Shining (some more) on Night Lights Music Festival

Category:  BloggERy
Thursday, August 25th, 2016 at 5:06 PM
Shining (some more) on Night Lights Music Festival by Ryan Smith
Photo 2015 by Ryan Smith

With the 2016 Night Lights Music Festival under way as of, well, now, I figured it'd be some good fun, as part of our continuing coverage, to take a few minutes out of the busy schedules of some of the very-awesome festival's organizers and performers for a little Q-and-A action.

First, I caught up with Scott Molloy, who, as a founder, organizer, and musician in Lazlo Hollyfeld, has been with Night Lights from the start. Now, it's time to hear from Ethan Pieper and Sam Edwards, members of Edinboro-based jam/fusion soundscapers GNOSiS.

Here's what they had to say:

Ryan Smith: Thanks again for taking a minute for us. Start off by telling us a bit about the sonic terrain you guys are exploring these days.
Ethan Pieper: We've really been pushing ourselves be a bit more exploratory in the improvised aspects of our music. That's led to a lot more "livetronica" and ambience in our sound. We still hit the prog rock and fusion spots too, but we've really begun to vary our sound a bit more during a set.
Sam Edwards: I agree. We've been pushing the improvised aspect a bit more. In an hour set, for example, we might only play five total songs. On an album, those songs may be five or six minutes long, but we open them up somewhere along the way and try to explore different variations of how we're feeling that day and how the crowd is feeling. We're also talking about heading into the 'midi sync' territory, meaning we can synchronize our synths and drum machines to a click, and utilizing more live electronic sounds in time with what we're playing.  
RS: On that note, give me five bands you've been listening to a whole lot lately.
SE: I'm always changing who I listen to, but have some favorites I'll always come back to. I'd say my recents are The Dear Hunter, Opeth, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Tauk, and Mutemath.
EP: It's hard to choose just five! {But] Elephant Wrecking Ball, Marbin, Dopapod, S U R V I V E, [and] Umphreys McGee.

RS: So, how about that Night Lights? I'm asking all the longtime/return musicians I'm talking with to sorta describe its all-around vibe. So...

EP: I was really only able to be there for the Thursday pre-party that we played, but even then, with an intimate setting like that back in the illuminated woods, I was blown away by how energetic and fun the crowd was so early on. People just wanted to have fun and get away for the weekend! You can definitely do that at Night Lights. The entirety of the festival grounds feel like a whole other world!
SE: Very positive vibes. Some fests have that feeling of "Oh, I'm here just to get wriggidy wrecked" -- for any R&M fans -- but Night Lights seems like it's a lot more than just that. Being somewhat local, you can show up and you'll see a lot of friendly, familiar faces, a lot of which are also musicians we play with all the time, and everybody is so into seeing all the music that they can and enjoy it. Plus, the fact that they turn the woods into a mini Electric Forest is pretty awesome. Not many places around here do that.

RS: You're up there, taking it way out, and the crowd's just melting into it. That happens -- a lot -- where you're at. So, what are the musicians giving -- and what are you taking away for yourselves -- in those moments?

EP: Playing music for a crowd -- no matter how big or small it is -- is the greatest rush on the planet. We have the opportunity to take people's minds off of whatever is going on outside of that moment, and that's a pretty special opportunity. Personally, I get so amped up when I see people dancing and having a good time, and it pushes me to play better. We feed off of the crowd, and they feed off of us. It's a wild experience, and most people don't get to experience that. So, I can thank anyone who has danced, jumped, sang, grooved. At our shows for giving me a one of a kind experience every time I play.
SE: Couldn't have said it better myself. The opportunity to share the music we're creating on the spot and see it affect other people the same -- or in a completely different -- way it affects us is an awesome feeling. We all have stresses in our everyday lives, and shows can be an escape, a healing process, or many other things that positively effect you as a person. I know I've been to shows that, afterwards, made me feel inspired and better about something bad that may have happened earlier that day.
RS: Right on, gentleman. Anything else you'd like to add?

SE: Surround yourself with music, and support your locals! Events like Night Lights are an amazing opportunity for personal growth, however you want to take that. For me, personally, I'll be not only performing on Saturday with GNOSiS, but I'll be exercising my live sound practices with running The Public Stage in the woods. I'm pumped to be able to experience both sides of music and production in one, fun-filled weekend -- it feels great.
EP: Having live music events like Night Lights around us during the summer is so awesome. Having a great escape with friends and good music is something you can't really put a price on, and it's something that we're really fortunate to be a part of. We have to do our best to stay safe and tidy during these events so we can continue to have them in the future!
This year's Night Lights Music Festival runs through Saturday, Aug. 27 at the beautiful Great Blue Heron festival grounds, 2361 Wait Corners Road, Panama, NY.

For tickets, directions, lineups, schedules, and more info, visit

Ryan Smith can be reached at, and you can follow him on Twitter @ryanmsmithplens.

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