For the past 15 Memorial Day weekends Summer Camp Music Festival has been a staple for music and art fanatics off all sorts. Summer Camp transforms Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois into a dreamlike showcase of topnotch musical acts.
Performances range from jam band legends like Umphreys Mcgee and Moe to up and coming electro funk artists like The Floozies and Griz to blue grass and deep house and everything in between. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it at Summer Camp.
With so much music to hear and sites to see, it is nearly impossible to describe the full experience so here are 10 of the top performances of the weekend, or at least what I was lucky enough to catch!
10. Earphorik – Thursday Pre-Party Kick Off
This performance was really special for myself, and the group that I traveled to Summer Camp with the last couple of years. Having known the members of Earphorik since we were kids it was surreal seeing their large festival debut. The thing that made it special was watching a band start so small playing crammed house parties in small towns around Fort Wayne, IN to playing on the same stage as nationwide acts. To me this is what music festivals are all about.
Earporik combines a mixture of dirty funk with crunchy rock guitar riffs, deep base lines, and crisp drum beats. They have played with UV Hippo, Sun Stereo, and the Mantras in the last year and will be playing locally at Hyperion later this summer. Keep an eye out for a new album to drop in the very near future; they are currently recording at Jake Cinninger of Umphreys Mcgee’s Boondock Studios.
9. Break Science/Manic Focus Collaboration – Thursday Red Barn Late Night
Watching Adam Dietsch lay down nasty beats on the drums while Manic Focus worked in his smooth yet dirty wobbles made for an unforgettable performance. The air was electric and scampers were ready to get down on the first night. Needless to say, these guys brought the noise and kicked the festival off in the right fashion.
8. Widespread Panic – Sunday Night
After a Sunday spent trying to battle scattered storms, there was some question as to how the shows featured on Sunday night would turn out. Those questions were answered when the rock legends hailing from Georgia took the stage and shredded two sets for the wide-eyed and wet crowd. I am already trying to get a fix of spread. These guys don’t disappoint.
7. Future Rock – Daft Punk Tribute – Saturday Night
Just when we thought we had our fill of weirdness for a Saturday night we “Got Lucky” and made our way into the Future Rock Daft Punk tribute for one more set before resting the dancing feet. Future Rock, hailing from Chicago, played two hours of Daft Punk putting their unique fusion of progressive rock and electronic beats to good work. You think Daft Punk is good? Wait until you see these guys do their live rendition of “One More Time.”
6. Victor Wooten – Saturday Morning “Sermon”
On Saturday around noon we found ourselves at one of the smaller stages for an up close and personal set with Victor Wooten. The set turned into more of a personal lesson about life and music from Wooten. We were able to be part of a small crowd and listen to Wooten play loops while he explained how he teaches music to his students. He also got the crowd involved and touched on social and political issues.
5. Kung Fu – Collaboration With The Motet & Big Gigantic – Saturday Night
I took a chance on this Saturday night late night set after some urging from friends. I had a wristband to see STS9 in the Red Barn and I chose this collaboration instead after seeing STS9 the night before. Usually gambling doesn’t pay off for me but in this case it most definitely did. The boys from Kung Fu teamed up with Gabe Mervine (trumpet player from the Motet) and Jeremy Salken (drummer from Big Gigantic). All I can say is holy funk—they mixed in songs from each of their rotations and it was one of the best collaborative funk jams I have ever seen.
4. Umphreys McGee / God Boner – Collaboration with Gene Ween –
I have admittedly never gotten extremely into Ween in the past, but anything that Umphreys brings to the table, I am going to give a shot. Once Gene Ween took the stage with South Bend natives Umphreys Mcgee, the crowd went wild. The song “Spinal Meningitis” was one of the weirdest and mentally intriguing versions of a song I have heard to this day.
3. STS9 Collaboration With Victor Wooten – Friday Night Late
Since joining STS9 about nine months ago, Alana Rocklin has been laying down some of the funkiest base lines in the business. Pair that with one of the best bass players on the planet for a late night set and you have yourself a real treat. Watching STS9 spin their intricate web over the crowd with Wooten’s heavy but smooth beats was one of the most unique performances of the weekend.
2. Moe with Bruce Hornsby – Grateful Dead Tribute – Sunday Afternoon
What better way to weather the Sunday storms, enjoy the sun that we did have, and purely relax than by watching the 15 year Summer Camp veterans and jam legends Moe. pay tribute to the best touring band of all time.
After three long, hard nights of partying, most people are in need of something to sooth the soul by Sunday. Moe did just that with songs like “Sugaree” and “Scarlet Begonias” to make for a perfect last-day-of-the-festival afternoon. You can catch Moe performing the pre party and post party sets for the Dead 50 shows in Chicago over the July 4th weekend.
1. Umphreys Mcgee – Saturday Night Set
No matter how many times you have seen Umphreys Mcgee, the only given is that your mind will be blown. Saturday night was no exception. Umphreys played an absolutely electric set Saturday night and put the cherry on top with a Regulators cover – complete with Chris Myers and Andy Farag rapping while keeping the funkiest of beats alive. Umphreys wrapped up the set with an emotional encore of “Glory and Divisions”.
Special thanks to Keith Griner of Phierce Photography for all the beautiful eye candy.