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LarkFest 2k11 recap

Another Fall in Albany, (cue the word merger — “FAlbany”) brings yet another Lark Fest to a close. This year, the 30th anniversary reflected more than anything Albany’s constant growth as a community. I started the day just like any other on Lark, with a coffee and a bagel, yet through a seamless transition, ended with a solid buzz and pockets full of merchandise.


photos © Taylor Merrihew

The two stages, one at Madison Ave. and the other at Washington Ave, bumped competing, yet not combative music all day, usually of different genres, so that if you weren’t feelin’ the tunes at one stage you could bounce to the other one and on your way pick up some overpriced, inflated corner-store beer, potentially laugh at the paradigm of the Silent Disco ravers going so subtly hard or even bop your head to the Dirty grooves being flung from the back of a packed Ben and Jerry’s.

At one point the cobblestones became a public listening party. A dude with a ghetto-blaster and an affinity for John Cusak in Say Anything was all smiles as he bumped hardly audible fist-pumping tunes to a crowd of his bros. And if you traveled back and forth numerous times like I did, you are first and most likely icing your calve’s and hamstrings today, and secondly wondering why Lark Street isn’t closed to automobile traffic more often.

The gauntlet of white vending tents reminded me of the market in Aladdin, and the constant food aromas only solidified the eclectic illusion more. Even some local artists got into the mix trying to make some paper, by selling prints and printed tees like they were the new Silly Bands. Nearly everyone was rockin’ or had just copped a fresh shirt. I myself had my heart set on a burgundy Wolf t-shirt, the juxtaposition of the howling wolf in front of the American Flag brought tears to my eyes. I proceeded to get too embarrassed and walked away, tears filling up the space behind my sunglasses. Other vendors included necklaces, bracelets, dream catchers, and many other handmade goods and wares, but clothes were the main product in nearly every booth.

Arts and crafts were occasionally seen, but in my opinion Lark Street being a hub for art and artists alike on any other day or the year, was very “light” on the art, much like the punctured and crumpled Keystone and Miller cans everywhere. At one point a friend was struck by the awe-inspiring faint multi-colored paint drips from the roof on the wrap-around section of 5 Central Ave, and wondered where the art scene was.

I have never seen more relaxed cops, but I guess if you make it through Kegs N’ Eggs of the last years and still have your job you can do pretty much whatever you like, right? Right…but in all reality they were there but just trying to keep people safe and smart. They handled the at times, overzealous and generally inebriated crowd with ease and only until they mounted their horses did they display any sort of power, not in excess but only for the purpose of clearing the street.

Not an hour after the last paper plate or plastic cup, or brown paper bag was dropped and abandoned on the abused street, the asshole traffic was up and running again without fail. Kudos to the cleaning crew-the unknown-whom, I hope were able to enjoy the day before the mess. Kudos to all the bands, you rocked, even you three guys that were rather rude and condescending to a carefree question, you know who you are…or maybe you don’t. Reality is the latter.

More than anything 30 years of this day festival proves Albany has the ability to set aside egos, opinions, and disagreements in order to happily frolic on Lark Street amongst friends and associates. Within the past few years it has emerged as a secure stepping stone for local entrepreneurs and artisans alike. One can only hope that it continues to expand and explore new types of attractions.

I can’t remember how many new people I met, “Sorry.” And those of you that said Hi, “Hey! Nice to see you too. Call me. Maybe I’ll see you at PearlPalooza next weekend?”

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