This is the story told by a girl who survived the Chicago Phish shows that took place in July of 2013.
I was starting to get stuck in a rut called being an adult. My day to day activities had become monotonous and I kind of preferred it that way. I definitely wasn’t prepared for one of the craziest weekends of my life.
This past summer Phish came to my hometown for a three night run of shows at Northerly Island Pavilion in downtown Chicago. I conveniently got hooked up with a small studio apartment less than a mile from the venue, right on Michigan Ave. This crash pad was normally used to house college kids but since it was July, most of the students were on summer break. It was fully furnished with a stiff bed, electric stove, and mini fridge that smelled like it had been unplugged and unopened for over a month.
When I walked through the door I cracked open a bottle of rum and officially started to pregame. Time was of the essence so I transferred my rum and coke to a water bottle and departed for the venue. The arctic blast coming from the vents inside the apartment building almost made me forget it was over 90 degrees outside. I stepped out into the sweltery Chicago afternoon and embarked on my journey through Grant Park.
I passed Museum Campus and entered a virtually nonexistent parking lot scene, which was usually popping with activity before a Phish show. Some folks will come to the lot with no intention of even going into the show, while others will come without a ticket in hopes of getting in for free. This situation is called a “miracle.” I have never personally experienced a miracle but, then again, I always buy my tickets in advance.
I ventured towards the pavilion in search of my friends and it occurred to me just how odd Northerly Island was set up. It’s basically a park next to the beach right on Lake Michigan, in the heart of downtown Chicago. The picnic area next to the beach had a strange mix of families barbecuing and dirty looking hippies with dirty looking dogs littering the grass. Their tie dyed t-shirts made them stick out like a sore thumb compared to the normal families enjoying the downtown beach on a hot summer day.
There was a refreshing breeze coming in off the lake so I took a moment to cool off and soak in the scene.
I suddenly heard a voice calling from around a tree, “Hey girl!”
It was my friend, Sparkle Ass, walking up to me with half a bottle of gin in her hand. She is the type of girl that likes to party and her crew found a shaded spot under a tree where they had been rocking a gin bucket all afternoon. The elephant shaped bucket was filled with a concoction that Sparkle Ass served right into my mouth with a turkey baster, spilling it all over her zebra print Keds in the process. I could feel the alcohol scorch my throat the second I swallowed and I exhaled with a “WOW” as I felt gin violate every corner of my mouth.
Within 10 minutes meeting up, Sparkle Ass got me drunk and then glitter bombed me. A glitter bomb is when someone pours a whole bottle of glitter on you at once. It’s pretty obvious when you are the victim of a glitter bomb because you look like a walking, talking disco ball. This wasn’t how I wanted to start my weekend, especially because I hate everything about glitter. Sparkle Ass laughed hysterically as she bombed me, probably because I fell into her trap so perfectly. I guess I should have expected that from her.
We eventually found our way inside the venue and claimed our space on the lawn with two sheets Sparkle Ass and I brought from home. Her sheet had a pattern with tiny pieces of fruit on it and mine was just plain white. The lawn was enormous and flat, so seeing the stage was nearly impossible.
When Phish finally went on, the $4 beers began to flow like the Chicago River. I was already pretty tipsy after drinking rum and cokes all afternoon and downing a few turkey basters full of gin, but now I was getting sloppy. My motor skills deteriorated the more intoxicated I became and lots of beer spilled on my white sheet during Phish’s first set, but I didn’t seem to notice at the time.
Somehow my good friend Rico found me and an epic dance party was had by all. At least that was what I was told. To be completely honest, I don’t really remember the first set or set break, but two songs into the second set they called for an evacuation of the venue. I do remember that.
It didn’t look like a storm was coming from where we were standing so we sat down on our beer stained sheets in hopes it was a false alarm. We waited about ten more minutes before we noticed an ugly grey cloud hovering over the Chicago skyline. Finally, we decided to take the band’s advice to run for cover. I lost Sparkle Ass and the rest of the crew almost immediately after leaving the venue. Luckily, Rico and I got to the parking garage as buckets of water began to fall from the sky.
Our original plan was to hit up a late night show after Phish, but that was hours away. So we sailed over to our friends’ apartment on the other side of town to kill some time.
This storm was no joke and I began to understand why they evacuated the Phish concert. All the rain resulted in a flash flood, causing Damen Avenue to turn into a small stream. Rico parked his car and we hastily crossed the street only to wait ten minutes in the rain for our friends to unlock their door. We entered the second story apartment soaking wet and then realized we had just walked into madhouse…
Four people were sitting on a 1960′s powder blue leather couch that was pulled up to the dining room table. The rest of the group was sitting on folding chairs and bar stools opposite them. The dining room was separated from the living room by a fireplace that had probably never been used before and the bar stools were from large alcove just off the living room that housed a homemade bar. Unframed concert posters covered the walls of the apartment, not a single one hung straight or centered, which drove me crazy!
All of the lights were off and there was a musty smell in the air. One of the dudes who lived there was dressed as Hunter S. Thompson and, since this was his place, he insisted on having his impressive speakers “turned up to eleven.” His roommate, Birdman, was sitting on the corner of the blue couch playing with a lamp’s dimmer switch, causing the room to light up and then go completely dark with just a swipe of his finger. Since this was the only source of light in the whole apartment everyone had their eyes glued to him, laughing hysterically.
