Sustain-Release is one for those in the know and that’s largely due to its low-key, anti-commercial approach. Amongst a packed circuit of summer events, this US-based techno camp sees an impeccable line-up consistently bring their A-game.
Chosen for: Innovation and Preserving Culture.
Describing themselves as an “adventurous music weekend in upstate New York featuring shared cabins for all participants, heated pools, a lake, bonfire and forward-thinking music across two stages,” Sustain-Release is an off-grid selection that draws a tapped-in audience year on year. The annual event takes place at Camp Kennybrook, a two-and-a-half hour’s drive from New York City. 2023 is set to mark its ninth edition, and in keeping with the festival’s low-key ethos, details on the website are scarce. Rather, information will be announced in June via a mailing list.
This secretive approach is what makes the festival a subtle standout. Swerving the mechanics of marketing growth, you can’t simply buy a ticket, you must be a member in order to attend – or a guest of a member. While the event receives some press each year – select publications cover the line-up announcements – this is kept to a minimum. The organisers have also confirmed that this is a deliberate tactic, stating on their website that they’d prefer to “go under-the-radar with minimal press”. By avoiding mass market appeal, a tight-knit community attends each edition and the festival grows organically.
This anti-commercial approach creates a headsier feel to the event, and consistently brings out the best in the artists on the line-up as a result. Similar to events like Freerotation, the stakes feel higher when met with a smaller audience of tapped-in music fans . Sets are made up of forward-thinking selections, unswayed by mass interest, and artists often dive into deeper journeys with the audience.
On the ground, the festival’s makeup shows in the small details too. Guests bunk together in cabins with shared facilities, set times are printed on photocopied handouts alongside hand-drawn maps of the site. This analogue feel ensures the festival doesn’t have a large digital footprint during the event.
Talk of Sustain-Release usually revolves around its unique atmosphere and the sets. In the past, line-ups have featured the likes of Helena Hauff – who played in 2017, just before her meteoric rise – DJ Fart in the Club, Juliana Huxtable and Priori. The programme usually leans towards local US artists, but mainly champions the most current, exciting names setting the international circuit on fire.
Sustain-Release takes place in Camp Kennybrook, Monticello, on14-17 September 2023.