If I could quickly sum up Sunday’s experience it would be: dance party.
I peeled myself out of my tent around 9 (the latest I’d been able to sleep all weekend), got ready, and headed over to the Summer Camp offices to load up pictures and blog posts. When I got there, I found out that I’d been cleared to interview Michael Franti after his set that afternoon. I spent a few minutes freaking out with excitement, and got to work on prep.
Around 3 I met up with some buddies at moe.’s acoustic set on the Starshine Stage – so much fun! They kicked it off with St. Augustine, which is a favorite of mine, and the dance party began. At this point in the day, you could really tell that the heat index was well over 100 degrees, so a big thanks goes out to all you nice festies who were smart enough to bring Super Soakers to spray the crowd… we really appreciated it!
"I don't usually go to festivals, but when I do, I go to SUMMER CAMP!"
After moe., I took a short break to collect myself in time for the Franti interview, and headed over to his set. I spent about the first 3 songs in the VIP area (thinking I didn’t want to get too dirty or sweaty before meeting him), but quickly it became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen — dance party #2! We rushed to the middle of the crowd, kicked off our shoes, and got down to some amazing tunes. About halfway through, Franti popped up with a makeshift stage in the middle of the crowd, right near where we were standing. It could not have been more perfect; it was like out own little performance. That’s what I love about Franti – he brings people on stage, comes into the crowd, and generally makes every show feel like a community experience. After the set, I got my big interview, which will be posted on the site sometime this week… let’s just say, it was a dream come true and I am still smiling about it.
Next up, it was time for Pretty Lights. I’ve seen him before and although I’m a fan, we had planned just to stop for a little bit before moving over to Galactic. But once we were in the crowd, we knew we had to stay… dance party #3! Somehow, a group of people had managed to take over one of the golf carts and use it as a party platform… how this happened, I have no idea. But they looked like they were having a ball, so we joined in.
We walked over to Jane’s but stayed way in the back so we could scoot back to Moonshine quickly and catch moe.’s last set from up close. It was a perfect set and – as expected – dance party #4! We danced the night away sharing swigs from a bottle of Jameson and soaking in the last bits of Summer Camp… because, as always, it just went too fast.
Saturday morning the crowds began to rise, but I’d been up for hours thanks to sunrise kickball (see my other post on that!). I spent the morning writing and posting photos in the Summer Camp offices in the church, and by 1pm I was on my way…
First I headed over to the Starshine stage and stumbled upon a game of capture the flag for Field Day. Being a proud member of team Red and seeing that they were short some players, I jumped in to help. Unfortunately, the Red team was eliminated pretty early on when the Yellow team crept into our home base to get the flag… we’ll get ya next year, Yellow.
A few more steps, and I was at my first show of the day, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Their bio lists them as a “post-punk soul band”, and I think that’s a really accurate description. JC Brooks himself has stage presence like nothing I’ve ever seen… in 90 degree heat and a full-on suit, he kept the crowds entertained and dancing – it was a great way to start the day!
Next up, I met up with some of my buddies at the VIP bar for burgers, margaritas, and playing some bags.
Gov’t Mule had a really solid set at Moonshine, and the dust was really raging with the dancing. I like Mule, but I love Umphrey’s, so I left a little early to get a good spot and be ready to rage. For me, I actually like the second set of Umphrey’s the most, and they’d pretty much stole my heart when I heard Rush’s Tom Sawyer start pelting through the field.
All day I’d been looking forward to Brain Damaged Eggmen late night in the Red Barn, and boy it did not disappoint. It was a non-stop dance party and such a happy crowd.
Walking home through the darkness, I stumbled upon this artist working on a mural outside of the Soulshine Tent, and was reminded once again why Summer Camp is the happiest place on earth…
If you’re particularly good at staying up all night (or waking up really early), you can catch sunrise kickball on Saturday. The sun was already up at 6am when the group converged on the grass towards the back of the Sunshine Stage viewing area, and about 200 people were there and ready to play.
The game is ON!
I stayed mostly on the sidelines – the collective outfield, really – where you main job is to catch any ball that comes your way. The mad dash to get on deck to kick was pretty impressive each inning, and I’m not entirely sure how teams went (or really if anyone cared).
The real gem of kick ball is Ryan. Ready to rock in a red kimono and a speedo, he twirled his mustache before throwing out pitches (side note, he’s a really good pitcher). The crowd loves him, and couldn’t wait to show off their skills and earn a high-five or a hug from him for a job well done.