I interrupted this odd scene, ”What’s going on here?” I yelled over the music.
To which the dimly lit corner screamed back, “Ambiance.”
The rest of the room exploded in laughter.
I was starting to lose my buzz so I made my way to the fridge to get a beer. That’s when I noticed a strange black dog had followed me into the kitchen. I thought to myself, “Where did you come from?” He cocked his head to the side when I opened the fridge as if he wanted to ask me the same question.
The dog was an older mutt with shaggy hair and he was obviously the source of the apartment’s strange smell. I wondered if they found him on the street earlier that night and maybe they rescued him from the storm. The thought crossed my mind to ask my friends about the dog but I already knew questions were pointless.
One of my good friends, Chaz, appeared out of nowhere. Actually, he was there the whole time but I didn’t recognize him since he was wearing a mullet wig that perfectly matched his grizzly beard. The hairpiece transformed his personality into an 80′s rock god who had mastered the art of air guitar. He discovered the wig in Hunter S. Thompson’s costume chest and informed me that for the rest of the weekend he would be known as Mullet Man.
Birdman annoyingly focused his lamp on me like a spotlight and inquired about Phish’s Saturday show. It just so happened to be sold out and I had an extra ticket. Sparkle Ass was hooking me up with a ticket upgrade from the lawn to the floor. So I promised Birdman my extra ticket and we made plans to meet up the next day in order to complete our transaction.
Things started to fall apart after that. LCD Soundsystem was blaring in the background and the speakers were making more noise than music. Birdman had given up on controlling the room’s “ambiance” by turning the lamp off completely and the rest of the room didn’t seem to mind sitting in the dark, but I did. Rico was making himself comfortable by laying with the strange dog on the floor while the rest of the group continued with their uncontrollable laughter.
I felt like I was in an alternative universe. I could only take so much before I convinced Rico to get off the floor so we could head to the late night show. We finally escaped the chaos and headed back out into the stormy Chicago night.
Saturday was challenging. Early in the day Phish announced they were making up for Friday’s cancelled show by giving us three sets of music that night. Therefore, the show had to start promptly at 7pm in order to fit it all in.
After a busy day of running around the city, I finally showed up to Northerly Island around 6pm. I made my way towards the venue hoping to run into Sparkle Ass but ended up hanging out on a grassy area next to the beach by myself.
The show was sold out and you could tell. People everywhere were looking for tickets and scalpers were making a killing. At one point I witnessed a very smooth talking guy with a Grateful Dead t-shirt hold a full blown auction right next to the box office. The highest bidder ended up paying $225 for a lawn ticket that originally cost $50.
I kept trying to get a hold of Sparkle Ass because she still had my floor ticket but for some reason she hadn’t answered her phone or returned my texts all afternoon. It was nearly a half hour before the show when she finally responded.
Her text infromed me she was getting there late and that she no longer had an extra ticket for me. My stomach sank and I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. The odds of me finding a ticket at this point were practically nonexistent.
I thought about just keeping my original ticket but I just couldn’t leave Birdman high and dry like that. Handing it over to him was extremely painful when the time finally came. I asked him and Hunter S. Thompson to keep a lookout for extra tickets as they ventured into the venue but felt like they weren’t really in the right state of mind to understand exactly what I was asking them to do.
So, there I was with my finger in the air as 30,000 people passed me on their way into the show. The shame of looking like an unprepared concert goer was unbearable. I’ve never been the type of girl to expect a miracle but I still couldn’t help but pray for one.
I could hear the sold out crowd scream as Phish took the stage. The first couple songs passed and I began to lose all hope of ever getting into the show that night. I could feel my nerves fray as time dragged on. Sparkle Ass kept texting me how sorry she was, draining my phone’s battery in the process. There was a long story about getting kicked out of a hotel, friends getting arrested, and having her dad come pick her up from the side of the road. She told me she would help me find a ticket once she got there but that wouldn’t be for quite awhile.
A half hour of torture passed before she instructed me go to the gate because someone found me a ticket.
I stood by the gate for ten minutes before a gypsy looking girl with dread locks approached me and asked if I knew Sparkle Ass. She looked right through me like I was wasting her time, which made me feel small and helpless. It wasn’t until she handed me the ticket that she informed me it cost $200. Gulp. I only had $120 on me and that was all my cash for the weekend. Maybe she felt bad for me or maybe she was just trying to take me for everything I had, either way, she took all my money and I got into the show.
All my friends were out in the lawn, somewhere, but my overpriced ticket was for the floor. My phone was dead and I didn’t have enough cash to even buy a beer. I considered trying to get really close to the stage, but for some reason I felt like the lawn was where I needed to be. Besides, I could still see the show’s awesome lights, which looked like it could land the Mothership.
So I dove into the sea of lawn people to find my crew. If I ended up raging the show alone, so be it. The second I heard “Lawn Boy’s” bass line start, I knew I had made the right decision. The crowd was swaying to Page’s lounge act voice and I kicked off my shoes so I could feel grass between my toes. This was where I was supposed to be.
It wasn’t long before Hunter S. Thompson found me. He was wearing a kimono and had a small collapsible cooler tied around his waste. He had lost all our friends when the show started and was happy to see my familiar face. We were pretty far back on the lawn which ended up being the perfect spot to find people. One by one our friends walked past us on their way to the portapotties. First it was Birdman, still flying high from earlier, then Rico and Mullet Man. I explained the ridiculous process of getting into the show and Rico felt so bad he bought me a beer.
