Ever since I was old enough to understand music, I’ve dreamed of going to Woodstock. Something about an outdoor music festival has always sucked me in, I guess. The music, the people, not showering for an extensive period of time … it all seems so interesting, primitive and, most importantly, lost in today’s society.

Fortunately, outdoor music festivals are thriving yet again, even though they’re not part of the mainstream. In a few days, I will fill my “I-wish-I-could-have-gone-to-Woodstock” void by trekking down to Chillicothe, Ill., to attend the sixth annual Summer Camp Music Festival. With three (or four, if you want to set up camp early) days of live music and more than 45 bands, the festival’s three stages will have music all day, all night, and even into the morning with three optional late-night shows.

Ever since I found out I would be covering Summer Camp, I’ve been, for lack of a better term, stoked as hell. And since I have a one-track mind, it’s basically all I can think about, so I’ve decided to lay out the top five reasons why I’m excited to attend Summer Camp Music Festival. Hopefully you’ll agree with me and decide to head out for what is sure to be a kick-ass time. A fucking awesome time, in fact. So fun that I need to use obscenities to prove it. Anyway, here it goes:

Reason Number Five: Umphrey’s McGee

In all honesty, I would go all the way to Summer Camp Music Festival just to see this band. Well, they are my favorite … but it’s still true! What’s so interesting about the six guys in Umphrey’s McGee is that they’re so individually talented and strong at their respective instruments that when they come together, it’s actually mind-blowing. I recommend that if you ever have the opportunity to check them out live you do it, and if you’re going to be at Summer Camp, don’t even think about skipping over them. Umphrey’s kicks off the festival with a Friday night performance and then plays an hour-long set on Sunday afternoon, both of which should be invigorating shows with an energetic audience, like always. What’s sure to be a highlight is the Sunday late-night show, featuring two different “split squads” comprised of members from both Umphrey’s and moe., another headliner at the festival.

Reason Number Four: Choices, Choices, Choices

Three stages – enough said. If you don’t like a band you’re listening to or need a change of scenery, there’s always someone else to listen to and somewhere else to go. I checked out the schedule for the entire weekend, and whoever made it deserves a gold star. It is set up in such a way that when bands overlap, it’s usually only for a half-hour. This means that if you want to see two people who are playing at the same time, you’ll be able to catch a bit of both, instead of having to pick favorites.

Reason Number Three: Porta-Potties

I’m just fucking around; I hate these with a fiery passion and plan on not popping a squat the entire weekend. I was just checking to see if you’re still paying attention. But while we’re on the topic, does anyone else find it impossible to NOT look down the hole to see how shit-filled the plastic toilet bowl is? It’s like a car crash, a pregnant teen or an ugly couple groping each other’s awkward bodies – you just can’t help it, you have to look. Ah, I just remembered to add toilet paper to my what-to-pack list. Moving on …

Reason Number Two: The Lineup

Why am I excited for Summer Camp? Moe., Keller Williams, Rusted Root, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Disco Biscuits, Andrew Bird, Groovatron, Drop Q, Glenn Kotche of Wilco, Family Groove Company, Otiel & the Peacemakers, Elsinore and New Monsoon are just a few reasons why. The music festival has a large array of performers that I’ve always wanted to see and makes it convenient as hell to hear all of them over the course of three days. Summer Camp Festival provides a huge opportunity for a listener to hear many bands over a short period of time in a great location. It’s perfect for a true fan of music.

Reason Number One: Camping Out

When I was younger, I attended an overnight camp – an overnight camp with electricity in our newly-built cabins, an air-conditioned gym and field trips to Wisconsin Dells’ hot spots every week. However, to show us what roughin’ it was really like, there was always a required, annual over-nighter that every girl absolutely hated, dreaded and refused to go on. (Unfortunately, neither a faked illness nor a cabin protest could keep us from attending. But we still tried.) The intensity of the protests varied with age, though in sixth grade, we camped across the lake, which was fine. By eighth grade, we were at a campsite only a bus ride away, which wasn’t so bad. However, sophomore year brought an infamous canoe trip that, well … ended girls’ canoe trips forever at camp. The tour guides, in addition to basically reading a Wisconsin state map upside down, heavily overestimated the strength of a canoe powered by 16-year-old girls, and after eight hours of intensive paddling and Lamaze-like encouragement to “PUSH!!!!”, we never made it to our destination and set up camp on a small hill that flooded almost everything by morning. Now, this raises a more than obvious question – why am I so excited to camp out? One reason, and one reason only – times have changed. Now that I’m older and incredibly busy, the only opportunity I have to go outside usually consists of walking to and from my car. It will be a wonderful change of pace to be able to live outdoors for a little while instead of inside my insanely boring home in suburbia. The last time I camped out was a couple of years ago between Phish shows, and let me tell you – waking up to your neighbors having a jam session and wishing you a good morning is a lot better than a rising tide. I’m ecstatic to stay at a campsite full of people from all different walks of life who are all there for the same reason – to listen to good, live music. And no canoe trip, regardless of how traumatic, can ruin that.

See you at Summer Camp!

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