Hey Otis!

Usually I spend my weekend's hiking, climbing, or generally outside enjoying the Adirondacks. So when I got my tickets Otis Mountain's 5th Annual Get Down, I knew I was in for a treat! Camping, great food, AND live music ... in the Adirondacks?! How could I pass that up?!

Tim Behuniak

Usually I spend my weekend's hiking, climbing, or generally outside enjoying the Adirondacks. And I always listen to music in the car on my way to new adventures. So when I got my tickets Otis Mountain's 5th Annual Get Down, I knew I was in for a treat! Camping, great food, AND live music ... in the Adirondacks?! How could I pass that up?! Disclaimer: this was my first music festival experience.

After classes ended on Friday, I arrived at the old ski hill in Elizabethtown - the venue's location – with a group of friends. College students, younger couples, and families poured out of their cars, unloading camping gear and food for the weekend-long music fest. As we hiked the hill, tractors ferried crowds to the entrance and mountain bikers zipped by. My friends and I set up camp in Tent City, and ran to catch Upstate Rubdown at Center Stage.

Mountain biking through camp
Mountain biking through camp

Their song, Old Advice - a fan favorite - exploded off the stage! People of all ages erupted in cheers as soon as the first note sounded. The band threw Kazoos to the crowd to play along with them, and we cheerfully joined in. Upstate Rubdown had everyone hooked until the last song ended.
We drifted back to camp for dinner and relaxation before the next scheduled band. Immediately after eating, we heard music break the air from a nearby, makeshift stage in the woods. The Wormdogs were playing at an unscheduled time! Unexpected live performances are a common occurrence at Otis.
After listening to the energetic and exciting band, we caught Landlady at Spruce Stage. The crowd swayed, danced and cheered during and after each song. At one point it became extremely enthusiastic and a mosh pit formed. It was nice to watch as the lead singer stopped after the song to reinforce to the crowd that Otis was a family event, and mosh pits belong in the back so others can enjoy the music in the front.

LuxDeluxe played at center stage next! They were extremely energetic, and enthusiastic. The lead singer wore a red onesie with a white suit jacket, which he tore off pretty quick. Bubbles flew through the air as the crowd danced and laughed the night away. It was an atmosphere unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

Band jamming out with crowd
Band jamming out with crowd

Friday night was filled with high energy as we ran toward Spruce Stage to listen to Le Grotto immediately after LuxDeluxe ended. Le Grotto was a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd dancing so hard I thought I felt the ground shake, especially during Waves. We ended the night talking with other campers around a campfire, anticipating the next full day of music. That's what makes Otis so special. The community it brings together and the friendships you find.

Saturday was for sleeping. We relaxed by our tent in the morning as some friends headed to the trails to enjoy Otis' mountain biking. There are trails everywhere and it adds another unique element to the festival. While hanging out by the tents, we again heard music drifting through the air, again at an unscheduled time.

Jake Klar strummed soft tunes on the makeshift stage near the campsite. With a soulful voice as soft as butter and at times roaring like thunder, Klar has performed at Otis for three consecutive years. He's is not only a musician, but a visual artist as well, (he arrived at the mountain early to help set up the art hanging around the festival).

Pop-up concert
Pop-up concert

Following Klar, another unscheduled performance popped up! Are you sensing a theme here? It's so awesome! Spontaneity is common at Otis. This time, Upstate Rubdown played at The Range. However, rather than stand onstage and sing down to everyone, the band stood in the middle of the crowd, with the audience circling around them. Their upbeat songs and attitude truly woke everyone up and started the day's dancing.

Throughout the day, we were fortunate enough to hear acts like Reba, Liz Cooper, Damn Tall Buildings, The Overcoats, The Wormdogs, Vundabar, and the Mystery Lights. It was difficult to choose which band to listen to, and when to eat dinner, and take a break from the music. Each performing artist completely captivated the crowd. No one left a stage disappointed.

Playing those sweet tunes
Playing those sweet tunes

When we weren't listening to music, we were hammocking on the hill in front of Center Stage, enjoying the art hanging around Otis, painting, eating delicious, farm-fresh food and slacklining. I'm incredibly happy that Otis was my first music festival. The overall attitude of the weekend was positive and welcoming for all ages.

"Otis is special because it brings people together and gives musicians a place to play new songs and acts as a platform for people to hear new music," said Jake Klar. "A subtle aspect is that there is no cell service, so everyone is forced to experience undistracted moments and create authentic relationships."


About the Author …
Tim Behuniak
Timothy Behuniak is an outdoor enthusiast, and when not swimming, kayaking or fishing on any of the beautiful lakes in the Adirondacks, you can find him on the summit of a mountain. Follow him on instagram @timbehuniak or timothybehuniak.com.
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