That was when I realized I was completely sober. I hadn’t taken any time to enjoy myself since waking up that morning. Spinning in circles like a flower child usually isn’t my thing, but at this particular Phish show, it just seemed necessary. The panic attack I had earlier was still lingering in my system and I needed to centrifuge all the crazy crap that had been piling on my shoulders. The rest of my crew was getting down too. Mullet man was rocking his air guitar, Birdman was flailing his arms in the air like a bird, and Hunter S. Thompson was thrusting his hips into the back of his fanny pack cooler. Sparkle Ass was still nowhere to be found.
It rained a bit during the show’s second set but it was nothing compared to the storm that slammed the city the night before. The second set break aligned perfectly with Chicago’s weekly fireworks show and it seemed like the night was finally coming together.
Phish played a total of 27 songs within three sets of music that night. Even though I missed the first four songs and my ticket was double face value, I still got to enjoy a full night of phishing. It could have been a lot worse too, I mean, I could have never got into the show in the first place, right?
When the concert was over, everyone vacated the venue and the streets of Chicago filled with a ridiculously rowdy crowd. People were dancing in the sprinklers in front of the Field Museum like little children playing in the rain. They twirled in circles while high school kids played the drums with upside down buckets on sidewalk next to the grass.
Mullet Man disappeared as soon as we left the show and Rico headed home to the suburbs. Hunter S. Thompson and Birdman were going to a yacht party that set sail from Navy Pier so we parted ways when we got to Lake Shore Drive.
I was on my way to the other side of town for an after party at the Hard Rock Cafe. I was in dire need of an easy atmosphere for the rest of my evening and my feet were killing me. Unfortunately, I was still broke and was forced to walk the four miles through downtown Chicago by myself.
I embarked on my journey through Grant Park alone but it wasn’t long before I ran into Mullet Man. His air guitar had turned into an air bass and he was vocally producing the most epic basslines he could think of. Mullet Man said he was down to join me for the late night after party and I was glad I didn’t have to walk through Grant Park by myself so late at night.
I still had a half bottle of rum at my weekend apartment, which was on the way to the Hard Rock. I insisted we stop there even though Mullet Man was already wasted. Looking back, I guess I was being a bit selfish when I let him to finish the rest of that bottle of rum, I just wanted to get that nasty mullet off his head before going back out in public.
I finally convinced Mullet Man to ditch the wig and we headed back out into the Chicago night. We both enjoyed a chilled out show at the Hard Rock Cafe with just enough people to make the room feel cozy. It seemed like the perfect setting after another long evening full of insanity.
I awoke Sunday morning feeling defeated. I sent a nasty text message to Sparkle Ass about her being a flake and it helped me feel a little better, but I couldn’t deny that this weekend was starting to kick my ass. Although my crash pad was convenient, I looked forward to sleeping in my comfy apartment in the middle of nowhere special.
For the last day of Phish I signed up to take a party bus to the show that was organized by my favorite bartender, Mr. Brown. A crew of his 50 favorite patrons met up at the bar around 4pm and, after a few cocktails, we loaded our fancy air conditioned bus with coolers full of beer before we hit the road for Phish.
All the bus riders agreed to meet by a water fountain in front of the parking lot after the show. We then started walking towards the venue together but almost immediately got split up. So once again I was all by myself, but at this point in the weekend, I almost preferred it that way.
I eventually ran into Mullet Man and Rico at the park near the beach. The pregame was in full swing and the temperature had cooled off quite a bit since Friday. It almost felt like we were at a picnic, only instead of lemonade we were sipping on a bottle of Fireball. I spread out my sheet so we could kick off our shoes while we waited for Birdman and Hunter S. Thompson to get there. Their yacht party didn’t end until the sun came up that morning, so they were running a bit hehind schedule that Sunday.
They finally showed just before the show started. We all walked into the venue together and found a nice little spot on the lawn to lay down my sheet. When the first set started, I couldn’t help notice the enormous rain drops that began to fall from the sky. They actually stung me with surprise when they hit my skin. I looked up and wondered what kind of evening was in store for us.
The weather started to pick up and Phish responded to Mother Nature with a saucy “Bathtub Gin” followed by a furious “Wilson.” Everyone danced through the rain, even as hail fell from the sky, reminding me of the folks that danced in the sprinklers outside the Field Museum the night before.
Eventually everyone was soaked to the bone, but the show still went on. I figured they would cancel the concert if it was too dangerous to be outside, but I had never been stuck in weather like that for so long before. By the time Phish went into “Antelope,” it was a torrential downpour. Set break finally came and we were all drenched.
One by one our group gave up standing around and just sat in the puddle that had formed on top of my white sheet. The set break seemed to last forever and the lawn eventually turned into a swamp. I was cold, the type of cold you can only feel when you are soaking wet and I just couldn’t seem to shake the shivers. My hair was sopping wet and sticking to my face. At least when the band was playing I was able to dance off some of the rain, but now I was forced to just sit, and soak in a puddle.
This wasn’t fun anymore.
I finally gave up on Phish and I tried to convince my crew to leave the show. Most of them were drunk and didn’t care if we stayed or left, but Rico was being stubborn. He was convinced Phish would still play their last set of the weekend, we just had to wait out the storm. He then took his shirt off and rang it out like a wash towel.
