Summer Camp 2010 Chillicothe, IL: Saturday

Article and Photos By Greg Molitor

Three Sisters Park – Chillicothe, Illinois

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I woke up Saturday a sweaty mess. It was 8:00 in the morning, and I could already tell it would be the hottest day of the weekend. In fact, the entire weekend was blistering hot. I perspire more than your average Joe, but a little sweat couldn’t stop me this weekend. A valuable perk of attending Summer Camp has been the large number of trees throughout the festival grounds. While other festivals lack in the shade department, one can easily find shade within a minute’s walk of any stage at Camp.


Available to take advantage of, also, was the VIP bar located in the VIP camping section behind the main stage. I realize this option wasn’t available to all campers, but I surely was appreciative of the couches, chairs, and cheap drinks to keep me comfortable, shaded, and hydrated whenever I found a minute to chill. With people partying hard in heat, many artists recommended water during their sets all weekend and should be applauded for their concern. It was unquestionably the hottest Summer Camp I’ve attended and easily comparable to my experiences at Bonnaroo.


During my time spent away from the stages Saturday, the spirit of Summer Camp was beginning to shine through everyone I saw. Each successive year, seemingly more and more people dress extravagantly, paint their bodies, bring colorful accessories, or do whatever it takes to become part of the show. Summer Camp truly is an interactive festival; if any camper couldn’t find themselves at ease this weekend, I’m not sure where else it would be possible. The constant sight of people laughing and enjoying the company of friends was certainly enough to make me feel like I was home again. I was exactly where I should have been over Memorial Day weekend.


Before I dive into my concert reviews, I’d like to thank Mr. Rex Thomson once again for his incredible generosity throughout the weekend. I’ve always had a passion for expressing myself through words, but Summer Camp 2010 was the first festival that required me to document my experience through pictures. Amateur doesn’t begin to describe my lack of knowledge regarding photography, so having Rex, a true professional by my side all weekend was THE saving grace. Not only did Rex teach me all he could during the time we spent together, he also made my first photography experience the most enjoyable it could have possibly been. Thank you Rex!


In addition to being such a great dude, Rex is also running for the Mayor of Moe.Down 2010! If you get a chance, please support Rex’s campaign to be the people’s mayor! I know he’s a lock already to win, but he still needs all the love we can provide! Now let’s get to down to the nitty-gritty…here are my Saturday concert reviews!


The Hue

The Hue kicked off Saturday’s music marathon at 11:00 A.M. on the Campfire Stage. I had heard good things previously about the band, but was a bit underwhelmed during my time watching their set. The guitar player showed flurries of technical wizardry, but the group’s progressive rock sound was unpleasantly distorted. Although I didn’t stay long, I plan on checking out The Hue again as their sound issues could have been a fluke.


The Station

The Station, whose set also began 11:00 A.M. on the nearby Starshine Stage, carried the same attitude towards making music as The Hue. In comparison, The Station’s progressive sound was more polished and contained the cohesiveness that is required to play their rhythmically tight brand of rock and roll. If energizing the pre-noon crowd was their goal, The Station succeeded in their 8th straight Summer Camp appearance.


Jaik Willis

After winning the Summer Camp online contest, the promoters awarded folk artist Jaik Willis with a performance at Summer Camp 2010. Jaik won several rounds of online voting, his popularity obvious from the crowd that gathered to witness his hour-long set. A folk artist with sharp lyrics, Willis immediately blew me away with his vocals. As a jam-band lover, vocal instrumentation usually takes the backseat to the improvisational instrumentation provided by strings, keys, drums, and so on. Jaik Willis’ solo folk performance, however, was the total package I had been craving all weekend as he delivered uncut soul to my ears his entire set.


Jaik had a few sound issues when his friend joined him for a couple tunes on the cello, but the problems couldn’t keep those walking past from slowing their travels to watch Jaik in action. Many interested campers stopped, clearly in awe of Jaik and his command of his sound, and as his audience grew throughout his set, the pure emotion and energy flowing through his music did likewise. He finished his set with a solo beat-box performance of ‘Billie Jean’, a quite impressive undertaking considering he sang the lyrics and created the beats seamlessly ala Rahzel.


