We know it’s been a couple of weeks since the F.O.L.D festival, but we don’t think anyone is going to mind revisiting the show in anticipation of upcoming tour dates! Thanks to our special correspondents “on the scene”, we’re able to bring readers a taste of these amazing shows! -R
By Michelle Duran (Daily Duranie Contributor)
I hate festivals. I hate shortened set lists, I hate being surrounded by fans of other bands who only know ‘Hungry Like a Wolf’ (grrr!!!), I hate sitting through sets of artists I don’t like, and I absolutely hate port-a-potties. This isn’t just my mantra but that of many other Duran Duran fans I know. Add to it the horrific New York – Long Island summer commuter traffic and why would any of us want to go to the Martha Clara Vineyard in Riverhead, Long Island for the two day F.O.L.D. (Freak Out Let’s Dance) Festival?
For starters, this wasn’t just any music festival. Organized by Duran Duran’s self- proclaimed big brother, and musical genius extraordinaire, Nile Rodgers, he promised it would be something special and it most certainly was. This was THE ONE, Duranies, the one that made the lack of indoor plumbing and the possibility of traffic congestion all worthwhile.
My friends and I opted for general admission tickets for Day 2, the day the band was to play. Parking lots were to open at 4 pm and the venue at 5 pm with the show beginning at 6 pm. Due to the winery being in a residential area, there was an 11 pm curfew, meaning that the concert would be no more than five hours. I’ve endured twelve plus hour music festivals in the blazing summer sun before so five hours in the evening at a winery sounded pretty good. While we were enroute to the winery, a friend messaged us that the lots opened early. What followed was a series of sharp corners and possibly illegal U-turns when I drove past the entrance for the parking lots not once, but three times. Finally, we made it, parked our car and were ready to queue. There were about twenty people in front of us, including several Duranies. The line was sheltered by tall shrubs along the vineyard, so not only was it a beautiful place to wait but it was also shaded and relatively comfortable. The festival staff, dressed in black shirts and shorts, presided everywhere. All were polite and professional. The stage was only about fifty feet from the entrance and we arrived to hear the incomparable Chaka Khan warming up, which was amazing. After she finished, we were treated to something even better- Duran Duran’s sound check. Thanks to Twitter posts by the band, we confirmed what our ears already knew, Janelle Monae and Nile were with them running through Pressure Off several times. In addition, we heard snippets of Notorious, and Wild Boys. Try as we might, we couldn’t see the stage from where we were standing. However, we heard a crowd cheering and found out that VIP ticketholders were allowed in front of the stage to watch the sound-check. In true Duran fashion, the sound-check ran late and they were still on stage when the gates were supposed to open at 5 pm. By this time the line snaked down quite a distance. The only complaints I heard were from a few older fans of some of the other acts. The rest of us know Durantime is always in effect and took it in stride. At 5:15, some of the staff came through the queue to apologize and hand out free bottles of water to those waiting, which was a nice touch.
Gates finally opened a few minutes later and we were in. Thanks to a tip from a friendly photographer (heyjoe.nyc) we’d met at breakfast, we knew the right side of the stage was only for VIP. My friends and I bee-lined for the left side of the stage and found spots directly in front of where John would be, with only the photo pit separating us from the stage. The crowd itself was a mix of older fans of Nile, Chaka Khan, and the other “old school” performers; Duranies; music loving locals from the area; and a few younger fans there for the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) acts. Due to the selection of performers, I think the crowd was older than the usual age at a music festival of this nature.
After a few minutes, the music started with international celebrity DJ, Greg Cerrone, who fit F.O.L.D. Festival between gigs in St. Barth’s and Saint Tropez. The crowd was fairly small at this point, fewer than one thousand, but his enthusiastic attitude never waned. I have to admit, EDM is not my thing. I may think I’m still twenty five but EDM proves I’m not. The heavy electronic bass pounding through my body and trying to take control of my heart isn’t something I enjoy, especially when I’m right in front of the speakers. However, there were plenty of people in the crowd enjoying the show as a slew of DJ acts such as Slander, Lea Luna, and Ultra Naté all took turns on the main stage. Later, drag queen Ginger Minj, best known from RuPaul’s Drag Race, performed; interacting with the crowd in a set that was a mixture of standup comedy and singing.