We eventually abandoned my sheet and ventured towards the portapotties. That’s when Birdman noticed how easy it would be to sneak under one of the beer tents in order to get out of the rain. Salvation! We found a corner in the back of the tent where we could squeeze in without getting caught. So what if we looked like refugees, at least we were somewhere dry. I noticed my fingers had turned to prunes as I pulled up the weather app on my iphone. Luckily, we only had about ten more minutes until the storm would pass.
When the rain finally let up, we vacated the beer tent in hopes Phish’s second set would soon start. Finding the white sheet I left behind seemed pointless and I already came to terms with giving it up as a sacrifice to Mother Nature.
Only half of the crowd stuck around for the last set of the weekend and, after enduring the hour long set break, those of us that weathered the storm got a five song set that was straight fire. The music engulfed us with the warmth of a well crafted setlist and you could tell Phish was thankful for the fans who soldiered through an epic storm just to see them play a few tunes.
When the song “Harpua” started the crowd went BONKERS! I couldn’t believe my ears, this was what we were waiting for. Elbows and fists went flying and a shit eating grin was on every face. Phish blessed us with a gem of a song they hadn’t played in over two years. In fact, they’ve only busted it out a handful of times in the last 20 years!
By the time the show was over, I was extremely exhausted, not to mention wet and cold. When I finally got to the meeting spot for the bus back to the bar, Mr. Brown was the only other person there. He was beaming with joy after hearing “Harpua” and had no clue where any of the other bus riders were at. We finally got in contact with the group only to find out they were already on the bus. These fools left the show way before the second set even started and completely missed “Harpua.” Mr. Brown was suddenly disgusted and informed them they had missed the best part of the night.
During our walk back to the bus, Mr. Brown entertained me with a story about Phish’s Big Cypress New Years Eve show back in 1999. He had been to well over 100 Phish shows and claimed that was his most memorable show he’d been to. By the time we got to the party bus, all the coolers were empty and everyone who left the show early was drunk, dry, and ready to hit the road.
I looked out the window as we cruised down Lake Shore Drive and couldn’t help but smile. Even though I was brought to my breaking point, I was glad I waited out the storm and never followed through with my intention of leaving the show before it was over. Quitters are losers and, in all honesty, the “Harpua” alone was worth the trouble. It is funny how good music can turn life’s worse experiences into something meaningful. Now that my phishing weekend is long over, I felt I had to share my experience with my Summer Camp community. That weekend was one for the books and I learned a pretty important lesson about surrendering to the flow.
Indianapolis holds a special place in Umphrey’s McGee history. The band loves playing this city and they always have a great turnout from both fans and family. STS9, on the other had, capitalized on an opportunity to expand their fan base on STUMP tour by infiltrating Umph territory and impressing everyone with a stellar performance in the midst of a beautiful sun set.
I arrived in Indy early Friday afternoon, so early I was able to park right next to the venue just in time to catch Umphrey’s sound check. Security wasn’t posted up at the gates just yet so I walked right into the venue to enjoy my own private show. The best part was, no one really seemed to care I was there because they were too busy preparing for a flawless show at this imaculate outdoor venue.
After STS9′s sound check I decided to explore White River State Park, which is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It is surrounded by Indiana University, museums, and even a zoo. I spent the rest of my afternoon walking around the park and came back to the venue just in time for the gates to open.
It wasn’t long before Up Until Now kicked off the festivities. This DJ has a funky dance party sound with a lot of hip hop elements added to the mix. He is pretty high energy and progressive so it was strange seeing him throw down when the sun was still high in the sky. He entertained the crowd as they ventured into the venue, picked up their free lawn chairs, and found themselves a comfortable spot on the grass. The lights were ineffective due to the sun and the small crowd of people who made it to the show that early in the day seemed distracted with getting shwilled and eating corndogs.
I took some time to check out the merch booth and I noticed quite a bit of new swag made specially for STUMP tour. Each show actually has a limited edition pin you could pick up along with STUMP summer tour t-shirts and posters. Both bands also had some pretty fly new gear to showcase on this tour like Umph’s ”Rage.Rest.Repeat” belts and STS9′s neon sunglasses.
Everyone started to settle in The Lawn once STS9 finally took the stage…
Set 1: STS9
STS9 kicked off night 2 of the 14 show tour with a laid back tune called “Grizzly.” Since this was an outdoor venue and the sun was still up, they had to adjust to playing in the daylight, something these festival headliners rarely experience these days.
Saxton’s LED screens provided a psychedelic backdrop for the band and their set eventually cracked open with energy. The treat of the set was “From Now On.” This song rarely makes in into the rotation these days and it was great to see the band get excited to be there, in that specific moment in time.
The crowd started to fill in and by the end of the set the lawn was packed with people. The sun began to set behind the stage and STS9 played a fantastic, yet safe show for a crowd of mostly Umprhey’s fans. They ended with F Word and 20-12, leaving us all on the edge of our lawn chairs with anticipation for the night’s headliners, Umprehy’s McGee.
Grizzly, Equinox, EHM, Inspire Strikes Back, From Now On, Metameme, Kaya, Grow, What Is Love?, Hidden Hand Hidden Fist, Really What?, Rent, F Word, 20-12
Set 2: Umph
The crowd exploded with excitement when Umphrey’s McGee finally took the stage for the second set of the evening. There was at least twice as many people at the Indianapolis show compared to the night before in Louisville and the majority were there to watch Umphrey’s epicness unfold.
