Summer Camp Music Festival 2012: Friday

Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Not Coming Down

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

Summer Camp implemented a lot of new technology this year including RFID chips in the bracelets. This is an entirely current advance that helps with security and well as tracking the crowds. In the future it could aid in finding your friends on your smart phone, but I think we are still a few years away from that. I woke up early as the sun bled into my tent. It was the first time in years that I didn’t camp in the woods, which meant that I was up by 9 AM each day to get going on my coverage. I tossed some fresh ice in the cooler and grabbed a shower, all of which were conveniently located in the VIP area. By 11:00 AM I had eaten and was ready for some fun. I opted to save my strength for moe.’s opening set.

I remember being very nervous last year waiting to introduce moe. Maria was calm and collected as she fired up the crowd for an early set by the boys from New York. It was a great kickoff to the official festival; they opened with a fiery “Not Coming Down.”

moe. Live at Summer Camp Music Festival on May 25, 2012.

SET I: Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Downward Facing Dog, Queen Of Everything> Timmy Tucker, All Roads Lead To Home, Crab Eyes, Spine Of A Dog> Buster, Okayalright

moe. came out of the chute with all guns blazing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when a band has an unbroken streak like they have, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. The three part rhythm section of Vinnie, Jim, and Rob rips like a well-oiled machine giving Al and Chuck plenty of room to soar. I continue to be impressed by them at every turn and they are my main reason for coming to Summer Camp. This set featured a massive “Timmy Tucker” that just seemed to go on and on. Their segues were crispy especially the transition from “Spine Of A Dog” into a rowdy “Buster.” They closed their too quick set with a brief “Okayalright.”

I took the opportunity to go charge my batteries at The Church and check in with the crew. Holly had assembled a great group to help everyone. Matt, Danny, and Graham all pitched in to make the weekend run smoothly and I really appreciated their help. After a few posts online and a bottle of water it was back to the main stage for Keller Williams. He emerged from the backstage already strumming guitar like a rascally bard donning a black handkerchief covering his face ala the cover of Thief. He opened with, “I Feel Love” into “Breathe.”

Keller Williams Live at Summercamp on May 25, 2012.

SET I: I Feel Love> Breathe> Turtle In The Front Row> Acoustic Jam> Looping and Intro> Breathe> Freeker By The Speaker> Dragon Attack, I Told You I Was Freaky> Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Floatin’ On The Freshies, Doobie In My Pocket, Loop Jam> Born To Be Wild*

*with Al Schnier

Keller is another one of those artists that is an intrinsic part of the lineup. It would feel weird if he wasn’t there. Even though he had to travel across the country for a performance at Delfest the same weekend he made it point to give us a great afternoon set. The massive “Breathe” was simply stunning showcasing everything Keller brings to the table from acoustic picking to his looping. The “Freeker” got the whole audience in synch and segued into Queen’s “Dragon Attack”. Without missing a beat he went into The Flight of The Concords’ “I Told You I Was Freaky.” I mean who on earth but Keller would string those songs together? Seeing him play is like a random flow of consciousness, which is why I love watching him perform so much. My one request this year was to see Leftover Salmon on the bill so I had to leave during “Doobie In My Pocket” so as not to miss a note. Unfortunately that meant I missed Al’s sit-in on a transcendental “Born To Be Wild.” The nice thing is I can always go back and listen to the recording, which you should do too if you didn’t catch it.

Leftover Salmon is fresh off their incredible performance on the streets of Denver, and I have been sharing my excitement about their resurgence with anyone who will listen. You can read about their show on Santa Fe on the Summer Camp Blog.

SET I: Gulf of Mexico, Just Keep Driving, Liza, Midnight Blues, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Sing Up To The Moon, Highway Song, Better, Light Behind The Rain, Bend In The River

They began with a trio of tunes off of their new release Aquatic Hitchhiker, showing they were ready to set the afternoon on fire. Andy Thorn has truly reinvigorated the band in a big way, adding both his banjo and his vocals to the mix. Salmon has come full circle and I foresee big things for them in the near future. The highlight of their set was a Drew Emmitt lead “Highway Song” that basically melted face.

