Summer Camp Music Festival: Saturday May 25th, 2013


Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn


No one was expecting what we woke up to on Saturday morning at the amazing-ness that is Summer Camp Music Festival. As I opened my eyes to the sounds of eggs cracking and bacon sizzling I realized what was going on outside was not going to be the most fun of experiences. Rain, rain, and more fucking rain was pounding down on us SCampers and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. Poncho salesmen were sprinting around the campgrounds making bundles of cash and the Coffee Wagon’s waiting line tripled within minutes. Heady pipe/crystal dealers packed up their homemade tables and vending areas while heading for the nearest pop-up tent they could find. I decided to stay in my tent to try and wait out the initial rainstorm, but after a few more hours of half-good sleep I awoke to even more rain, thunder, and now a bit of lightning. What would the staff of Summer Camp do? Would music be cancelled like two years prior? As my group sat at our campsite hoping for the rain to die off a general consensus was decided upon; we were going to have a good time no matter how bad the weather or festival grounds got…and oh my, did they both get pretty bad.

Cornmeal:

Allie Kral is by far the most popular member of the bluegrass/jam act known as Cornmeal and this was going to be her last show after ten years with the group. Emotions were running high as both crowd and band knew this not only was a special show due to Allie leaving, but the weather had cleared just a bit to provide us with a breath of fresh, warm, Midwest air for all of us festavarians to rage in. Ms. Kral and her Cornmeal band mates jumped from one song to the next with fast transitions and precise time changes. Playing with a guest guitarist for the entirety of the festival, Cornmeal didn’t seem to miss a beat at all as the crowd was jumping up and down from start to finish of their hour-long set. Allie ran all around the stage seeming to almost rip the strings off her fiddle at multiple points of the set, and her energy was very well received by the SCamp crowd. So why would Ms. Kral leave a project that she has been with for so long and had a good amount of success with?

In my opinion, it is because Allie has just grown too big for what Cornmeal can challenge and provide her with. Her talent has surpassed the other members of the band, and she needs to find a project where she can not only shine with her present abilities, but also find band mates who want/can teach her new techniques and songs. I fell in love with Allie at Summer Camp and her ability to have a good time no matter what project she is playing with. As this summer moves on be sure to catch Allie with whatever project she has at the time: Giraffe Dodgers, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Hot Buttered Rum, etc…because it truly is a treat to watch her fiddle the night away. Thank you for the ten years of Cornmeal memories Ms. Kral, they were fun and full of raging!

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe:

Funk, Funk, and some funkier Funk! That is what Karl Denson and his backing group of uber-talented musicians brings to the party with whatever time slot they are given. Playing on the Sunshine Stage provided KDTU with a very large audience and you could tell that Karl and his funkified friends were digging the crazy fans in attendance. Leading the charge from the front/center of the stage, Denson played numerous instruments throughout the performance including: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, tambourine and also provided some powerful vocals that had the crowd rocking from the first note he hit. Flanked on both sides by musicians with just as much talent as himself, Denson was able to delegate solo duties and make sure his team stayed with him at all times.

Brian Jordan, the KDTU lead guitarist is a joy to watch as he rips through funky jazz riffs, while also giving us some smooth vocals and groovy dance moves. The other leader of the band (In my opinion) is trumpet player Chris Littlefield, who along with Denson uses his screaming horn playing skills to thrill the crowd and definitely keep everyone paying attention. Along with the leaders of the band KDTU has a very respected rhythm section, which includes a man I met on this year’s past Jam Cruise, bassist Chris Stillwell. Stillwell is a very quiet and at times somewhat unnoticeable addition to any stage, but the funky bass lines he lays down are not at all shy in their nature. I have come to appreciate Stillwell over the many times I have seen KDTU now and his time in the Jam Room on Jam Cruise 11 only made me more fond of his playing style.

As Denson led the crowd with KDTU’s customary closing chant “We are the Tiny Universe” I couldn’t help myself from dancing with each and every beat. Even though the Sunshine Stage pit was getting muddier by the minute, my group of friends powered through with Karl and his funky friends leading the way. I always know that Denson will throw down wherever he goes, as it is becoming more and more evident for me with any project I see him in. I highly recommend you catch him with KDTU, The Greyboy All-stars, or any other project he chooses to sit-in with...it is guaranteed to be an awesome and funky time!

