Staying bright all night

In 10th year, Starscape fest keeps its electronica roots, branches out to hip-hop

June 05, 2008|By Ishita Singh | Ishita Singh,Sun Reporter

There aren't many chances to watch the sun rise over the Key Bridge after taking part in an all-night dance party on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. But that's what more than 4,000 electronica fans will be doing Saturday -- and Sunday morning -- at the 10th anniversary of the Starscape music festival.

"The whole vibe of it was just incredible," said Clay Parnell of New York-based dance band Biodiesel about playing in last year's show. "Starscape is just one of those festivals where I was still there when the last notes were playing at 6:15 and still partying, even though I had been there for like 14 hours. I just didn't want to leave the big party."

The festival, at Fort Armistead Park, kicks off at 2 p.m. and lasts until 6 a.m. More than 40 acts will play on five stages this year, with three stages set up on the beach.

There will also be a 40-foot graffiti wall and an art gallery displaying the work of local and regional artists. The VIP section has been revamped this year with a "Lost World" theme and boasts a lounge area, open bar and DJ.

The event once again has a strong and diverse lineup, which includes The Disco Biscuits, Biodiesel and Bassnectar, but coordinators have also brought in new entertainment to expand the event's scope: hip-hop legend Slick Rick, who will perform with an eight-piece live band. Bringing in a hip-hop act is new, though Slick Rick has performed in similar settings, and headlined the Camp Bisco festival last year in upstate New York.

"We wanted to keep it with Slick Rick and his live band because he's established in the scene," promoter Evan Weinstein said. "The live band is a lot different than a stage act, and there's a lot more to see."

The festival will feature a mix of live performances and DJs. As the dance music scene shifts to a blend of jam and electronica, Starscape is pushing itself to the forefront by bringing jam bands and electronic bands to the concert.

"We're really pleased with the lineup this year," Weinstein said. "We were really creative and found some bands on the cutting edge of dance or electronica music."

Weinstein noted that one of the festival's goals was to stay true to its underground music roots and not stray too far into other genres. In its 10 years, Starscape has become one of the premier electronica festivals, and bands are drawn to that.

"I think it'll be incredible," said Eric Adams of Segway, a jam band based in Baltimore. "It's one of those opportunities to be a part of a music scene that's really great in Baltimore, and as a band we get to get out there and play for new people, so I'm pretty excited about that."

This year's festival should be one of the biggest in Starscape's history, promoters said. The crowd is expected to range from 4,000 to 7,000 people, and organizers say they have received tons of positive feedback. In recent years, the number of attendees has grown significantly, and Weinstein expects that to continue.

"We've been on the upswing," he said. "Last year we set a record for attendance, and we're hoping to continue that trend."

As more fans flock to the festival each year, Starscape coordinators are working harder to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

"We're happy to be at this point," Weinstein added. "And I think we can go another 10 years and many more."

ishita.singh@baltsun.com

Starscape runs 2 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday at Fort Armistead Park, 3999 Fort Armistead Road. Tickets are $39.50-$49.50; $125 for VIP. Call 800-594-8499 or go to starscapefestival.com.

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