“I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I drink it at Summer Camp.” – Drew Emmitt

Drew was referencing at totem that featured the spokesman from Dos Equis hovering about the crowd. I feel it’s moments like this that also show the playful nature they all have onstage now. They closed their hour long set with a classic “Bend In The River.”

After a quick trip to post and grab a battery at The Church I was back in the pit for Weir Robinson Green Acoustic Trio at The Sunshine Stage. As they walked out in front of the crowd I quietly checked photographing Bobby off of my life to-do list. They opened with an audience pleasing “Truckin.”

SET I: Truckin’> New Speedway Boogie, Ain’t Broke, Iko Iko, Deep River Blues, West LA Fadeaway, Deep Elem Blues> Dark Hollow, East Virginia Blues, When I Paint My Masterpiece, Uncle John’s Band, Hey Mona, Not Fade Away

I found their mellow flow and musical camaraderie to be quite inviting. Bobby gave both Jackie and Chris ample opportunities to harmonize as well take a few numbers on their own. “West LA Fadeaway” made everyone stand at attention. The “Deep Elem Blues” into “Dark Hollow” was mesmerizing. Amy and I found a spot in the shade and danced away the afternoon. They ended their set with a perfect, “Not Fade Away.” I was ecstatic as I headed to Cornmeal at The Moonshine stage.

For the second time in two days I was seeing Chicago jamgrass monsters, Cornmeal. They have come so far in the last few years, tying up all loose ends musically and coming together as one amazing musical unit. The turnout for this set was a little lax but all those who made it down for the set were dancing up a dust storm. I make it a point to see them whenever they make it to the Front Range and seeing them two days in a row at Summer Camp is just one more cherry on the massive sundae that is this festival. The highlight of the set may have been the down tempo “Old Virginia,” which always seems to melt my heart whenever I get the chance to see it live. We stayed until just after 7:00 PM and skedaddled back Sunshine for the Umph. Following the same formula as last year, with moe. during the day and Umphrey’s headlining the night, Friday belongs to the McGee.

Umphreys McGee Live at Summercamp on May 25, 2012.

SET I: Gurgle> 2nd Shelf, Pay The Snucka> Miami Virtue> Glory, 2x2, Ringo, Loose Ends> Puppet String

SET II: Jekyll & Hyde> Ocean Billy> Mulche’s Odyssey, Bright Lights, Big City> Dump City> Ocean Billy, 40’s Theme, Forty Six & 2, Day Nurse> Pay The Snucka

Now there was a Gogol Bordello show between these two sets, but I’ll get to that. With three full hours of stage time Umphrey’s took us on a musical journey that ran the gambit of what they are capable of. The most striking thing about UM is how incredibly tight they are, they’ve been called an ADD band because of their predilection to stop on a dime and rip off in another direction. I would go so far as to say they can stop on a dime, do a cartwheel, leave seven cents change, pickpocket your sister, and shake your hand at the same time.

"Summer Camp, it is so good to be back. Hands down my favorite fuckin’ festival." -Ryan Stasik

Their Friday show as a whole exemplifies why Umphrey’s is perhaps the last great jamband slashing tunes that spanned progressive to death metal and everything in between. The “Pay The Snucka,” which is arguably my favorite song of theirs, went keyboard trance before breaking down into “Miami Virtue.” I cannot stress how good they are, and just when I think they have peaked I see a show like Friday at Summer Camp. They continue to build and build adding new tricks to their repertoire. The “Ringo” was yet another high point in the show before they ended their first set with “Loose Ends” into “Puppet String.”

The second set started on the darkest of tones with “Jekyll & Hyde” and began their back and forth with a massive “Ocean Billy” sandwich. The meat of that sandwich was a brain-shattering “Mulche’s Odyssey” and an 80’s sounding “Bright Lights, Big City” into “Dump City.” They finished their show by going back into “Snucka.” It was simply put a solid outing by the boys from Chicago.