Umphrey’s McGee:

What could Notre Dame’s finest pull-out of their bag of musical magic tricks for night two of the festival (which seems to be becoming more and more of a hometown gig with each passing year)? Well let me tell you…Umphrey’s didn’t just decide to play music for us UMPhreaks of the world, they didn’t just throw a set list together and wing it (or so it seemed), and they most certainly did not let the weather have any affect on their performance. What Umphrey’s did on Saturday night of the 2013 Summer Camp can only be described as a fucking roller coaster ride to amazing-town in my humble opinion. It was out-of-control from start to finish, with each song working perfectly with the next to create a harmonious sound of rock and roll with a side helping of melting faces. It was absolutely ridiculous from song 1 to 17 and to say that this night of Umphrey’s changed my life might just not be enough.

Set one consisted of nine songs with a “Depth Charge” jazz odyssey introduction and a couple of older songs “Hurt Bird Bath” and “Linear” quickly there after. Then two of my favorite UMPH songs “Rocker Part 2” and “ Booth Love” joined the party with the addition of the Mad Dog Filthy Horns on the funkiness of “Booth”. The first cover of the night Nate Dogg’s “I Got Love” was followed by “Andy’s Last Beer” to conclude the horn section of the first set, but both songs seemed to be well received by the crowd and seeing Umphrey’s do a rap cover was an interesting choice for this amazing Saturday night. As first set closer UMPH chose the definite favorite of the first set and crowd pleasing “Wizard Burial Ground,” which in my campsite was one of the favorite songs of the entire weekend.

“Once they start that opening riff it is a straight non-stop metal head-banging rage fest until Joel drops in with an indescribable piano line….And of course it is complimented with a sweet explosion of lights!” This is how my buddy Sean described the closing sounds of the first set of UMPH’s second headlining night of this 2013 Summer Camp Music Festival. What a set! So many good song choices with great jams and it seemed as if the audience in attendance was very pleased with what their boys had just done. Could things get any better for us UMPhreaks?

Set One: Depth Charge > Hurt Bird Bath, The Linear > White Pickle > Rocker Part 2, Booth Love[1], I Got Love[1], Andy's Last Beer[1], Wizard Burial Ground

[1] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns
[2] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns; with It's About That Time (Miles Davis) jam

To say that things got better is a complete understatement. This next set of Umphrey’s McGee was not only my favorite set of music for the entire weekend, but it could be one of the best sets of music I have ever fucking witnessed in the 6 years I have been on the jamband scene. Leading off with an outrageous “Wappy Sprayberry” I could tell that Umphrey’s was going to bring the heat for their last set of SCamp’s Saturday night. “Sprayberry” led into one of my big-three I mentioned in my Friday review, “Ocean Billy,” and Umphrey’s did not disappoint with this rocking guitar shred-fest. During “Billy” my good friend Sean let me try out one of UMPH’s latest crowd-pleasing innovations, their Headphones and Snowcones concept. As I listened to Jake rip through the first few minutes of “Ocean Billy” with noise canceling headphones on I was taken aback by the actual idea of this new addition to the Umphrey’s fan experience. About 20 fans are given the opportunity with each show to have a live soundboard feed which only enhances the sound quality and the actual ability to hear each and every note the members of UMPH play on stage. An incredible use of technology and marketing, this Headphones and Snowcones concept will continue to grow with each and every live UMPH show. I wonder how long until they do an entire show using headphones only…weird!

After my favorite “Billy” got the crowd all in a frenzy, Umphrey’s played “Utopian Fir” with horns for the first time of their history. I can’t believe it took them this long to play “Fir” with horns as the crowd truly appreciated the complexity of the musical arrangement and applauded hugely as the songs final notes were played. As the various musicians flipped through their on-stage sheet music I wondered what could they possibly be going to throw at us now…well, as my knees buckled with the first notes of Beck’s “Debra” I quickly realized that this night was far from over. Using the incredible ability and powerful sound of Brendan Bayliss’ voice UMPH provided us with one of the most amazing and standout cover performances I have had the pleasure of seeing. Each high rising pitch change of Bayliss’ voice was greeted with massive applause and a large amount of stunned faces. As “Debra’s” harmony faded into the background UMPH got right back on the wagon with a very impressive “DBK > Final Word > DBK” sandwich which would make any true Umphrey’s fan cream their pants on most days.

