It’s that time of year when summer officially starts to wind down. The Erie County Fair is underway, people might be getting ready to head back to school, and the festival season is coming to an end. But that’s not the case for Night Lights music festival held in Sherman, N.Y. located about an hour away from Buffalo. This particular festival is about to get underway. This is the time when the sun goes down, the lights go on, and the music goes up! It’s a three-day excursion of audio bliss and sensory overload, and it’s just about to begin.
This year’s Night Lights music and arts festival boasts a wide array of artists, sure to keep both day and nighttime festivities revved up in high energy mode. Setting the vibe for this weekend is mashup DJ extraordinaire Girl Talk who has been to the area a few times and each time keeps the party going. NYC outfit !!! (chk chk chk) will also be keeping the crowds dancing this year. If you are a fan of LCD Soundsystem, there is a great chance you will love this group. Buffalo based Aqueous, a staple on great Buffalo line-ups, but also getting bigger around the national and international circuit, will also be featured as one of this year’s headliners. There will also be a special new musical project coming to fruition this year from Mike Ganzter of Aqueous called Uncle Mike’s Random Company that features Mike and other members of bands such as Moe, Dopapod, and the band Tauk.
The festival, going into its ninth year, continues to source a plethora of its line up from the New York state area. 22 of 36 acts are from New York, with 20 of those from the Western New York area. That is something that we should take pride in when it comes to celebrating music in the region. Some local favorites on this years lineup include bands like Witty Tarbox who have a new album and release show in September in Buffalo – they will be playing two sets this year. Also look out for PA Line, and other local favorites like Funktional Flow, Space Junk, and Roots Collider.
Night Lights prides itself on being super atmospheric, and welcomes all walks of life including kids – although it is oriented more towards “Big Kids” in a sense. Kids 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Another fun activity to prepare for is “Theme Nights”. This year’s themes include an Ultimate Costume Party on Friday night and a R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. Dance Party on Saturday. If you are also looking for some down time during the festival there’s a dedicated camping area, as well as a mini beach to relax on with a lake to swim in. If you’re in the mood for a good, local beer, there will be a local beer exchange taking place on Friday (please, no glass at the festival).
Once the sun goes down, Night Lights becomes an experience for the Mind, Body, and Soul. The emphasis that this festival puts on decorations and lighting up the forest, with different types of installations, makes this a one of a kind experience for the area. One of the many artists contributing to this year’s event is Buffalo’s own Mark Madden of Madd Ink. He will be live painting as part of the Drum Circle area, which will go into the wee hours of the morning. There is also an area within the festival called The Sanctuary Project – a harm reduction area where all festival attendees are welcomed. “We are a safe place, with volunteers that are trained in giving compassionate care to those having difficult psychedelic and or emotional experience,” says Esmay Kim, a core-founding member who helps run the project.
The best way to come to Night Lights is with an open mind and open heart, as well as an empty stomach. Word is that they make a mean breakfast burrito, and have apple cider that is made right on the grounds of the festival. There are many more activities that this festival has to offer, but you will just have to experience them yourself. If you get the chance, pack up the car, grab some friends, and be prepared for an experience you will never forget!
Get Connected: nightlightsfest.com
All photos by Zachary Todtenhagen