The Borderland Festival of Music and the Arts is designed as a two-day event built around a community atmosphere that emphasizes a relaxed, informal atmosphere over the ongoing intensity of many major festivals across the country.
The atmosphere permeated the second day of the festival on Sunday.
Since it debuted in 2018, Borderland has been pretty chill. The stunning location, in the massive Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora, lends itself to this vibe. There is plenty of room to spread out, the staff are plentiful and fun, and the amenities aplenty. The dominant air of awareness of sustainability and caring for the natural beauty of the garden give this feeling of escape from the hustle and bustle for a more rustic and accessible reality.
Then there is the music.
Borderland creator and East Aurora native Jennifer Brasil cut her teeth by working for the jam band and bluegrass outlets for the music business, and she’s bringing this experience to an impact on Borderland. However, over the past five years, the festival has spread its wings, expanding to include modern indie and alternative music, and this year it’s welcoming jazz, funk, R&B, and soul to the party.
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On Sunday, a main stage and a local stage spread throughout the field and stables at Knox Farm State Park hosting a beautifully curated mix of bands and artists from both local and national diversity. The main stage sat ready to host the frontrunner Flaming Lips late on Sunday night.
By the time Buffalo Power-Sol Miller and the other sinners reached the main stage at noon, the crowd — made up of the remainder of the Saturday festival, which included a top performance from Portugal — was on. The man, as well as those present for a day, committed to getting rid of the cobwebs the previous evening and letting the music do what it wanted. This meant dancing in front of the stage, probably before many of those gathered had their first cup of coffee of the day.
Bluegrass + Bloody Marys with A Girl Named Genny helped fans unwind the day at the local stage before Jam quintet Dogs in Delaware began its second day in high gear on the main stage. The young band was already well known to Buffalo fans after a well-received group at Buffalo Iron Works earlier this year. On Sundays tight, exploratory and engaging music played over an hour of music backed by dynamic interaction and – no other way to say it – killer jams and improvisations.
Spafford followed him up with an equally impressive group, blending a cool ’70s vibe with some smoldering Phish-land forays, particularly in the guitar department.
On the local stage, a large crowd was energized by the quiet people and country of stove-tops. Throughout it all, patrons toured the vendors’ village inside Knox Farm’s stables, indulged in handcrafted food and drinks, and prepared for the rest of the evening, which was scheduled to include groups of Walter Kemp 3, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, The Infamous Stringdusters and Critt’s Juke Joint And the Flaming Lips, whose large collection of theatrical props can be seen assembled on the main stage all day, are like a distant early symbol of good times to come.
Borderland 2022 has come a long way toward establishing this regional festival’s burgeoning reputation as one of the best seasonal gatherings in the Northeast.