The set began with a polished “Believe the Lie” right into a powerful ”Words.” You could tell right off the bat Umph was aiming high with this show. I was right in the thick of it, not too far from the rail when “Hurt Bird Bath” started. I could sense an insane energy percolate through the crowd as the song progressed through its motions. By the time the lights matched the energy of the music I thought I was going to go insane. I moved farther back for a better view of the lights and to give myself some space to clear my mind. For a short girl like me, The Lawn offers great lines of sight no matter where you are standing. Therefore, it really didn’t matter where I ended up at this point in the evening, so long as I could hear the beautiful music and see the pretty lights.
Towards the end of the last set the baseball stadium next to White River State Park had an amazing fireworks show, coinciding perfectly with Umph’s “Mulche’s Odyssey.” The song seemed to last forever and I was completely torn between watching the explosions next door and Waful’s light show. Let’s just say Indiana sure knows a thing or two about blowing things up!
Umphey’s encore ended the night on a high note. During “Preabmle”>”Mantis (Ghetts)” Umph threw in some STS9 flavor by teasing “Ramone & Emiglio.” Joel then came out blazing on vocals for Pink Floyd’s ”In the Flesh” before David Phipps joined him on keys. David Murphy also replaced Ryan Stasik on bass as the group journeyed into ”Another Brick in the Wall.” Witnessing this switchup made the crowd go absolutely bonkers and an epic dance party was had by all….
Believe the Lie > Words, Hurt Bird Bath, Deeper > Cemetery Walk, Cemetery Walk II, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Mulche’s Odyssey, The Floor
Encore: Preamble > Mantis Ghetts > In the Flesh > Another Brick in the Wall
 with Ramone & Emiglio (STS9) tease  with Dave Murphy replacing Ryan and David Phipps joining Joel
My journey to the land of STUMP started with a four and a half hour drive from Chicago to Louisville, KY. The last time I was in this beautiful city was when Umphrey’s McGee and Conspirator closed out an early fall tour at the Iroquois Amphitheater last September. This time around Umph went bit more classy by booking in one of the swankiest venues in town and asking the ever sophisticated STS9 to join them on the road.
The first show of tour took place at the immaculate Louisville Palace Theater. When you walk through the grand entrance of this venue you are immediately dazzled by the intricate artwork on the walls and ceiling. There is a lounge type bar on one side of the main lobby and the theater is on the other side.
I was lucky to score front row tickets for the assigned seating show and was glad I didn’t have deal with a bunch of drunk kids trying to steal my space on the rail. In fact, there was no rail, there wasn’t even a photo pit at the Palace. The only thing between me and the band was the stage. This was the first time I have ever been so close to the magic and it felt surreal.
I got to my seat a few notes into ”Push the Pig,” a lyrically underrated tune that has been part of Umphrey’s regular rotation for over a decade. The set seamlessly segued into the first part of “1348″ then “2×2,” taking us on a musical journey down the number line. A massive “DBK” sandwiched “Amble On,” a newer tune originating from a Jimmy Stewart fans voted to hear again at this year’s Umbowl. This “DBK” throw down contained just enough stop and go action to get everyone’s hips shaking and embodied all that good-time, fun-loving energy Umph is known for.
After “DBK” Bayliss announced a Police cover was about to get thrown in the mix and I couldn’t help hope for “Walking on the Moon.” It is a song I have been chasing for over 80 Umph shows, but on this specific night we got “Miss Grandanko.” I can’t really complain since I love the Police and it is another cover I have never heard them play before this show, but I couldn’t help feel a bit disappointed those first notes.
The guy next to me participated in the Headphones and Snowcones upgrade and he let me borrow his headphones for “FF>Puppet Strings.” Let me be the first to say that this experience was completely out of this world! The sound coming through the headphones was perfect, even with being in the first row. I was amazed at how clear Joel’s keys sounded and I noticed notes and tones I just couldn’t hear when they were blasting along side Brendan and Pony’s amps.
The end of the Umph’s Louisville set seemed like one long dance party with segues that didn’t end until they finished “1348.” It was almost like they were preparing us for the STS9 show that followed and it was the perfect way to kick off tour.
Umph Setlist :
Push the Pig > 1348 > 2×2, Der Bluten Kat > Amble On > Der Bluten Kat, Miss Gradenko, FF > Puppet String, The Triple Wide > (Don’t Fear) The Reaper > The Triple Wide -> 1348
 incomplete  with Roundabout (YES) teases  one verse
I noticed members of STS9 watching the end of Umph’s set from the side of the stage and I could tell they were excited to see their fans get on the headphones bandwagon. This was the first time this technology has been available for any other band besides Umphrey’s and for any non-seasoned live act out there, it could be risky. There is no room for flaws when you have 50 people in the audience intently listening to every note every band member is playing. Luckily, Tribe was ready for this challenge.
STS9 filled their set with some old school gems that tugged at this band’s musical roots. Songs like “Ramone & Emiglio,” ”Moon Socket,” and “Kamuy” brought me back to when I first fell in love with Sound Tribe. Murph’s bass vibrated right through me and seemed to tune the whole room into the same wavelength.
