Fans from all over Long Island, New York City, Connecticut and even South Africa came for day two of the “Freak Out! Let’s Dance!” (FOLD) music festival Wednesday at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.
The eclectic mix of musicians, which included ’80s New Wave band Duran Duran, singer Janelle Monae and the Queen of Funk herself, Chaka Khan, drew a range of people from all generations.
Q-Tip was expected to play, but was a no-show. And Chuck D, who was expected to play on Tuesday but did not attend the concert, performed on Wednesday instead.
Before taking the stage for a second time, FOLD Festival creator and Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers was still riding a high from the night before. There were no obvious signs of a leg injury he sustained after Tuesday night’s show, which included performances from Grammy Award winners Beck, Pharrell Williams and Keith Urban.
“Last night was probably one of the most extraordinary nights of my life,” Rodgers said. “I knew it had the potential to be cool, but I had no idea it would wind up being like that.”
Rodgers went on to rave about Keith Urban’s performance on Tuesday. The pair had a near ten-minute high intensity jam session while Urban sang “Somebody Like You.”
“We never even had a rehearsal with him, we had no idea what he was going to do. We knew the songs, but then he just went off and started improvising,” Rodgers said. “The whole band looked at me like what do we do? I said go with him, it was insane.”
Though the concerts brought high-energy performances and enthusiastic crowds, attendance was well below the anticipated 10,000 concert goers each night. About 3,300 attended Tuesday and about 2,500 concert goers turned out for Wednesday’s show.
Still, Rodgers was enthusiastic about next year’s performance.
“We’re going to make it three nights,” he said. “I probably overbooked artists, but I think big.”
Everybody had a favorite act they were looking forward to as they entered the festival.
It was a girl’s night out for Penny Marceto of Plainview, Chris Serversal of Ronkonkoma, Jackie Ward of Babylon, Melissa Brewerton of Bay Shore and Stacy Galina of Middle Island.
“We’re Duranies,” one of them exclaimed followed by fits of laughter.
“I’m curious to see Janelle Monae”, explained Zander Ferrera from South Africa. “The big acts of course, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Janelle.”
“I want to see DJ Journey, who’s one of the DJs for Chuck D, he’s really talented,” said Victor Organic of New York City. “So to see Chuck D come back and spin with him would be amazing.”
Before entering Martha Clara, concertgoers parked their cars on large grassy fields and then walked through the tasting room to pick up tickets, proceeding to a small wine tasting garden for VIP guests. Then everyone approached the sprawling field where the gigantic concert stage sat.
“This venue is unbelievable,” exclaimed Steve Madeia, a resident of Berlin, Connecticut. Madeia packed his kids into the car and took the ferry to Long Island specifically for the festival. “It’s my first trip to Long Island. When I heard of this I had to be here, I had to see Chaka Khan. But look at this, you’ve got these vineyards here.”
The night got off to a bang as Chic took the stage around 7 p.m. and never stopped playing. Performing one hit after another from “Dance, Dance, Dance” to “I Want Your Love,” Rodgers commanded the stage as a performer and Master of Ceremonies. He led the band through a slew of his songs with other artists including “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out,” both enormous hits he penned for Diana Ross.
The show seamlessly introduced Janelle Monae, who performed a number with Chic, before singing some of her own hits like “Electric Lady” and “Tightrope.” Her session included a rousing version of James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good),” that was a huge hit with the crowd.
From there the one and only Chaka Khan commandeered the stage, opening with her 1980s tune “I Feel for You.” Khan was upbeat and clearly enjoyed flirting with the crowd as she belted out several of her other hits, including “I’m Every Woman.”
After Khan, Chic reclaimed the stage and Rodgers got personal as he discussed being diagnosed with cancer 4 1/2 years ago.
“The doctor told me to go home and get my affairs in order, well I’m a musician and getting my affairs in order means going out and playing more music and writing more songs, because we cannot determine the future,” he said. Rodgers wrapped it up by saying he was now cancer free to rousing cheers and applause from the audience.
Chic went on to perform several more of their hits like “Le Freak,” before finally ending with “Good Times.” The band invited friends, family members and even Martha Clara employees to come up on stage to sing along. Even Chuck D came out and joined the sing along, before the stage was handed over to him and he performed several of his hits, including “Don’t Believe the Hype.”
The stage cleared in anticipation for Duran Duran. Smoke machines worked furiously, creating an onstage mist, as the 1980s icons took to the stage, accompanied by screams from the audience. Looking as if he had just stepped from a time machine, a fit and youthful-looking Simon le Bon immediately went into “Wild Boys,” accompanied by John Taylor and Dom Brown on guitar and Nick Rhodes on keyboard.
The band performed hit after hit including “Come Undone,” “Notorious” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” as the audience sang along. The band also performed some new material, including their new single “Pressure Off,” which features Janelle Monae, who returned to the stage to perform with le Bon. The gigantic video screen behind them continuously streaming videos of beautiful women and exotic locales, a clear throwback to their MTV heyday. The group ended their nearly hour-long session with the mega hit, “Rio.”
Nile Rodgers closed out FOLD Festival 2015 by thanking his performers, crew, Martha Clara and the audience, promising bigger and better in 2016.
“This is our home,” he exclaimed triumphantly, as he raised his arms up over the vineyards.