During setbreak I high-tailed it over to see Gogol Bordello. Having never seen them live before I knew they were high energy, but little could have prepared me for the gypsy punk explosion I witnessed. Passing vocals around the stage like a hot potato with members of the band seeming to appear out of nowhere to take a turn at the microphone. The instrumentation alone was enough to make my head spin. They are most definitely a band I will see again.

After UM I ran over to catch Primus. They opened with their standard “Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers.” Primus sounds amazing right now. They are on point and were a great addition to the Summer Camp lineup. By all accounts they stole the weekend with both a Gogol Bordello sit-in as well a version “The Other One” with Bob Weir. However I have to honestly say I left about halfway through the show in order to regroup at camp before late night in the barn. I’ve always known that you can’t see it all, and with a few overlapping sets, some hard decisions have to be made. It’s that way at every festival and Summer Camp is no exception. An old friend of mine who I reconnected with at SCamp this year said it best.

“A music festival isn’t about who you choose to see, it’s about who you choose to miss.” – Concert Joe

We headed back to camp midway through Primus to recharge and get ready for late night. Suddenly I remembered that Floodwood was playing a midnight set at the VIP bar. We headed over as they were sound checking and getting ready to play. This show ended up being one of my highlights of the entire weekend. It gave me a chance to focus on them with a much smaller audience than the night before. And it also became a big social event with Ian, BC, and Shane from Fort Collins, making it down. It really felt like a family affair. They invited Kris Norwak up on stage to close out their hour and suddenly it was time to head back up to the barn.

As we arrived we saw Cornmeal tuning up on stage. They were joined by all of Elephant Revival for a massive clusterpluck for the lucky crowd. It was yet another gigantic jam breaking out at Summer Camp for anyone who happened to pass by. Are we seeing a theme? We hung out until Elephant Revival left the stage to hit the road that night for another festival, and headed into the Red Barn for a much-anticipated set of Ha Ha The Moose.

Amy and I had been talking about this show since we say that it was on the line up. We knew we would be up late on Friday for the festive occasion. For those that don’t know Ha Ha features Dr. Guano, Jeff Von Kickass, and Sludge from Christmas Island. It was a bizarro show with the three of them donning bright orange prison jumpsuits, luchador masks, and giant moose ears like that of some odd fraternal organization. As they strutted out to the stage, fans began booing and cursing the band. I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I had stumbled upon something utterly silly like a master’s degree art project gone awry. After some back and forth between the audience and the band they opened with Poison’s, “Talk Dirty To Me.”

Ha Ha the Moose Live at Red Barn, Summercamp Late Night on May 26, 2012.

SET I: Talk Dirty To Me, 20lbs of Shit in a 2lb Bag, Ha Ha The Moose, Sexy And I Know It, Mr. Her, Looking Down The Barrel of A Gun> Apostrophe , 10 Things Vin’s Likely To Say, Thirsty Carbunckle, Rednecks Are Everywhere, In The Name of Freedom, Devil Toad, Fuck This Shit!

“This is the worst crowd I’ve ever seen in my life… I want to thank the Illinois Regional Correctional Facility for letting us out for the night.” – Dr. Guano

This was just a wild ride, and musically as you might expect it was top notch. However, I felt utterly compelled to boo. It was that type of blatantly silly experience and even though the hour was very late, I was dancing wildly. Their version of LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It,” had me in stitches as Guano belted out, “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle.” Commander Nad joined them on “10 Things Vin’s Most Likely To Say.” Perhaps the most hilarious song they preformed was “In The Name Of Freedom,” where Dr. Guano actually got off the stage and asked members of the crowd what they would do in the name of freedom.

Guano - “Barry my friend what would you do for freedom?”
Barry – “Obviously listen to this crap at four o’clock in the morning.”
Guano – “This is a god damn waste of time.”

So to sum it up this was a complete and utter waste of a Red Barn show and I can’t believe I stayed up all night to see this horrible excuse for a band. But seriously go see Ha Ha The Moose if you don’t value your time. We managed to get to bed after the set that stretched to 4 AM, content with the thought that we had two more days of Summer Camp ahead of us, and Ha Ha The Moose behind us.

Nicholas' Friday Photo Gallery


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