It’s not easy to make it to morning kickball, but if you ever find yourself stumbling from the Red Barn back to your campside and the sun is coming over the horizon, toss down a Red Bull and head over to kickball for an hour. You’ll be happy that you did!
The one thing that anyone should know about Summer Camp, is that it really starts on Thursday, not Friday. This year was no exception.
Things kicked off with a pretty insane windstorm. If you were camped in the forest, you probably didn’t feel it, but anyone in open air certainly felt like they were in Twister for a while there. Canopies were toppling over, tents falling to the ground, and dust at an all-time high. But once the music started, who cared?
My day kicked off with Appleseed Collective at the Starshine Stage. For an early set as people were just setting up camp, they really pulled a great and lively crowd. Then I headed to Zeta Zune at the Camping Stage. They were a little more rock than a lot of the jam & bluegrass bands around summer camp, which was a really nice change of pace. They handed out a 6 song sampler that I can’t wait to plug in on the ride home.
We headed back to the campsite for a while to see how our compound (we call it “Camp Jorts”) fared through the wind. Unfortunately, not well – but after putting things back up, we were on our way again! Fist to quickly catch James and the Devil with our new friends from Colorado that are camping nearby. James and the Devil were really great – sort of a rock & jazzy vibe with a sound that faintly makes you think of Sublime… but with a fiddle. Trust me, it works. You know what else works? The three band members that played shirtless – no women in the crowd had a problem with that one; they were adorable.
Finally, we knew that everyone had settled in once Digital Tape Machine started ramping up. DTM is an awesome project combining artists to create original electronic music. I’ve heard that they originally started the group to create music specifically to be picked up for video games, which is pretty cool… you can totally hear that as a possibility. Cornmeal’s set with pretty much flawless, and there’s nothing like a Cornmeal dance party to get you going. The glowsticks were out, the party in full force, and everyone was ready to rage all night.
Digital Tape Machine Thursday night
Moving into Friday, we can’t wait for the rest of the campers to arrive and get the real party going… it’s going to be a long day of back-to-back amazing sets, so keep an eye out for updates! Don’t forget to follow #scmf2012 for updates on Twitter or check out those information boards around the park.
Every year, it seems like Summer Camp is so far away, and then these last few weeks fly by in no time. Can you smell it? It’s almost here! Here are a few things I’m super excited for…
The entire Campfire Stage line-up. It is sick. Chicago Farmer, Greensky Bluegrass, and then Hot Buttered Rum in the wee hours of the morning? I just saw them at the Vic with Cornmeal on 4/20 and I truly fell in love with this band. They are not to be missed. For what is thought of as a smaller side stage, the Campfire Stage is pulling some pretty serious weight this year.
Weir, Robinson, and Greene Acoustic Trio. I am beyond excited to hear these guys collaborate, and I can’t wait to hear what kind of set they put together. Late afternoon on the Sunshine Stage is the perfect slot for this set. Also, if you don’t know Jackie Greene, click here and check him out – he’s (in my opinion) one of the best lyricists around right now.
Morning yoga at the Soulshine Stage. Confession: I’ve planned to do this every year and have never actually gone. I’ve even brought my yoga mat and everything… but let’s admit it, 10am is a tough time to be up and moving at a festival. Everyone that goes says it changes your day – gives you energy, and re-centers you for another day of raging and music. So this year, I will make it happen. (Probably.)
If this is your first time at Summer Camp, or a festival in general, here are some tips:
Don’t forget your ticket. Really. Every year I see sad people in line realizing they forgot it and are 3 hours from home. Triple check it, people.
Bring baby wipes. Showers are available, but baby wipes will save your life.
Print out the schedule! Yes, they give you one at the gates, but every year by Friday afternoon there are 10,000 people asking to see a schedule. I don’t know how thousands of them get lost every year, but they do – print out a backup, and you will be everyone’s best friend.
Forget about a map. You’ll figure out where you’re going in no time, and there will always be a friendly face to point you towards the next stage. Just let go, and you’ll figure it out.
You cannot pack enough of the following items: bottled water, glowsticks, hair rubber bands (for girls or long-haired boys), sunscreen, an extra pair of party pants (in case you dance yours into oblivion), and smiles.
If you forget any of the items mentioned above, there is a grocery store right down the block from Three Sisters Park. If you’re traveling from afar, I’d suggest stopping there for your ice & perishable food right before you head in to the greatest weekend of the year.
That’s all! So start packing and get pumped, because I have a feeling this might be the most epic Summer Camp yet…