On Friday the 13th, I attended the first night of the second annual music festival held at the Basilica Hudson in Hudson, New York. Last year this event had the functional title of “Basilica Music Fest.” This year, they called it Basilica Soundscape. Hudson, New York — a city of just over 6,000 people in Columbia County — is becoming known a music destination in the Hudson Valley (as mentioned by Mary Kay Vrba from Hudson Valley Tourism). The programming at Basilica Hudson, and especially this annual event, are some of the main reasons for this reputation.
Basilica is a 19th-century factory located on the city’s waterfront, just a two-minute walk from the city’s train station. It was purchased a couple of years ago by independent filmmaker Tony Stone (a Bard College graduate) and musician Melissa Auf der Maur (formerly of Hole and Smashing Pumpkins), who thought its unique grounds, vast interiors and industrial grit would make an ideal space for art, performance, production and events. Perhaps unlike most owners of music venues or art galleries in the Hudson Valley, Stone and Auf der Maur had the creative-industry credentials and personal contacts to put the new Basilica Hudson on the map right away. With capacity for about 1,000 people, Basilica Soundscape doesn’t try to be an all-purpose music festival. The musicians, artists, and writers who contributed to the event tended toward the extreme, avant-garde and “ethereal doom” (as the New York Times put it). Yet they brought out a remarkable variety of attendees in terms of age and lifestyle, from college students and Brooklyn hipsters to an older art audience.
The event also hosted food trucks, pop-up stores, and other new trends in urbanism not usually associated — at least for now — with a small, upstate city like Hudson.