Dave Matthews Band Caravan Chicago: Day Two
July 8th - July 10th
Words By Andrew Veerman
Photos By Jay Miller (Gaian Eye Photography)
Day two was off to the races as people piled in through the gates on what would be another extremely hot Chicago afternoon. Staying hydrated would again be essential. As I settled in for the first set of the day at The Slip Stage, it didn’t take long to look up and see the Summer Camp banners blowing in the wind, hanging high atop the stage. The facelift signified one thing that was sure to bring a crowd, Summer Camp is here. The entire day two lineup at the Slip Stage was composed of artists who perform regularly each year at Three Sister’s Park in Chillicothe, Illinois. First on the plate was Cornmeal.
With JP Nowak giving a drum roll intro for the other four members, Cornmeal took the stage with the fierce tenacity that is known for and loved by their fans. For a bluegrass band, Cornmeal is anything but typical. Allie Kral (fiddle & vocals) worked the crowd to exhaustion with relentless pulls of the bow across her fiddle’s strings. Her energy was well-received from the crowd with hoots and hollers going up every time she took her turn soloing. Cornmeal as a group is extremely passionate about their art, bringing the love and joy of performing for live audiences to every show. This early set was no exception to that.
Cornmeal was followed shortly by Yonder Mountain String Band. Jeff Austin made no hesitation in telling the crowd right off the bat, “There’s a time for talk, and that time isn’t now.” With that, the band ripped into playing. Looking around the crowd, I could tell the mass of people was growing as the day moved along. Jeff took his first solo and strummed his mandolin so viciously I could only think that the thing would explode in a million pieces at any second. Jeff jokingly commented that this was probably the best 3:00 PM set they’d ever played as he toasted his drink to the crowd. Even though the band only had an hour onstage, they filled every second with music, dancing, and a few jokes to keep everyone’s spirits high. Yonder ended the set with a crowd favorite and sing-a-long tune, “Casualty”.
After Yonder, a small break in the air conditioned Marlboro Experience tent refreshed me for the next Slip Stage show. The crowd was still growing with many fans of the next band, moe., packing in tightly. Moe. grabbed the immediate attention of the crowd with “St. Augustine”. This song had just the right energy for the crowd and no one hesitated to start dancing around in the blazing sun. With only a few songs investment in moe., I had to make my way over to the Lakeside Stage to catch G. Love & Special Sauce.
Lakeside was packed for G. Love, and the VIP tent had become engulfed with people. I weaved through the moving bodies in the crowd to the far side of the stage to listen. The crowd response was huge as the band moved into through their set. G. Love or Garret Dutton (guitarist, harmonica, vocals) gave a brief introduction and moved right into "Milk and Sugar". Dutton danced and jumped across the stage to the beat of his own music, really feeding off the crowd while showing everyone what a performer he truly is. With funky renditions of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", John Cash's "Folsom Prison Blue", and Biz Markie's "Just a Friend", he gave the crowd exactly what they had come to see, an unfiltered, high-energy performance.
At long last it was time for Umphrey's McGee at the Slip Stage. It was my first opportunity to hear these guys, and after listening to their studio albums and live recordings for years, I was ready to see what it was all about. I was not disappointed with their performance in the least bit. Onstage they carried the same passion you can hear from them in every performance and album. I like to think of their stage performance as a common man’s opera. The hometown crowd in Chicago often took the time to sing along with the boys. The typical Jefferson Waful light show wasn’t there at the Caravan. I see the lights as an important part of the show, but the band didn’t let that stop them from playing their hearts out. Brendan Bayliss graced the crowd with the most memorable moment of the weekend for myself, playing “Hajimemashite” into the setting sun. The emotional song carried into the distance and almost had me in tears with how beautiful the moment was. Just before the band finished their set, the large crowd started to lightly disperse towards the main stage for Dave Matthews. The remaining crowd at the Slip Stage was still by far the largest that it had been all day.
Dave made no delay coming to the stage and welcoming the largest crowd of the weekend. Unfortunately, some technical problems led to me not being able to stay for the set. "He played more of his media favorites," said Conner Drell the next day. Conner is a huge Dave Matthew’s fan and went on to say, "The third night will be the best by far.”
Jay Miller’s Day Two Photos
DMB Caravan Day One
DMB Caravan Day Three