Summer Set Music Festival Recap 2017

Summer Set Music Festival was one of our favorites this summer. The festival has grown and changed several times over the past few years, and the festival has never looked the same twice. We love watching the event grow and change over time. This year was a festival to remember. The event’s smaller attendance did not stop attendees from being ready to rage. The lineup varied from hip-hop to dubstep to chill-step, and every artist delivered their best.

The Music

This year’s Summer Set lineup was a little different than past years, but still maintained the diversity we’ve come to love. This year’s lineup included heavy bass music, lighter chill music and, of course, a dash of hip-hop. We missed the usual cast of characters we’ve seen each year such as Bassnectar or Cherub, but new additions were quite welcome. In fact, only a small handful of artists that played last year returned. This allowed fresh, new artist to get the Summer Set experience and for a new crowd to see what the festival is all about. This year’s headliners were Zedd, Zeds Dead, and GRiZ with Illenium and Louis the Child closing out the after parties.

Top 5 artists of the weekend:

Zeds Dead – This duo has evolved and changed quite a bit since their dubstep beginnings. They have proven a versatility that brings fans from several varied walks of life. From soft vocal tracks to the hardest bass tracks out there. Zeds Dead has become a force to be reckoned with. They closed out Friday night, which set the tone for the rest of the weekend. After leaving Zeds Dead, those with after party tickets were flying high with the energy brought from these two.

Petit Biscuit – A personal favorite for this writer, Petit Biscuit had too early of a set at the festival.  This one man show brings sampled vocals and flawless production. In a scene that begs for innovation, he delivers exactly what his audience wants. Attendance at his 4 PM set was actually pretty good considering it was raining earlier in the day. His chill vibes mixed with danceable beats had everyone dancing at the Main stage. He had incredible energy during his set which translated to his audience, even those sitting in the grass. We’ll make sure to catch Petit Biscuit as soon as he’s back on our radar.

Run the Jewels – The hip-hop stars of the weekend, Run the Jewels was the perfect supergroup to bring the genre to Summer Set. Unlike too many rap artists that simply get on stage and yell into the microphone, these guys know what they are doing and had the perfect balance of music and rap. As someone who doesn’t listen to hip-hop, Run the Jewels made a fan out of this writer. The crowd knew every word and rapped along with them. The energy was hard, but not angry, making it the perfect balance for the festival.

Kasbo – This chill up-and-comer gained several fans at Summer Set with his infectious remixes and love for the crowd. He has gained quite a following on the festival scene and continues to grow and evolve as he goes. From hip-hop to trance, Kasbo knows music and plays with it well. He translated his studio music to a live setting flawlessly, all while paying homage to his audience. Make sure and catch him before the festival season is over.

Destructo – Coming out of the woodwork, Destructo brought his own special flare to the festival no one else could match. His house and electro set kept everyone bouncing and shuffling the entire time. He never stopped the beat and never slowed down. With a set like this, one either loves it or hates it. We loved it. No other artist brought that type of music to the Grove. He stayed true to his roots and had an amazing time doing it. It’s clear he loves his job and we love his raw, honest nature.

The Afters

As usual, the after parties at Summer Set remained the highlights of the weekend. Louis the Child and Illenium brought their A game to the Grove stage. Louis the Child gained several fans as even those who didn’t have tickets stayed at the entrance of the gate listening to the party. These young kids have grown and changed for the better as they continue to bring their signature future bass sound to the world. Illenium brought his usual vocal dance music to his audience while adding some harder bass to the mix. He went harder than expected, which brought people closer to the stage and up on their feet to dance. We love that these after parties remain separate from the normal festival, but remain on the festival grounds. The practice makes each party more intimate, while also creating the necessary buzz to skyrocket the next big star.

The Stages

This year’s Summer Set was a little scaled down from previous years. At its highest, the festival had 6 stages; the Main Stage, the Meadow Stage, the Big Top, the Silent Disco, the Grove and the Saloon. This year ditched the Meadow and the Big Top and added a Pop-Up stage hosted by All Good Records and Manic Focus and Friends. This tiny stage popped up at the top of the hill between the Main and Grove stages, where the Big Top used to sit. The location of the pop-up was announced quite late, and as people’s phones began to die it was word of mouth that brought fans to see these somewhat secret sets. Each artist brought their A game and pulled in fans as they walked from one stage to the next.

The Main stage remained in the same spot as previous years, with the amphitheater’s cement dance floor and natural grass stadium behind it. The Grove stage didn’t receive its usual overhaul, which tells us that organizers have finally found the perfect spot for this one. The Silent Disco continued to grow as the weekend went on, as with all silent discos these days. We’re excited to see the silent disco concept continue to gain momentum. The production of each stage remained flawless. The sound at Summer Set is unmatched, which is why Bassnectar loved coming back year after year. This year’s headliners sounded amazing at each stage, without compromise.

The Atmosphere

One of the most important aspects of any festival is its atmosphere. The people attending the festival, the size of the festival, and the little extras that the festival has to offer all come together to create the whole experience.

One of the best parts of Summer Set is the people. Midwesterners are some of the kindest people on the planet, always willing to help and always greeting others with a genuine smile. Held in the tiny town of Somerset, WI, one is bound to feel the Midwest kindness at Summer Set from the beginning. It’s truly remarkable that a town of only 2K people allows a predominate dance music festival year after year, but we’re not asking any questions.

Summer Set is a small festival, but far from insignificant. The festival began making a name for itself from day one, and as the festival grew, so did the range of those in attendance. Quickly moving from a predominately local festival to becoming nationally known, people now travel from across the country to attend. One attendee from California even mentioned that Summer Set is one of her favorite festivals and travels across the country each year. The festival is a perfect size, large enough to bring national acts, small enough to walk around with ease. Sometimes, at large festivals, forgetting something from your campsite can mean missing an entire set if not more. Travel time at large festivals can be daunting, often walking a half-mile or more, or paying up the behind for over-priced festival cabs. This isn’t the case at Summer Set. One can walk from one end of the festival to the next in just enough time. Of course, festival cabs are still available, but not necessarily needed. The crowd at Summer Set was also the ideal size. The festival didn’t feel empty, but it was also easy to get to the front and jam close to the stage.

As usual, there were a couple carnival rides at Summer Set. The Ferris wheel has always been at the festival, but the addition of the YoYo the past couple years added a little extra fun. For $5 a ride, attendees could fly through the air while watching their favorite main stage acts and it was well worth every penny. These small details help every person have a great experience. The Devil is in the details, and the Devil is always fun.

Overall, Summer Set went without a hitch. The weather was cool, but not cold, it rained, but not for too long, and spirits remained high. Even though the festival was smaller than previous years, it allowed attendees to experience the best of what the festival had to offer without feeling overcrowded. The festival came back to its intimate roots while still hosting worldwide talent. We can’t wait to see what next year has to offer.

 

Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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