack. There are so many options for underground festivals, but my favorite on the East Coast is Hydrotechnics. What separates Hydrotechnics from larger festivals is the unique combination of intimacy and safety, which is hard to maintain at events with ludicrous amounts of people.
The welcoming vibes are unmatched when compared to any other festival I’ve been to. I was hesitant upon first hearing about it, as I was still convinced popular festivals were the only ones worth attending. Face it, we’ve all been there. The large and in charge festivals are hard to pass up. I now realize that riding the rail at the mainstage is not always the only option. Can you imagine actually having elbow room and being able to dance freely at the mainstage? Imagine being reunited with your group in a matter of minutes after losing them, as opposed to fighting through swarms of ravers, just to find a few familiar faces.
At Hydrotechnics, everyone treats each other like family and we look out for each other. The staff and security are the most helpful and kind-hearted people I’ve come across in life. People are generous, handing out free food and supplies to those in need, or just because it feels good to give! One year, I lost my phone twice in one night and had it returned to me before I realized it was missing! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… what an idiot, right? Nevertheless, I’m usually checking my phone every few minutes at big events while looking out for pick-pockets (whom we all hate). The truth is, I feel so comfortable at Hydrotechnics I could pass out anywhere, confident my belongings would be in my pocket where I left them.
Hydrotechnics is probably the closest thing to an old school rave you can experience in this day and age. The event goes from Thursday to Sunday morning and the beats are pumping from start to finish. It’s a camping festival, so I recommend getting there as early as possible to secure a good camping location. Even if you show up a bit late, people are generally helpful about making room for you to set up and will welcome you with open arms.
Hydrotechnics is an intimate experience, hosting three separate stages (not counting the renegade stage, where attendees randomly show up and throw down their own sets) which are all located along a beautiful lake and typically all have different genres playing. The Pavilion, their Mainstage, is under a gazebo to shelter from inclement weather. This is where most of the heavy hitters will be found from day to night, typically featuring Techno, Drum n’ Bass, and House DJs for headliners. This stage also has a ball pit, which I love to jump in and lose my phone every once in a while.
The Woods Stage, my personal favorite, lights up the woods at night and usually features Jungle, Hardcore and (more) Drum n’ Bass. The Lake Stage is located at the far end of the lake and is a wildcard when it comes to what genre is playing. Although, you will find most Trance acts at this stage, so I’m there often. Another thing to love about Hydrotechnics is the practical absence of sound bleeding between stages. This is nearly impossible to eliminate at multi-stage events in big cities, due to lack of space. Aside from the music, there is a large variety of food and merchandise vendors found throughout the fest.
Hydrotechnics is less about the flashy attractions and more about keeping the good vibes rolling. For those who thought PLUR was dead… this is most definitely the place to change your thoughts on that matter. Personally, I’d trade a few big names that I’ve seen perform multiple times already, for the vibes and lesser-known talent I find here. The best part… the festival costs literally half the price of most big events I’ve been to (early bird tickets have started as cheap as $120 for three days including camping).
This fest has a special place in my heart and it keeps me coming back for more. I’ve attended three years in a row and will most likely not skip a year unless something majorly important conflicts. Past headliners have included Doc Martin, John 00 Fleming, Joey Beltram, Gettoblaster and Dieselboy. The festival takes place July 23-26 and is located in Afton, NY (about 4 hours from NYC). If you are looking for a change of pace from the mainstream scene and want to explore the underground, this is the PERFECT place to start… I promise you.
*Featured Image of Hydrotechnics Via Matthew Modica*