By: Kaidy Mae Newman
Traveling to a summer festival is a big decision. For those of us in Canada it often entails putting thousands of kilometers on our wheels, crossing a border, eating “road food” for longer than is healthy, and having a week’s worth of cleaning upon the return home. It is likely the most expensive weekend you will have all year. Yet it also entails something that makes it all worth it: a weekend of music, memories and laughing until your face hurts. I live for summer festivals. I like to think that I’m still not old enough or responsible enough to be doing somethine else with my summer weekends. There is no “should we go?” It is definitely still a “which one will we go to?” My energy and finances do have their limits, after all.
So, how does one decide which festival to invest in when there are so many out there? There are several factors to consider, but if you want to look strictly at the line-up, I don’t think you need to look any further than the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, IL.
Here’s a rundown of the musicians and bands that have us packing up the car and heading over 1000 km southwest into the “Land of Lincoln” to rock and most definitely roll.
The headliners are all well-established acts in the jam scene and require no introduction. If you don’t know or love this year’s “big font” bands, well, then that is where you need to start. Check ‘em out here. Warning: you could literally lose days watching their live performances on YouTube.
Celebrating fifteen years together, Umphrey's will be taking to the stage no less than six times over the weekend. On top of that, members of this band will also be playing in Cosby Sweater and Digital Tape Machine. And they will be hosting a private Saturday afternoon set complete with open bar. They are busy bees. This video is from their show at Red Rocks last year. It's worth tracking down the entire show.
These gents are always a festival favourite. Heck, they have even been hosting their own festival going on fourteen years now. Moe. will be playing all three days of the festival as well as a more intimate late night set in the Red Barn.
Trey Anastasio Band
This Trey Anastasio Band performance from back in 2009 is a great example of the energy that this band can bring. The line-up has changed since this show (a changeover in the horn section is now a powerful trio made up of Jen Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and James Casey). The dynamic between Anastasio and Ray Paczkowski (on keys) is a well-cultivated one. Lucky "Scamp" attendees will get two full sets of TAB.
THE SUPPORTING CAST
Next we get to a batch of the “medium font” bands. In here we have (in order) a Disco Biscuits spin-off who have become a festival staple, a sax/drums/electronica duo who want you to have their album for free (www.biggigantic.net), a collective with the maximum amount of funk that you can fit on one stage, a Greyboy Allstars alum who just wants to make you dance, and some of the fastest bluegrass fiddle jams this side of the Mississippi. Enjoy!
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
THE DECIDING FACTORS
If you have seen the line-up, you will have noticed by now that this list is in no way conclusive. There are glaring omissions that will be covered in future posts (the Avett Bros, anyone?). For now, I just want to bring you to my favourite part: the bands in the smallest font on the poster. For me, deciding between the musical buffet of festivals at offer will often come down to this list. Some of these bands are so absolutely freaking dynamite that I will happily pass a stage with a bigger act in order to see these ones. Many of my favourite bands were once in the little type at the bottom of the poster. Having such a well-rounded line-up is what make's Summer Camp worth the drive.
The Bright Light Social Hour
These Austin boys have been touring non-stop since debuting their self-titled album and taking home six awards at SXSW. If you have been lucky enough to catch one of their Canadian dates, then you know what I’m talking about. I could make a separate list of reasons why these guys kick so much ass. Not only do they blow the roof off of every venue that they play, they also have one of the most gorgeous vinyl pressings I ever did see, their Instagram feed is hilarious, and they have actually been described as “incendiary” (in a way that Stillwater could only dream of). Southern rock, soul, psychedelic funk and dancey beats make quite the musical salad. On top of all that, they can sing. They ALL can sing.
Tauk are new to me, and the act that I am most excited about seeing for the first time. I would not hesitate to guess that most bands/musicians that I like have been influenced by the Beatles. This is likely the sexiest thing to ever happen to my favourite track from Abbey Road.
I first caught this band at the Come Together Music Festival back in 2010 and have been itching to see them again ever since. They inspire an audio/visual synesthesia of sorts. If I meet someone who likes UV Hippo, chances are good that there will be a lot of crossover in our music libraries.
Throw in Ohio’s Papadosio for a dash of exploratory late night jam electronica with more LED hula hoops than you can shake a stick at.
Wick-It the Instagator
There’s no denying the Black Keys’ album Brothers is a classic. It was also overplayed. It really stinks when something that you love becomes something that you start to avoid. Check out this re-worked version by Wick-It the Instigator if you’d like to fall in love with it all over again. The album becomes more hip-hop than guitar rock when it is mixed with Big Boi’s debut (The Son of Chico Dusty). The familiarity is there, without it feeling repetitive. Wick-It mashed up these two entire albums. For the end result and to see what else he can do, hop on over here: http://mashville.bandcamp.com/album/the-brothers-of-chico-dusty
Stay tuned for more lists and to catch my photos and festival review. In just over a week I’ll be updating live from Summer Camp. You should come!