Summer Camp Music Festival 2011: Day 3 & Day 4

May 27th - 29th, 2011
Three Sisters Park - Chillicothe, IL

Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)

Saturday, May 28th:

Saturday arrived quickly after the intensely entertaining evening of music the previous night. With the sun beating down on my tent, I propped myself upright and began to question the events that transpired a few hours beforehand. I felt emotionally drained from the moe. set that scrambled my brain in the Red Barn, taking comfort in the fact that the majority of acts performing on Saturday didn’t interest me. After 2 days of constantly moving, Saturday provided an opportunity to relax a bit and enjoy the festival in a more relaxed state of mind.

I walked the festival for the majority of the early afternoon. The muddy trails were becoming less navigable with each passing moment, and with minimal sunlight to dry up the mess, I didn’t have much hope in the ground’s conditions improving. The party continued nonetheless. I saw many happy campers enjoying their time together along my travels that eventually led me to Two Fresh’s set.

Two Fresh is actually a trio that features twin brothers Sherwyn and Kendrick Nicholls on laptops with drummer Colby Buckler providing the live beats. Their set at Summer Camp took the crowd through hip-hop and jazz-influenced electronica that had me dancing from start to finish. Generally I prefer live instrumentation over sounds produced by DJs spinning or artists on laptops, but all throughout Summer Camp I found myself warming up to the different musical approaches performers were taking.

After a brief stop at the campsite, I made my way to the main stage for a bit of Keller William’s Kdubalicious set. During this show, Keller Williams handled bass duties with keyboardist Jay Starling and drummer Mark D flanking him on both sides. It didn’t take long before I lost interest in Kdubalicious. The output was a bit too loose for my tastes and Keller, overall an incredible musician, couldn’t hold my attention on the bass. Walking away during “Freeker by the Speaker”, I headed over to the catch the end of Girl Talk.

When I arrived, the scene at Girl Talk was exactly the spectacle I expected to see. The crowd was goin’ nuts for the “DJ”, but I found little substance behind the smoke and mirrors. When his set ended, Girl Talk played John Lennon’s “Imagine” and shot a bunch of paper, or trash, into the audience, ending his charade of a performance. I thought to myself, “I wonder what John Lennon would think of this guy’s show?”

After a brief walkthrough of Papadosio, I got a bite to eat in preparation of Umphrey’s McGee and moe. who were trading headlining sets to close out the evening. The Umphrey’s sets played out as expected… awesome lights, incredible virtuosity by guitarist Jake Cinninger and drummer Kris Myers, a few new songs that didn’t go anywhere… I figured out that I had flat-out seen this band WAY too many times. Even the songs I once considered to be my favorites had me thinking about once was.

Umphrey’s was my musical backbone for many years, and although it’s bittersweet at times to see them perform, I’ll always have the memories of the glorious days past. As I walked away from the stage during the encore, the band busted into “Live and Let Die”, an apropos ending to my Umphrey’s McGee Saturday night experience.

When one door closes, another opens with opportunity. I originally started traveling to Summer Camp as an Umphreak, but as time has passed and I’ve aged a bit, I’ve enjoyed my metamorphosis into a moe.ron. I was giddy with excitement for moe., and the band didn’t disappoint. They began their first set with a “Wind It Up” and never looked back, steamrolling through two sets of psychedelic country funk that contained the best jams of the weekend.

There were multiple highlights during the moe. sets, a few of my favorites being “The Pit”, “Sensory Deprivation Bank”, a “Crab Eyes” performed on Ipads by all five members and a no nonsense “Skrunk > Lazarus > McBain > Recreational Chemistry” to close out the show. I have no idea why moe. chose to play a song entirely on Ipads, but “Crab Eyes” sounded damn close to how it normally would if each member were playing their respective instruments. “Recreational Chemistry” was nearly twenty minutes long and exploded to dizzying heights by the end of the jam, my favorite moment of the weekend musically! After a rockin’ “Captain America” encore, I walked back to the campsite, rested my legs for a bit then hit the tent for some much needed rest.

Day 3 Photo Gallery

Sunday, May 29th:

Ah, the final day of Summer Camp. I hate leaving music festivals. I’m the type of person who usually gets homesick faster than your average Joe, but something about these gatherings makes me want to stay forever and watch music for the rest of my life. Selfish, I know, but a guy can dream, right? As I woke up to ominous clouds in the horizon, the oncoming storms made me wonder how the day would play out. I had friends arriving on Sunday to catch Widespread Panic’s set, and the idea of adding more people to the mix was a bit unsettling considering the conditions of the festival grounds. A hard rain did indeed hit from 12 PM to 1 PM, stopping sets that included Fareed Haque’s MathGames, a show that I was bummed to miss.