The energy of the set was fairly relaxed and free flowing. I have never had the opportunity to see STS9 this up close and personal and I couldn’t help notice elements of jazz in their approach to jamming. While I’ve always described their sound as electronic, I found myself zoned in on the artistic way Hunter Brown played his guitar and the ambient background energy supplied by percussionist Jeffree Lerner. The blending of all the individual parts was what created a beautiful fusion in each song STS9 played. I found myself mesmerized by the free flowing energy between every member of the band, like they were all locked in on the same sound expanding vision.
I must say that the absolute highlight of the evening for me was “And Some Are Angels…” Ever since I heard this song’s version on Axe the Winery, it has taken on a totally different meaning. Axe the Winery was an Axe the Cables event where STS9 stripped away their electronic elements for an entire show in order to showcase their sound in its most raw form, completely changing my perception of Sound Tribe’s music in the process.
The encore for the Louisville show was one for the books. Joel Cummings had warned us there would be some impressive sit ins but I don’t think I was expecting guitarist Jake Cinninger came out with STS9 and jam out the Rolling Stone’s ”Sympathy for the Devil.” The whole audience sang along with Jake has he blew the roof off the Louisville Palace Theater before STS9 finally closed out the night with “When the Dust Settles.”
Intro, Ramone & Emiglio, Moon Socket, Bigs > One Two Three, And Some Are Angels…, Blu Mood, March, Kamuy, Simulator, Arigato, Kabuki, Sympathy for the Devil*, When the Dust Settles *w/ Jake from Umphrey’s McGee
It was strange for most of the people in the room to only see one set from each band and though they were long sets, there was still a lack of fulfillment with each. Luckily, I still had two more shows ahead of me, which was more than enough to get my fix.
It’s been quite a while since Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 co-headlined a tour together. These bands have changed a lot over the last 6 years in both music production and with their party boy lifestyles. This evolutionary progress has created two mega beasts in the world of jambands and time has come for these titans to clash once more.
Tribe and Umphrey’s will be kicking off an epic summer tour in Louisville, KY. Then they head north for a handful of shows in the Midwest before venturing back to the Dirty South. Depending on the city, each band will switch off who opens or closes each night of tour. Collaborations between the two groups are highly anticipated and according to keyboardist Joel Cumming’s, there is guaranteed to be some impressive sit-ins along the way.
The venues for these shows are amazing and offer an unique opportunity for growth with each band. The co-headlining bill allows them to play bigger venues in front of larger crowds. The shows’ aesthetic will be even more elevated by combining two very impressive light rigs for one bad ass visual experience.
Umphrey’s newest nerdy endeavor, Headphones and Snowcones, gives audience members wireless headphones during the show, where they can listen to crystal clear audio live, straight from the mixing board to their eardrums. Yeah, that’s what’s up…
Courtesy of Umphreys.com
Besides Umph, this is the first time any other band will try Headphones and Snowcones during a live show. It is one of the most uniquely tailored concert experiences for any sound nerd out there and it will be available at all 14 shows for an extra 50 bucks a pop.
If you can’t make it to any of these shows, you are in luck! The bands are working on couch tour dates so peeps can watch the magic in the comfort of their own homes, where wearing pants is completely optional! The first couch tour date is set for Chicago on August 17th and hopefully more will come as the tour continues.
Hopefully this circus is stopping in a city near you… or else GET IN THE VAN because this tour is going to RAGE!
You can also follow my blog along the way! I will be hitting up the first three shows of this tour; Louisville, Indianapolis, and Chicago. I want to give my fellow campers a rundown on just how awesome each night unfolds. I’m also hoping to catch some late night shows featuring some of my favorite Summer Camp regulars like Cosby Sweater in Indy and Digital Tape Machine at the House of Blues in Chicago.
Dumpstaphunk played the House of Blues in Chicago on Friday, July 19th as Phish’s official late night show. In all honesty, this show was the highlight of my evening, especially since Phish was forced to cancel early due to a nasty storm that swept through the city. Along with opening act, The Revivalist, Dumpstaphunk threw down one top notch funky dance party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
Glaspie throwing down at the House of Blues
Chicago actually holds a special place in Dumpstaphunk history. Drummer Nikki Glaspie played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk in Chicago just two short years ago. I got a chance to talk with Nikki before her show on Friday and let’s just say this chick is FIERCE! Her addition to the current lineup has elevated this band’s energy to a whole other stratosphere and her 15 minute drum solo Friday night completely blew me away.
Today, Dumpstaphunk will be releasing their latest album, Dirty Word, and this is the band’s first studio album since Nikki Glaspie joined the group. In the past she has helped produce, arrange, and record tracks in the studio for many other projects and artists, but Dirty Word is the first album where Nikki recorded material that she had also written.
Dumpstaphink is basically a super group of funk musicians, and Dirty Word showcases the musical range this band brings to the table. While each member has a notable musical background in funk, Nikki Glaspie is the only member not rooted in the New Orleans funk scene. Needless to say, her vocals pack quite a punch and her influence on the new album is obvious. ”I brought some of the rock element to the album. Whereas Nick Daniels brought the blues element and Ivan (Neville) brought a rock element too but a different type, almost like a Who-ish type vibe, and I brought just straight hard rock.”