Finally, the EDM portion of the evening ended and Old School arrived as Grandmaster Melle Mel accompanied by DJ Prince Paul took over. For the next thirty minutes, we were all raising our hands in the air and waving them like we just didn’t care- Oh yeah! Melle Mel reminded us all of where Hip Hop and Rap began, performing the Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five version of White Lines, The Message and then leading the audience in a medley of some of the best known Old School rap. Once his set finished, the DJ table was removed and it was time to move to the next portion of the evening.
While the stage was readied for Nile Rodgers and Chic, a youth dance troupe from Oakland, California, Destiny Arts, entertained the crowd with a high energy hip hop performance. This non-profit group combats inner city violence through programs in dance and martial arts. Nile personally introduced them. In fact, throughout the night, Nile had been on stage, cheering on the various performers and even taking pictures. F.O.L.D. Festival was definitely a well-recorded event. In addition to a cadre of professional photographers and videographers, a drone hovered above the crowd and a 360 degree camera captured every moment from every angle. In addition to heyjoe.nyc, also check out Jennifer Sheppard’s blog here.
Shortly before 8 pm, Nile Rodgers and Chic, currently comprised of singers Folami, Kim Davis, and musicians Ralph Rolle on drums, Jerry Barnes on bass, Bill Holloman on sax, Don Harris on trumpet, and Russell Graham and Richard Hilton on keyboards, began their set. Like many fans of Duran Duran, I consider Nile to be an icon. Aside from the actual members of Duran, there is no one else more responsible for their sound, first as an influence when they were teens in Birmingham listening to Chic, then later as a mentor, producer and co-writer on everything from The Reflex, Wild Boys, Notorious, Astronaut and right up to their new single, Pressure Off. Nile had injured his knee the previous night so he apologized for not being able to dance around the stage and for wearing a tee and jeans with his signature beret, instead of his customary suit. Regardless, getting to finally see Nile Rodgers playing his signature Stratocaster, the Hitmaker, live with Chic was incredible. Tight doesn’t even begin to describe them- their sound, their look, their moves are all well practiced and well executed. Everyone is in black and white with the singers, Folami and Kim Davis in matching print jumpsuits that recall the glamour of disco fashions. Launching into Dance, Dance, Dance, the band wowed the crowd as they played hit after hit, not only from Chic but other songs Nile has written such as Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out and Upside Down and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. Nile teased us you’re all about to go crazy as he began playing Let’s Dance, which he wrote for one of Duran Duran’s other major influences, David Bowie.
Nile next introduced Janelle Monae, referring to her as his little sister while praising her talent and hard work. If you’re not familiar with Monae, watch a few videos of her live performances and you’ll understand why she has earned such high acclaim from Nile Rodgers. Also dressed in black and white, the diminutive Monae, who will be thirty this year, could easily pass for someone half her age. However, she’s a powerful, dynamic performer, singing and dancing with intensity and skill. Performing with Chic as her backing band, along with her own charismatic guitarist, Kellindo Parker, Janelle Monae gave her all as she ran through her 4 song set, which included Q.U.E.E.N, Electric Lady, a cover of James Brown’s I Feel Good, complete with the requisite cape, and finished with Tightrope.
As with Janelle Monae, Chaka Khan used Chic as her backing band and supplemented with her own guitarist. Dressed all in black, she looked ageless with her trademark hair and beautiful smile as she sang four songs: I Feel for You, Sweetest Thing, I’m Every Woman, and Ain’t Nobody. Unfortunately, Melle Mel had to leave right after his set so he wasn’t there to perform his “Let me love you Chaka Khan” rap during I Feel for You. Duran fans were also well aware that this meant he wouldn’t be there for a possible guest appearance with Duran Duran during White Lines.
After Chaka Khan finished her set, the Destiny Arts dancers and a number of family and friends joined the band on stage. After a moving speech by Nile about his aggressive cancer diagnosis and ultimate recovery, Chic played a rousing finale of Good Times. Nile even rapped part of the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers’ Delight, which famously sampled Good Times, bringing it all full circle and again emphasizing Nile’s influence on artists across many genres of music. Throughout the night, you could really sense the camaraderie not only between Nile Rodgers and the other performers but the crew and staff as well. Everyone working the show seemed truly happy to be there.