Incredible. That is the only word I believe can be deemed worthy of the performance witnessed by us SCampers on night two of this years 2013 festival. Umphrey’s brought the heat in every way possible, and it seemed as if they were trying to blow our ears out with pure musical perfection song after song. For the encore a full and complete “Bridgeless” again brought the crowd to a rocking fever and was a nice cherry on top of an amazing Umphrey’s sundae experienced by us all at Saturday of Summer Camp 2013. Download this show…immediately! Borrow it from someone, steal it from your neighbor, buy it from the Umphrey’s website. I swear this show is an absolute must for UMPH fans everywhere and thank you Umphrey’s for one hell of a performance!

Set Two: Wappy Sprayberry > Ocean Billy, Utopian Fir[2] > Debra[1], Der Bluten Kat > Final Word > Der Bluten Kat

Encore: Bridgeless[1]

[1] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns
[2] with Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret horns; with It's About That Time (Miles Davis) jam

Sun Stereo (Here Comes the Sun, Sgt Pepper Parade):

Late-night performances are usually hit-or-miss for me. They can be very good, or just downright suck some fat wookie foot. For Saturday’s late night in the Soulshine Tent we were treated to the Urbana, Illinois band Sun Stereo and their take on many of the Beatle’s classics. Now before you stop reading this and scream in agony over yet another small time band taking on one of those bands that really shouldn’t be covered in any shape or form…let me explain. Sun Stereo not only had the clothes and look of the Beatles, but they had the feel, the sound, and by god did they have the girls screaming during their two-hour performance. I was thoroughly impressed with each member of the band and the addition of a full horn section halfway through the set made the songs even more glorious.

“Sun Stereo delivers a hybridization of organic and electronic elements with Beatlesque vocal harmonies, electronic soundscapes, new-age story book lyrics, and a funk your face off horn section. In the first year of existence, they have developed a fierce following and are quickly establishing themselves in the Midwest as a must see live show, reminiscent of a wedding reception on acid sans the chicken dance.” -Taken directly from the band’s facebook page (as I could not have described it any better) these Beatlesque gentlemen are truly a great act to have for any time of the day. Playing songs like “All You Need Is Love”, “Hey Jude”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”, and many more Sun Stereo had the SCamp crowd captivated from the very start and my friend Sean and I couldn’t help ourselves in how much we loved these guys. PLEASE, Sun Stereo come to Colorado and show off your skills to the music loving people I know would love you. And when they do come, do not miss it…it will be a great time.

Closing:

As the night grew darker and more rain fell from the skies, us SCampers had no real idea what was in store for us over the next 24 or so hours. With our clothes wet, bodies cold, and shoes destroyed we knew that this last day (Sunday) would be a struggle no matter what music we were looking forward to seeing. Ankle deep mud was everywhere, and numerous people had already fallen victim to the slippery sludge. As I sat with my Nebraska group discussing the possibilities of cancelled music, we could hear the loud pounding of thunder in the distance. Would this weather hold off so we could see the last of Umphrey’s, moe., and most importantly the Jedi Master himself, Mr. Trey Anastasio? As I climbed into my tent to retire for the evening I had a bad feeling that this weather was not going to leave us anytime soon, but I hoped that I was wrong as I really did not want to deal with anymore mud. I can deal with being wet (to a point), but being wet and muddy is just a miserable experience.

As I shut my eyes and listened to the water outside drenching my tarp I tried to drown out the sounds of dub-step, drunk people, and football talk to no avail. I knew Sunday was going to be a test of my personal festival stamina, and I really thought I was ready for anything. Oh man was I wrong…

Kevin's Saturday Photo Gallery

www.summercampfestival.com

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