The landscape of the world of music festivals is always volatile, especially in recent years. In a time where many festivals are unable to continue functioning and some have been forced to drop their curtains for good, the Cayuga Sound Festival—which will be held for the first time this year just a few hours away in upstate New York—is aiming to overcome this hurdle and emerge as a safe and sturdy outdoor weekend.
The festival is the brainchild of rock band X Ambassadors, who call the festival’s host city of Ithaca, NY their home. Before hitting it big with singles like “Jungle” and “Renegades,” X Ambassadors were just a small band from Ithaca, eventually moving to NYC for school and playing in small Brooklyn dive bars.
After their blow-up in 2015, the X Ambassadors were invited to play alongside The Roots in 2016 at the first ever NYC iteration of the legendary hip-hop crew’s “Roots Picnic,” which was held in Bryant Park. After that positive experience, and with much of their own festival—which would eventually become Cayuga Sound—in the works, X Ambassadors asked Questlove, Black Thought, and the rest of the crew to return the favor and join the lineup of their festival as co-headliners, a request that The Roots gladly accepted.
The rest of the festival’s lineup is exceptional: Margaret Glaspy is a standout booking for me; her brand of indie/folk rock has always felt fresh and is a wonderful inclusion on the lineup. K.Flay, The Knocks, and Tei Shi are also a handful of the exciting acts included on this diverse and expansive lineup. Rapper Sammus, who produces her own beats and raps over them with immense precision, is also included lower on the lineup’s bill.
With so much constantly in flux in not only the music festival industry, but the live music industry at large, it can be an incredible relief to see a festival like Cayuga Sound attempt to make its mark in year one, hitting the ground running. A diverse lineup is important, and the festival itself, along with its bookers, clearly understand that. The recipe is there for a great weekend up in Ithaca, and—hopefully—sustainable and lasting festival success going forward.