The Macpodz ft Jake Cinninger

After a short break from music, I returned to the Starshine Stage to catch my second set of the weekend from The Macpodz. This set had extra intrigue than the standard Macpodz set as Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger was scheduled to perform with the band. I missed the sit-in, unfortunately, because Cinninger didn’t join The Macpodz until after I had left the stage. I left the Starshine Stage a happy Summer Camper, though, as the three-quarters of their set I did catch was incredibly on-point and full of groovalicious moments. That’s right…groovalicious! Through hard-work and relentless touring, they have created a sound that is novel, interesting, and undeniably danceable. I feel honored to have personally seen their music’s incredible progression and growth since the group’s inception.



Steel Pulse

Although I had thoroughly enjoyed The Macpodz’s set, I was upset I missed as much of Steel Pulse’s set as I did. Steel Pulse performed a style of reggae I had never witnessed before their show. Their namesake sound, industrial and distorted, better represented the struggles of the Jamaican people more than any group I had ever heard before. I only caught three songs near the end of their set, but those songs, pouring emotion from their root, were certainly enough to leave a huge impression on my conscience.


Victor Wooten

From Steel Pulse, I wandered to the second largest stage, the Sunshine Stage. As I heard virtuosity in the near proximity, I hurried to see the wondrous fusion Victor Wooten and his band was throwin’ down. And wow…they were throwin’ down! The best technical abilities I saw all weekend were on display during Victor Wooten’s set of shred-heavy jazz and R&B.


Flanked by his brother Regi, Victor led his band through a somewhat disjointed but musically lush set. If one is ever in search of an individual who has mastered their instrument, he or she should look no further than bass master Victor Wooten. He rivals Stanley Clarke as the most technically impressive bassist I have witnessed live. As I walked away from the stage, Victor invited a few of the band members’ children to join him onstage for an impromptu jam. Victor’s nine-year-old son was the first to join as he picked up a bass and showed a technical prowess that, for someone his age, could only be described as mind-blowing! He had his father’s technique down pat and was ripping bass lines a hack musician like me could only dream of playing. What a treat!


ALO

This was my first encounter with ALO, also known as Animal Liberation Orchestra. The band’s sound was welcoming and provided a nice moment to relax after the insanity Victor Wooten’s set brought. I found guitarist Dan Lebowitz’s beautiful pedal steel contributions be the most enjoyable part of their sound as his delicate phrases brought a warm, calming feel to the music. Although I wouldn’t consider ALO for heavy rotation in my music listening, their set was quite entertaining. As a band already doing big things in the scene, ALO will continue to demand serious attention for some time to come with their light but focused sound.


Ana Sia

At the completely opposite end of the festival grounds, there was an equally opposite vibe at the Starshine Stage. As I arrived after the long walk, DJ Ana Sia was finishing her set of bass-heavy party hits to the most hyped-up crowd of the afternoon. It was a great crowd to watch as campers raged ridiculously hard to the dialed-up beats, bleeps, and bass Ana Sia created. Her bass and overall tones were not as complex and overdriven as Bassnectar’s from the previous night, but I enjoyed her mixes and the overall crowd vibe more. Most importantly, this show got me in the mood to get down, cut loose, and enjoy the upcoming Saturday nightlife.


Keller Williams

Keller Williams is an incredibly talented entertainer who provided many great photo-ops during his early evening set at Summer Camp. With regards to the music, however, I just couldn’t get into his set. Keller’s acoustic guitar has always sounded crisp, but at Summer Camp, his electronic drum sampler brought an unusually muddy tone to the mix. Because the mix was off, I decided to catch a few songs and keep movin’. Although his solo sets haven’t been my cup-of-tea as of late, I am looking forward to the next time I see Keller play with a full band where his talents are allowed to shine in a fresh setting without the presence of looped tracks or drum machines.