Coming up with new material this day in age is often a reflection of what is already out there in the world of music. By staying true its origins, Dumpstaphunk’s mix of styles has brought funk music to a whole other level. ”We wanted people to know we are more than just a funk band,” explains Glaspie, ”We can play blues if we want to or we can play rock if we want to.”
Dirty Word was recorded in New Orleans and took about a year to complete. One of the most distinct difference between Dumphstaphunk and other funk bands is they lack a horn section. Luckily, artists Trombone Shorty and Skerik were close by to supply the horns for the album’s third track “I Wish You Would”. ”Skerik is an amazing tenor saxophone player, he’s sick!” says Nikki. They also added Rebirth Brass Band to mix for ”Raise the House,” a song that was meant to blow everyone away in true Mardi Gras fashion.
Dirty Word also contains some pretty notable contributions from artists Ani DiFranco and Art “Papa Funk” Neville. The album’s sixth track, “If I’m in Luck” is a dirty nasty Bettie Davis cover where Glaspie sings vocals and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers guest stars on bass. “It is so different than what Dumpstaphunk normally does or what people think we normally do,” explains Nikki “That was actually what we wanted for the record.” The band has been covering the tune since Nikki joined back in 2011. Just like it does in their live show, ”If I’m in Luck” adds quite a sassy flavor to the Dumpstaphunk catalog.
There is a certain stigma that surrounds funk music, which often gets snubbed because it goes against most of what pop music stands for. When asked about the album’s title, Glaspie explains how it is almost the perfect description of funk music from a funk band’s perspective. ”There is no category in the Grammys for funk,” she points out. “When we register our songs on BMI or ASCAP, there is no category to register our songs as funk songs. You know it’s like it’s not even recognized as a genre of music within the music industry. So, it’s like a dirty word.” The irony is that disco, house, EDM, and Hip-hop are all rooted in funk. Therefore without funk music, most of the pop music today would not exist and pop music is something Nikki Glaspie knows all too much about.
Nikki was fortunate to land a gig touring in an all-girl band backing up pop superstar Beyoncé. While touring with one of the most successful artists in the world is a dream come true for most musicians, it just wasn’t her thing. “Literally, if I had to play “Irreplaceable” one more time, I would have shot myself in the foot.” Nikki further explains, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” Glaspie was at a crossroads where she felt she needed to be true to her art. Playing someone else’s music in a genre she could care less about no longer appealed to her. “I wanted to spread my wings. You know it was like I was super contained in that environment and I had to play the same thing over and over again. There was just no room for growth.”
Moving forward was a big step for her career. Funk music seemed to pull her in a direction where she knew she would enjoy being challenged. “I am a funkateer first and foremost, but I am also a rocker,” explains Nikki. Dumpstaphunk has given her a creative outlet where she can perform the same type of music she would want to listen to and see live. In other words, this is her dream job.
Dumpstaphunk at the House of Blues Chicago
Nikki Glaspie has now been touring with Dumpstaphunk virtually nonstop for the past two years. While it might seem like a huge leap from the all-female pop band she traveled the globe with, Nikki didn’t find adjusting all that difficult. “We all have a certain kinship living together on the road. It’s not as much of a difference as people would think or maybe as it would be in a different type of work environment. But because we are all musicians, and kind of all do the same thing, then the gender thing doesn’t really matter.”
Dumpstaphunk will continue to tour nonstop in support of the new album, which drops today. Download here.
This weekend Phish will be taking over Chicago for a three night run at Northerly Island. With Saturday already sold out, Kuroda sporting a new light rig, and a completely revamped venue, this is bound to be a throwdown! But the party doesn’t stop there! Quite a few Summer Camp favorites are playing late night shows all around Chicago this weekend. Here’s a little heads up on some don’t-miss late nights for those of you heading to Phish….
Friday night the funk machine better known as Dumpstaphunk will be playing the House of Blues in Chicago. Their newest album, Dirty Word (available for pre-order), is about to drop at the end of the month, so this late night is guaranteed to get DIRTY!!! ”We are touring in support of the new Album, so people will definitely hear new material,” says drummer Nikki Glaspie. Not to mention that the HOB is one of the few venues in the Midwest to have a spring floor, which means you have no choice but to get down the minute the music starts and getting down is exactly what NOLA’s Dumpstaphunk is known for.
Chicago holds a special place in Dumpsta history. It was at the Mid back in 2011 that drummer, Nikki Glaspie, played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk. In two short years she has brought the band to a whole other level. This late night will be a funky dance party through and through. What a great way to kick off the weekend!
On Saturday, one of our favorite Summer Camp up and coming bands, Spread, will be throwing a PHantastical late night at the Hard Rock Cafe. The event is being billed as the Gamehedge late night.
If you are not familiar, Gamehenge was the setting of a musical masterpiece Trey Anastasio developed in college for his senior year project way back in 1987. It is basically the story of a man on a journey to get the goods. I won’t give away too much, but lets just say this album was the platform on which Phish was constructed. So in the same fashion that Phish grew into the beast it is today, Spread throws down some heavy improvisation in every song they play. They are guaranteed to split open the Hard Rock Cafe and we might even get a ”Wiiiillllllsoooon” tease thrown in the mix.
Finally, Summer Camp’s favorite late night act is doing what they do best by providing a Talking Heads dance party until the wee hours of the morning. This Must Be The Band will be playing Martyrs 7/20 and 7/21. Their first set on both Saturday and Sunday will be all request, where the loudest person in the crowd gets to choose what gets played next (so long as it’s Talking Heads music). The second set each night will be Speaking in Tongues, note by note. How neat is that?!