After the final round of inclement weather of the weekend, I headed off to catch Huey Lewis and the rUMors. I arrived to see Cornmeal sound checking instead and soon learned that they had switched sets with the aforementioned Huey Lewis set. Walking away, I heard someone yell, “Shoot the moon!” I turned to look and saw a hippie doing his best Superman impression through the mud. What followed next was some of the most hilarious wookery that I’ve ever seen in person…

A crowd of a few hundred stood and stared in utter shock and amazement as a few folks took turns both riding on sleds and diving through the mud at full speed. It was a hysterical sight to see as I was cracking up the entire time I watched the joyrides and muddy face-plants. Only at a music festival would something this ridiculously awesome go down.

As for the music on Sunday, I was let down by some artists who I had waited all weekend to see perform. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones had a huge audience at the Main Stage. The talent in the band speaks for itself, but I was underwhelmed by their performance as a whole. I’m a sucker for the saxophone and the absence of Jeff Coffin affected my perception of the show. Howard Levy is an amazing musician but I wasn’t feelin’ his harmonica in place of the Coffin’s sax. I watched the band play a couple tunes including one of my favorite Flecktones jams, “The Sinister Minister”. After that song, I headed towards Huey Lewis and the rUMors to catch the end of their set.

What I saw was Huey Lewis was dull. Watching Umphrey’s onstage with the 80s pop star was intriguing for a few moments, but the music wasn’t what I was looking for. I bounced to check out Everyone Orchestra in the Red Barn for an announced set. Everyone Orchestra is a great concept. Get a bunch of random artists together and have a jam session… the idea represents what improvisational music is all about.

Led by madman Matt Butler, Everyone Orchestra takes ideas written on a board by Butler and jams to his direction. The ensemble at Summer Camp include bassist Chris Wood (MMW, The Wood Brothers), guitarists Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds) and Al Schnier (moe.), keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth (The String Cheese Incident), violinist Erin Zindle (The Ragbirds) and moe.’s drummer Vinnie Amico plus a few others artists that I didn’t recognize. This was the third time I’ve seen this project and it dragged in comparison to the first two. As cool as the project is, the music lacked direction and lacked energy.

I skipped moe.’s first set to watch Widespread Panic’s entire performance. Although it wasn’t awe-inspiring I had a lot of fun hanging with the audience who showed a passionate love for the band, cheering them on at every turn. And then there’s Jimmy Herring. Whoa… this guy shreds his guitar like no other. I dare anyone to pick a better rock and roll guitarist. Go ahead, I’ll take Herring any day of the week. As Panic moved through a set that was mellow by their standards, the band slowly built momentum until the finale, a cover of fallen friend Vic Chestnutt’s “Protein Drink / Sewing Machine” that rivaled anything else I heard all weekend.

As I headed back towards the main stage after Panic, I heard the blasting womp tones of Bassnectar in the distance. I arrived to the top of the Main Stage hill to witness the insanity going down in front of the stage, wondering how in the hell I would push my way through so many people. Never had I seen so many inflatable toys and glow thingamajigs in my entire life. I don’t care for Bassnectar’s music at all, and it would have been obnoxious to stick around as long as I did if there wasn’t so much eye candy unfolding in front of me. I dipped after I absorbed as much as I could handle, making my way to the secret set at Summer Camp Counselor Nicholas Stock’s campsite.

The secret set was a short Cornmeal / moe. acoustic performance in honor of fellow MusicMarauder Nicholas Stock, the inaugural Summer Camp Counselor. The bands pulled up in golf carts sporting quite the entourage of friends, family and security, and after some quick instructions to the small crowd, the members of Cornmeal and moe. joined for unforgettable renditions of “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” and “The Weight”. Moe. bassist Rob Derhak messed up some lyrics to “The Weight” and afterwards was aided by the audience in sing-a-long fashion. This was an experience I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

After the two songs, moe. hopped on their golf carts and took off towards the Main Stage to play their second set. I followed, finding a spot with my friend Shamarr in front of the sound board for what was to be the final moe. set of the weekend. The set started started and ended with fan favorites, opening with a nasty “Plane Crash” and encoring with a high flyin’ “Rebubula”.

Besides these two monsters offerings, “Seat of My Pants” was the only other tune during the set that had me goin’ wild. This was the first time of the weekend that I watched a show directly in front of a sound board, and I’m glad I did because moe’s. lasers were outer-worldly from that point-of-view. Moe., especially guitarist Chuck Garvey, threw it down in righteous fashion all weekend. As a completely converted moe.ron, I hope they tour the Midwest soon.

After moe., I headed to STS9 with Shamarr for the late night in the Red Barn. We waited outside while EOTO was playing, and once they finished, we entered the intensely hot sauna of a venue. As much as I enjoyed the music, especially “Arigato”, I couldn’t handle the heat for the duration. I even tried taking off my shirt to the horror of those around me. In the end, the sweltering heat in the Red Barn was too much to take so I enjoyed the rest of Sound Tribe from a cooler distance.

I waited for Shamarr to exit, and once we met, it hit me… no more Summer Camp. The festival went by so fast that I barely had time to think about my experiences throughout the weekend. I had to 6-hour drive the next day to recollect my thoughts, and a safe, comfortable ride home it was… as soon as I got my car out of the mud after 4 hours of trying. It was well worth my troubles, of course.

Day 4 Photo Gallery


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