Umphrey’s McGee (Set 1)

Saturday’s sets from Umphrey’s McGee were more focused than their previous night’s efforts, beginning the first with a rockin’ rendition of their bluegrass-influenced tune, “Phil’s Farm”. The rest of the set was on-point as Umphrey’s took the necessary kick-ass, take-no-prisoners attitude that defines rock and roll as we know it. Halfway through the set, the band busted out a huge take on their jam-vehicle, “All in Time”. Umphrey’s could play “All in Time” every set and I would never complain. It’s a powerhouse of a tune, and I loved every minute of its harmonized guitar phrases and thunderous drum riffs.


Near the end of the set, Umphrey’s McGee welcomed Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret to the stage. The Filthy Little Secret is a horn section that accompanies Umphrey’s during their New Year’s Eve runs; for them to join the band onstage for Summer Camp was quite the pleasant surprise. With the horns, Umphrey’s put a new spin on their tune, “Cemetary Walk”, and then absolutely destroyed a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”. I love “Sledgehammer” very much, one could imagine how ecstatic I was to hear their take on the funky 80s tune. If you guessed ridiculously out-of-my-mind ecstatic, you are on the right track in gauging the bliss I was feeling.


To my fault, I lost track of time during Moe’s first set and missed half of Umphrey’s second set. I made my way back to the Starshine Stage to hear Umphrey’s intensely finishing “Mantis” to a giant synchronized fireworks display. Although I was told I had missed an amazing first half of the set, I did manage to make it back for four songs. Again featuring horns, the always fun “Women Wine and Song” was the first tune I heard in the second set. After “WW&S”, Umphrey’s covered Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, and then finished their set with the fan favorite, “Nothing Too Fancy”. Both songs contained incredible peaks, but the highlight of set, perhaps of all the Umphrey’s sets, was the encore, “Mulche’s Odyssey”. Find this show and listen to this monster jam immediately for some incredible rock-your-face-off moments!


Moe.

I began my walk to the Moonshine Stage as Umphrey’s was playing the final notes to “Sledgehammer”. Moe.’s night sets at Summer Camp have always been especially nasty and fun as their evening sets at Summer Camp 2010 were no exception. They brought the funk early, beginning the set with the classic “Akimbo”. From this point forward, there was no looking back. The band gleefully carried a momentous groove throughout the first set as jams from “Sensory Deprivation Bank” and a personal favorite, “McBain”, proved worthy of epic status.


The second set, my favorite set from any artist all weekend, featured deeply-felt musical expressions that only Moe. could create. The jam in “Buster” was absolutely captivating as guitarist Chuck Garvey was in no hurry to rush his fingers up the fret board. Instead, he took the time to build a gorgeous melodic theme while allowing the rest of the band to fill space and push the phrases to its affective peak. A lost “32 Things” jam was the only negative element to the entire set, but considering how well Moe. was playing, there was nothing that could have ruined my vibe this night. After solid versions of crowd favorites “Moth” and “Farmer Ben”, a strong encore of “Lazarus” signaled the end to my evening. It was a few minutes past midnight, and I was exhausted.


I had the opportunity to attend the Pretty Lights/STS9 late-night, but since I had raged until the early morning the previous two nights, my body was telling me to pass. After a few goodbyes to my friends, I made the trip back to my campsite for the evening. Saturday was a marathon of a day, and had I not paced myself on Thursday and Friday, I seriously doubt I could have pushed myself as hard as I did to get coverage. Self-control is an important trait I am still trying to master. In life, a setting sun brings inevitability, but a sunrise is just as certain. Maybe this was a sign that I have learned from my past experiences….



www.summercampfestival.com

Comments

  1. Love those rob. and al. shots! Just F'Ing love them! Some of these shots are astounding dude. You really did get better all weekend! Can't wait to see you stuff from Saturday.

    And thanks for the campaign publicity! I am just trying to spread a little weirdness!

    Also love the insight you show, and the first glimpses of learning to realize and embrace mortality. we must sometimes rest so as to truly rage another day! Festival coverage is a war, not a battle!!
    -Rex

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dont blame The Hue for the distortion. Blame that shitty sound guy that ran the campfire stage. He didnt know his ass from his elbow.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I plan on seeing The Hue again...no worries!

    ReplyDelete

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