Needless to say, Summertime Chi is in full swing, SCampers! This weekend is going to be the type where the party just doesn’t stop…. So get out there and get your groove on!
Pretty Lights’ newest album, A Color Map of the Sun, just dropped and let me be the first to say that this is one high quality, groove pumping, tastefully produced record. The progression of the album makes the listener feel like they are on a journey through the human condition, experiencing every emotion possible through their spiral down the rabbit hole.
This album was made for vinyl with vinyl produced by Pretty Lights. In fact, it comes with a whole extra disc of bonus material that is just that: The raw vinyl cuts that were used to produce the tracks found on Color Map. Each cut was orchestrated by Colorado’s very own home grown, Derek Vincent Smith, the mastermind behind Pretty Lights, who collaborated with dozens of musicians from around the country to produce one of his most soulful pieces of art to date. If you dig music, you better dig soul music, and A Color Map of the Sun smacks you across the face with soul.
The album’s first two tracks, “Color of My Soul” and “Press Pause” pack a soulful punch before Color Map really starts to throw down his bone moving grooves with “Let’s Get Busy.” The combination of both horns as strings brings layer upon layer of energy and purpose to almost every track on the album, yet the snap crackle pop of the vinyl brings the element of raw sound full circle.
While at times the album seems to lack the hip-hop references we are so used to hearing at a PL live show, it is almost as if A Color Map of the Sun is a nod to hip hop’s roots. In fact, too literal of a hip hop reference could have damaged the integrity of an album so full of raw musical expression. Pretty Lights seems determined to show the good, bad, and downright scary side of his musical aesthetic. ”Go Down Sunshine”, “So Bright”, and “Dead Wrong” explore the depths of PL’s dark side. On the other end of the spectrum, “Yellow Bird” and “One Day They’ll Know” have a more relaxed, ethereal sound that seems to provide balance to the album. It takes guts to express these types of musical emotions and it is definitely not commonplace within this genre of music.
As with all of Pretty Lights tracks, you can download the entire album for free or it can be purchased through iTunes or Prettylightsmusic.com. As an independent artist, he has found great success by making his music available to everyone for free over the years (with only the suggestion of donation.) In order to provide a bit more incentive for fans to pay, PL is offering a variety pack of goodies in order to entice fans to open their checkbooks. Color Map vinyls, pins, t-shirts, bonus tracks, and a neat little book all about the album have nearly all sold out through pre order. Luckily, there is more swag being produced and record stores are currently stocking their shelves with LP, but I am sure they won’t last long.
PL made a sweet little video on the making of A Color Map of the Sun you can check out here!!!
The PL YouTube channel also has music videos for every track on the album, along with visual art to emphasize the overall concept that is “Pretty Lights.” Check out the playlist here.
On Friday afternoon at Summer Camp 2013 the good people at Scamp HQ asked if I wanted to interview a dubstep DJ. I had no time whatsoever to prepare and I was not really familiar with his sound. On top of that, this was actually the first interview I have ever done with any artist EVER! Not knowing a thing about dubstep, I jumped right and just let it flow. I knew what I was getting myself into when I first applied to be a Counselor at Summer Camp, so this was my make it or break it moment. Needless to say, I channeled my inner Oprah and enjoyed every minute of it!
Minnesota is a young dubstep/glitch hop DJ that is based out of California. Originally from Minnesota, this Midwest dude doesn’t take himself too seriously which was a huge relief once I actually sat down to talk with him outside the church. We covered a lot in the short time I interviewed him, from his Midwest roots to playing festivals all around the country. He has opened for many of our favorite Summer Camp artists including STS9 and he will even be playing with Lotus at Red Rocks in September. In the meantime, he will be dropping bass all over the country this summer including Spring Awakening next weekend in Chicago.
I could probably write a book about my 2013 Summer Camp experience. There is a variety pack of blogs I have planned for the future and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite vendors, festy food, and artist interviews with my all my Scamp family.
Summer Camp 2013
For now, I want to share a video that pretty much sums up my time at this year’s Scamp. This whole process has been a very different experience than anything I have ever done before. I have never blogged, interviewed artists, shot and edited a video, or documented any part of a music festival before. While I am still learning quite a bit, I feel like I represented my favorite parts of Summer Camp the best I could. My goal from the beginning was to capture my favorite aspects of Camp while still staying true to the scene.
Please enjoy this video recap for Summer Camp 2013 and keep checking back because there is a TON more I want to show you!
Laser Guided Visions is a vendor you just might see at every music festival you go to. They specialize in hologram art in the form of posters, business cards, and even wearable accessories. Basically, they bring 3D interactive art to clothing so you can showcase these awesome designs everywhere you go.
My favorite hologram accessory is the flat brim hat that features the amazing art of Luke Brown or Alex Grey. The artwork is converted to a hologram format and is then attached to a custom designed Grassroots hat. The hologram gives these hats a very unique psychedelic aesthetic unlike any other hat out there.
Since last summer I have been noticing these holograms everywhere I go and I wanted to investigate a little further. I was able to talk with Raja, the man behind the holograms, at Summer Camp 2013. Check out the video…it is HYSTERICAL!!!