It’s Monday morning, which means only one thing — Summer Camp Music Festival has officially ended. Oh yeah, but it’s Memorial Day too… so, I guess Monday morning means two things. Three, if you include ‘greatest shopping day of the year’ in there. Anyway, read all about the highlights (music! hippies! cheese quesadillas!) and lowlights, such as having to leave early due to a depressing bout of sun poisoning on my pathetically pale skin. (I’m not exaggerating – the color of face makeup I use is called ‘Alabaster’.) Enjoy, friends, as I take you through a journey of Summer Camp 2006:
Day One – Friday, May 26
After going to sleep at 2:45 a.m. and waking up at 4 a.m., my boyfriend Dan and I packed the car and hit the road, reaching Three Sisters Park a few hours later. I guess while packing I didn’t quite comprehend how difficult it would be to lug all of my shit from the parking lot to the campsites – good thing I brought a man with me. Seeing the different contraptions that people (we’ll refer to them as hippies from here on out) used to carry belongings was interesting, though. Two guys loaded everything they had onto tarps and dragged it off, while the majority of people had little red wagons, sleds, wheeled platforms or shopping carts.
After setting up camp, we waited in line for late-night show tickets. At this point, I realized that before I came, I didn’t plan on it being hot outside. Honestly, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. As the type of kid who spent her childhood sitting indoors while eating Koala Yummies and watching Rocko’s Modern Life, I was not prepared for the sweltering heat that Chillicothe had in store for me. I was looking forward to seeing Sunday’s late-night show, a “split-squad” performance with band members of Umphrey’s McGee and moe. mixed together, but sadly, tickets ran out way too quickly.
While hanging out at our tent and having an official “we’re roughing it” lunch of easy cheese and saltines, Dan and I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds of The Pnuma Trio, who had a jazz-funk sound complete with lively instrumentals. We later heard ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) who were impressive, and Chris Berry, whose heavy reggae sound
I wasn’t quite interested in. We began to wander to the vendors selling crafts, books, jewelry, stickers and all around hippie chotchkes and knick-knacks. I picked up some Tibetan freedom flags, Phish stickers and made Dan buy me a gold-painted “I love you” necklace out of a dollar bin. It’s fine that I forced him into the purchase, though – I’ve already convinced myself that it was his idea.
After the stereotypical hippie cuisine of grilled cheese, we went to see my favorite band, Umphrey’s McGee, play the first of their two performances that weekend. For the unfamiliar, they, as always, kicked ass. Their music is not only addictive but has lots of different levels to it due to the mixing of different styles and techniques. For the fans – I got to hear NTF, Tinkle’s and Ocean Billy in the same set. Woah.
moe., the headlining band, closed out the night. It’s not that I dislike them – I enjoy listening to the music, but they just don’t wow me. In my opinion, they’re a little too “jammy” for me. What I dig about Umphrey’s is that their songs can be easily distinguishable from one another, and both their vocals and instrumentals stick out. moe., on the other hand, doesn’t seem to leave a lasting impression. Regardless, they put on a great live show, right down to covering Radiohead and a phenomenal lights display. After catching the first set, Dan and I passed out from our collective lack of sleep, and waited for the next day to begin.
Day Two – Saturday, May 27
If you’ve ever gone camping, you probably know what it’s like to have your body wake up solely because it’s fucking hot inside your tent. Welcome to my Saturday morning. We woke up gross, sweaty and burnt to a crisp from the day before. Well, I have no one but myself to blame for the last one. As I packed sunscreen the night before I left, I found two bottles in my towel closet – a worn-out white one and a new tan and bronze-lettered one. Subconsciously, I grabbed the one that represented the color of skin I desired, only to have Dan laughingly point out later that it was SPF 8. Whoops.
Before we went into town to purchase ‘real’ sunscreen, I began to wipe my body down with wet-naps. As I looked at the spin-art pattern of dirt on them, I could only think one thing – how the HELL does the cast of Lost always look so good? My physical appearance has gone to shit in less than 24 hours, but after an eight-hour hike, Evangeline Lilly still looks hot. It’s so unfair.
After a drugstore visit, Subway pit-stop and a local garage sale run-by (I have an unhealthy addiction to thrifty t-shirts), Dan and I started the day off with Groovatron, who were, well, easy to groove to with their strong, jazzy feel. Next up was Elsinore, who played on the camping stage, which was a tiny stage surrounded by tents inside the woods. Their vocals reminded me a lot of a great, catchy local band called Santa, whom I really dig.
Afterward, I saw Drop Q, a band comprised of musicians in various other Chicago-based bands. On drums is the insanely talented Kris Myers, and after hearing only a few minutes of them I became an insta-fan who is already planning on coming down to Champaign to see their July 8 show. Cornmeal was up next, with a southern honkey-tonk feel. They had a large crowd, which was surprising at first for an early afternoon performer, but after listening, it was clear why.
We trekked over to the Main Stage next, where the extremely danceable Tea Leaf Green were playing. I suggest downloading their free podcast on iTunes; I’ve been addicted for the past hour to their guitar solos and overall groove. The rest of the day was rounded out with the pretty enjoyable Honkeytonk Homeslice, a surprisingly disappointing Rusted Root and an out-of-nowhere Andrew Bird. Dan wanted to go and support since he felt bad about Andrew Bird being an indie artist at the festival (I guess he identified with him, being an indie music fan amongst a sea of dreadlocked twenty-somethings,) but while his vocals were pleasing, his band fell short.
After getting Umphreys’ Jake Cinninger’s autograph and having a quick chat with Kris Myers about an interview we did for buzz, the rest of the night consisted of skipping out of a Keller Williams performance to eat delicious cheese quesadillas and attending moe.’s second of three nightly performances. I was a bit iffy at first about missing Keller, but after overhearing him open with his most popular song, “Freeker by the Speaker”, I realized I hadn’t missed anything – every show of his is exactly the same. Basically, I’ve seen him once; I’ve seen him ten times. I guess I’ve hopped off the Keller bandwagon, but I’m not sure yet if it’s for good.
Day Three – Sunday, May 28
After waking up at 5 a.m. to James Brown being blasted from a far away CD player, I’ve successfully concluded that hippies must be nocturnal – when I opened my tent window, people were everywhere, walking around and hanging out.
Following a few more desperate hours of sleep, the morning consisted of packing up the car and succumbing to corporate America while grabbing food at McDonalds for the first time in a year (eew,) which depressed me until the day’s music began. First up was The Brakes, a small band whose album Dan and I ended up buying. They are pretty much a rock version of one of my favorite bands called Down The Line, with vocals like a polished Jason Mraz or John Mayer.
Otiel and the Peacemakers were next, and even though it was about 95 degrees, they truly energized the audience. Dan enjoyed Glenn Cotche of Wilco, but I found him uninteresting, though he had quite a unique sound.
After a moe. poster signing and Umphrey’s McGee’s second show, Yonder Mountain String Band played. A few weeks ago,
I realized that I absolutely love Bluegrass music, and after listening to XM’s Bluegrass Junction for an hour on the way to Summer Camp, I have truly found my new favorite Bluegrass band. Only one problem – three days of hot sun on my glowingly white skin in combination with a lack of water made me a sad victim of a sun poisoning and dehydration hybrid, forcing us to head home only 20 minutes into YMSB’s show.
So, although my experience at Summer Camp came to an early close, I was exposed to a lot of great bands and suggest you check some of them out. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I conquered my deep-rooted hate of Port-a-Potties. I guess you really can get used to anything.