Once Good Times finished, the stage cleared and the DJ table was brought back for Chuck D. from Public Enemy. Chuck D was originally scheduled to perform on the first night but couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts. He began his set by telling us we had “twenty nine minutes to Duran Duran.” With Nile again staying on stage and lending his support, Chuck D, backed by another Public Enemy founding member, DJ Keith Shocklee, led the crowd through some of the rap group’s biggest hits including Fight the Power as well as songs from their just released album, Man Plans God Laughs. Chuck D rapped almost non-stop during his set, only stopping to tell the crowd how many more minutes to Duran Duran or to express his respect and admiration for Nile. As promised, he finished his set in just under thirty minutes and it was time for Duran Duran to perform.
Nile once again introduced the band, recalling how they met back in the early 80’s, and their long association with each other. Simon called the introduction the best they’d ever had before launching into an energetic performance of Wild Boys. The band looked and sounded fantastic. Simon, looking slim in white jeans and a black and white leather jacket, launched right into A View to a Kill as Nile Rodgers stood on the side of the stage clearly enjoying the set as the crowd, now at an estimated twenty-five hundred, sang along.
The next song on the roster was Girl Panic, which cause a minor panic of its own because up until this point, we had expected nothing more than the same five song set as all the other performers had given, especially with the time constraint of an 11 pm curfew. Therefore, we expected the Nile songs- Wild Boys, AVTAK, Notorious, Pressure Off, and The Reflex. Girl Panic was quickly followed by All You Need Is Now and then Come Undone. We were getting a full set. F.O.L.D. Festival was suddenly even a better decision.
Following the AYNIN selections, the band rolled out three fan favorites, Is There Something I Should Know and The Chauffeur and Ordinary World. It’s been exactly three years since the AYNIN tour ended abruptly with Nick’s illness in August, 2012 so it was fantastic to once again hear these live. The crowd, which wasn’t as familiar with the newer songs, was also thrilled to be back in familiar territory.
After OW, Nile walked back onto center stage as Simon announced “There’s one reason-one really big reason why we’re standing in front of you guys tonight…. And his name is Nile Rodgers.” Simon went on to describe the band’s reaction when they first heard The Original Sin by INXS, which was also produced by Nile Rodgers. They sent The Reflex to Nile and we know the rest. Simon finished by telling Nile “I love you, you are my brother” and hugged him, while every Duranie in the house raced to capture this Kodak moment. They then launched into the song Simon describes as the complete “intertwangling of Nile Rodgers and Duran Duran”: Notorious. Nile went right over to JT and fans were treated to Nile and John playing together as Simon led the crowd.
Simon reintroduced Janelle Monae, describing her as a firecracker, as she returned to the stage and it was time for the premiere of Pressure Off. The chemistry between them was fantastic. Janelle’s high energy invigorated everyone and even Nile’s injured knee couldn’t stop him from dancing along as they played.
After once again thanking Nile and Janelle, the band continued playing, pushing well past the curfew as they played set list staples Planet Earth, HLTW, and Sunrise. Finally, they said good night but were soon back on stage for their signature closing song, Rio. Hearing it is always bittersweet since we know this is really the end. The band thanked the crowd and the first F.O.L.D. Festival was officially in the history books. Interestingly, the song many most associate with the relationship between Nile and Duran Duran, The Reflex, wasn’t on the set list. I thought this was an odd decision since the song has so much history. Also, the band once again didn’t play GOF and there were no band intros. They skipped the intro again the next night at Musikfest and I’m told it was also skipped at the Capitol Theater shows. It’s hard to imagine that they won’t add the intros back in for the main Paper Gods tour when it begins unless they’re looking to purposefully change their show ending.
Overall it was fantastic to finally be back in my favorite place on Planet Earth, front row at a Duran Duran concert. My expectations for F.O.L.D. Festival were more than exceeded. Nile Rodgers has already committed to bringing the festival back to Riverhead next year as a three day long weekend event, promising to bring back many of the acts that performed this time and grow the festival so that it’s one of the premiere destination events like Coachella. Only time will tell, but if anyone can do it, it’s Nile Rodgers.
A View To A Kill
All You Need Is Now
Is There Something I Should Know?
Hungry Like The Wolf
Reach Up For The Sunrise