Review: Binghamtronica Music and Arts Festival

Solaris steals the show at 3rd annual festival

March 24th, 2012

The electronic dance music scene thrived at SUNY Binghamton for third straight year, with the growing experience of the Binghamtronica Music and Arts Festival. Developed by Greg Sarafan and featuring acts including Archnemesis, Boombox, Horizon Wireless and Binghamton’s own Solaris, eight hours of grinding beats and intertwined bodies were found throughout the student union. Sarafan felt that the event “went really well, everyone had a great time and the night went off without a incident,” which, after being at the event for five hours, can be easily encored.

Growing from the last year, the art inside was more widespread, with live painters and dancers, as well as an impressive décor. There was a great stage backdrop with arrows akin to ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ which were illuminated at times from a apropos light show. The active crowd, shifting to every bass thump and Voyager-esque drum beat, amidst a thick fog of fog and smoke, was rarely satiated, as college kids are wan to be. A young crowd with a slight tilt towards a majority of college girls, was gathered inside and out and security avoidant of interfering with the good time all were having. The young ragers in the crowd were respectful of the music and for the most part, here to dance. Throughout the night, roughly 400 entered the doors to the main room, amidst a cloud of smoke that set an inclusive club feel for the entire night, getting thicker as the evening progressed.

Among the bands were Solaris, Horizon Wireless, Boombox and Archnemesis, all phenomenal electronic bands of varying ilks and sub-genres. For me, the highlight of the night was Solaris, a trio from Binghamton who are on the rise in Upstate New York. Featuring Jared Raphel on keys, Vince Naro on bass and Daniel Scott Lyons on drums, less than 15 minutes into their set were applying thick buttery beats and igniting the crowd. The music was simply intense and could wake Lazarus. I could easily say they are like The Disco Biscuits, due to their intense, tight jamming and transitions, but that would be an understatement. For 90 minutes, Solaris ventured through Not Waiting Long,
Garage Band jam -> Smalls, Polar and THEM, all instrumental and each moving the crowd into a faster and growing frenzy. The crowd was enthralled, to say the least, gritty like organic peanut butter, pre-mix style.

A benefit to the event being held on a college campus is the ability to enjoy the aura of college life, including a chance to play billiards or go bowling while listening to music. Going late into the night, all that was needed at this show was a reliable location for food and drink nearby but that withstanding, I found the trip southwest for Binghamtronica to be ideal and a diamond in the rough for their small but alive music scene.

As the festival grows, so will the audience, Sarafan hopes to make the event more dynamic, keep it student-centric and planning soon for the fourth installment with bigger bands, longer sets and more vending opportunities. It will be good to see an event of this caliber continue to grow and bring great bands to the Southern Tier of New York State.

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About Pete Mason
Pete Mason is a teacher and writer living in Albany, NY with his dog Halley. He has written PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish, a compilation of art made by Phish fans, co-authored PhanFood, a cookbook of recipes by and for Phish fans, and is currently working on a book on music festivals, and a book on war films, The Evolution of the War Film Genre. He maintains the website PhanArt.net, compiling the art made by fans, inspired by Phish. He is the Editor-in-Chief of UpstateLIVE and has written for Huffington Post, Hidden Track, Honest Tune, HeadCount, and Nippertown.

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