Summer Camp Music Festival in Review Plus Photo Gallery
Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois from May 24th through May 26th was shaping up to look like an amazing festival. I entered in a contest called the Summer Camp Camp Counselor Contest for a chance to win free entry and a whole bunch of other goodies and I made top eight but didn’t advance past that in voting. So I already bought my ticket and figured what the hell, I’m going anyways. A week before the festival I got an email that asked me what late shows I wanted to see and my T-Shirt size because little did I know top eight gets two free V.I.P. passes along with two free cases of beer. Now Summer Camp started to look real nice.
The lineup was fantastic despite EDC going on in Chicago. That festival soaked up a few big acts but for the most part EDC Chicago had a great electronic lineup . . . for three years ago. Summer Camp was sporting Trey Anastasio, The Avett Brothers, Paper Diamond, Zeds Dead, STS9, and of course three days of Umphrey’s McGee and Moe. I heard people say, “Man that’s great because EDC will soak up the younger crowd coming from up north,” and then I thought, “That’s cool, but I wonder what the weather is going to be like?”
I had about seven or eight friends from Chicago, Carbondale, and Indianapolis meeting there for the pre-party on Thursday May 23rd. I made it there on wednesday night and hung out with many interesting people in the lot. Everyone else made it to the festival without a problem and setup camp on a beautiful Thursday. All of that hard work called for celebration. The brews got cracked, the friendly bantering had begun, and off we went to find entertainment.
I noticed many changes to the festival while aimlessly walking around. They put up legitimate wood fencing between the woods and the parking lot, consolidated the port-a-potties, and added carnival rides. I guess it takes a Ferris wheel to become officially festival certified these days and I’m not arguing because I loved the ambiance the rides gave off.
After setting up on Thursday we caught Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution. They marched up to the stage with horns, percussion, and whistles. They followed that act up with nothing but funk and soul. I would say out of all the bands I watched that weekend they won the award for congeniality. After that we caught the Roster McCabe show. These guys somehow managed to pull out a cover for Daft Punk’s new cut “Get Lucky” which came out less than two weeks ago. It was impressive. That night was capped off with a great set from Jaik Willis and members from Old Shoe, a group that Jaik dubbed “Long Sock.”
Friday was gorgeous. I caught The Wailers during the afternoon, hit up Yonder Mountain String Band, and then caught Umphrey’s McGee, Paper Diamond, more Umphrey’s, then STS9, and Big Gigantic. What a solid lineup for the afternoon, not to mention the scheduling was generous enough to not present any set conflicts so I literally got to see every single band I wanted to on Friday. That night my group managed to catch the sunrise, the last sunrise that we would see in a while, and also got our fill of the weirdness transpiring in the woods. As we walked around I heard hilarious little parts of conversations, occasionally stopping to watch the new LED lights posted in the forest rhythmically bathing the environment with light, when all of the sudden a tug of war broke out in the middle of shakedown street! I couldn’t wait for Saturday. I wonder what the weather will be like?
Rainy. Windy. Cold. Negativity? There wasn’t any to be found on that saturday. Everyone stayed in the zone and ready for what Mother Nature had in store, which was a lot. I am so thankful it stopped enough for me to see The Werks because it was the first opportunity I’ve had to see them. Things got worse after that and the weather drove me into the Vibe Tent and found Dopapod sound checking so I thought “Yeah I can stick around for these guys.” Glad I did because their funk-driven trance style along with the tent’s new light setup made for a captivating experience. The people demanded an encore, so I filmed it and you can watch the video below:
Did I mention that also with the free tickets from the contest I also got access to a late night show of choice? At Summer Camp Music Festival there is this great thing called late night shows in the “Red Barn” which is a small venue that can hold around 300 people and the reason it is so great is because it has become a platform for various artists to perform on stage together. This presents the opportunity to see incredibly rare sets and compilations. I chose to see STS9 and Big Gigantic with Griz and Gramatik. Dom from Big Gigantic hopped on stage for a few tracks with STS9 (which I am kicking myself for not getting video of that) and remained on stage through the next set as well. Below is a video of Big Gigantic performing Fantastic with Griz and Gramatik as well as a video of STS9 performing “Rent”.
Sunday started off cloudy with speckles of rain so we took a muddy adventure to Umphrey’s last set of the weekend followed by The North Mississippi Allstars. One of my favorite shows of the weekend came that afternoon by the Giving Tree Band. The band consists of about six or seven guys that play a variety of string instruments throughout the set and just throw down heavy pulsating rhythms that get the feet stomping. They also played a fantastic cover of the Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” to finish off their set. Then we ran to the Avett Brothers and not ten minutes after we made it the rain came down heavy in the fifty degree weather. We ducked into the nearest campsite in the group and waited it out. We waited. And waited. The storm calmed to a drizzle and I bailed straight to home base, our campsite, and ended up staying in the tent.
There was about an hour pause. During that hour I ran back and forth from my tent to the car packing up everything that I didn’t need anymore. Then back to the tent I went to brave the storm. Wind gusts rocked the tent, flashes of lightning illuminated the sky with eerie delayed rumbles that shook the ground, and the rain just kept on falling. I had Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” guitar riff on loop in my head until my tent steaks got ripped out of the ground. I resorted to holding one side of my tent up in desperation. I did that for an hour before realizing “Yeah, this storm is going nowhere.” I threw in the towel and said to hell with it, I’m sleeping in the car. I was hoping in the back of my mind that my tent would be in the same place in the morning. Apparently it got so bad that night that Trey Anastasio’s second set got canceled due to safety concerns. The most heartbreaking cancelation was Moe.’s final show at the Moonshine tent which is the ceremonial farewell to all Summer Campers. It was also canceled for safety concerns.
After six hours of on and off sleep I walked out of the lot to see that my tent was still there, but it was entirely collapsed. I was very grateful when my neighbors helped me roll up my tent. I would occasionally stop and watch the entertainment in the parking lot. I was amused but also dreading the part when I become the entertainment because there was no way a Buick would make it through a foot of slushy mud. It was a good day to own a four wheeler in Chillicothe. I paid twenty bucks to get pushed up to the gravel road and off I went. It was pretty easy to identify fellow Summer Campers on the High Way because we were all covered in mud. That marked another S’camp in the books and this one definitely made for a good story. I can’t wait until next year.