Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee will be showcasing some of their favorite holiday songs, along with some rare covers, and a handful of Umphrey’s originals on December 7th when they host their Annual Acoustic Holiday Show at the Park West in Chicago. This benefit will raise funds for The People’s Music School, the only music school in Chicago to offer free quality music education to children up until they graduate high school.
This exclusive event usually contains a handful of rarities and covers along with special guest sit-ins to help add to the magic of the night. Brendan and Jake have even welcomed the children’s choir on stage in the past to help boost the holiday atmosphere. “My favorite memory is doing “Happy Xmas” with a children’s choir.” Brendan Bayliss shared with me, ”I’ve wanted to play that song since I was old enough to remember it.”
And ultimately, this show is for the kids. The money raised at this year’s holiday show will be used to enroll kids in the People’s Music School. ”Our goal is to raise as much as we can in order to put as many kids in the school as possible,” explained event coordinator, Barry Brown. “The demand for enrollment always exceeds the funding available. So the more we raise and donate, the more kids there are that can get into the school.” In the past, Umphrey’s has helped raise enough funds to put at least 20 kids though the school’s music education program from the time they enroll until they graduate high school.
This will be the 11th year this annual charity event will taken place. Doors of the Park West will open early so attendees can participate in UM Holiday Garage Sale, where exclusive Umphrey’s merchandise will be available at steep discounts with part of the proceeds going to The People’s Music School. There will also be a raffle with prizes that include everything from restaurant gift cards to Summer Camp Music Festival tickets!
Tickets are currently on sale for the Annual Acoustic Holiday Show here and this event is guaranteed to sell out. They are currently accepting donations and raffle prizes so if you would like to contribute a prize or gift certificates, please email Barry Brown at UMcharityshow@gmail.com.
The Talking Heads‘ Stop Making Sense was a hugely successful concert film that redefined the live music experience in the 1980′s. While the movie was released almost 30 years ago, the show leaves an impression that will always feel contemporary. I remember watching the film over and over when I was a teenager, trying to figure out why I loved it so much. It wasn’t until I started writing this article that I finally saw Stop Making Sense as a piece of interactive artwork meant to feel more like a theatrical performance than a concert.
The film is structured like a story or a play with specific props and reactive characters. While the script of Stop Making Sense is made up of Talking Heads songs, the film’s purpose was not to showcase their music, but to incorporate it into what was happening on stage. More than almost any other band, The Talking Heads understood the visual element to their music.
Formed in 2007, this young group of musicians only plays Talking Heads music. While they mostly stick to all request shows, in 2010 they finally decided to tackle Stop Making Sense. The goal of the performance is to replicate the concert movie note for note, scene for scene. While they try to limit the differences between their recreation and the film, a precise replication will never be achieved, nor should it.
On November 9th, for the fourth year in a row, TMBTB recreated Stop Making Sense in their home town of Chicago. The concert begins with Charlie Otto walking out onto an empty stage looking like a sales man, only he carries a boombox in his hand instead of a briefcase. In a convincing manner, informs us he has a tape he wants to play.
Otto then sells his pitch with the song, “Psycho Killer”.
This is the first time we are introduced to our main character’s neurosis. David Byrne, the original front man of the Talking Heads, is extremely hard to capture and over the years Otto has learned to nail this persona. At certain points in the song he seems to have no control over his body and a nervous energy forms as he awkwardly twitches across the stage. As an observer, you can’t help but connect with whatever it is that is so strange about him.
The scene evolves over the course of the next six songs. Equipment gets wheeled out, the crew sets the stage piece by piece, and the cast takes their places. Building the scene as the show progresses gradually increases the energy emitting from the stage. It is quite a process before the whole band is finally all there for the powerhouse hit ”Burning Down the House”. This evolution of the scene and deliberate emphasis on execution is much more obvious in real life when compared to the film. The fact that the stage production seems simple is very intentional and it showcases the avant garde elements of the show.
While watching this all unfold, I found myself extremely sensitive to what was happening on stage. Facial expressions, the way the band moves, and the way they interact with each other were more impressionable in the live setting than on film. Vocalists Kasey Foster and Trawny Newsome danced in sync with each other and with the rest of the band throughout the show. While this also takes place in the movie, watching the synchronicity in real life pulled together all the members on stage into a unit. By the time TMBTB slammed into “Life During Wartime”, the whole band and most of the audience was running in place. And, just like that, everyone in the room became invested in this performance.
Throughout Stop Making Sense, our main character neurotically controls how the show unfolds like the ringmaster of a circus. The show then feels like it’s losing control when he exits the stage for the Tom Tom Club’s ”Genius of Love”. A spotlight creates a larger than life shadow on the stage’s backdrop when he finally reenters the scene for the set’s next tune; “Girlfriend is Better”. As he emerges to the front of the stage, we notice his morphed silhouette is actually the result of a costume change into an oversize suit. This iconic large suit makes his head appear small and exaggerates his presence on stage.
It is at this point in the show where it all starts to make sense.
Part of the reason TMBTB’s Stop Making Sense recreation is so successful is because it captures the art of the situation, the complexity of human interaction and a sensitivity to what is happening on stage. These things can not be duplicated from one performance to the next and they are very difficult to capture on film because camera angles and edits cut out a lot of these elements. When the show is recreated, tiny details of how each scene was put together stand out loud and clear.
While This Must Be The Band pays close attention to all these details, it is impossible to recreate the energy of a performance, no matter how many variables are controlled. This is not a bad thing, in fact, this is what makes Stop Making Sense a memorable performance worth experiencing over and over again.
When concert photography captures a show’s energy, those moments live on forever. Seeing these photos will conjure up the overall experience, but often lack the texture and depth felt in that exact moment. Jay Miller is an artist that has an ability to tap into that moment by blending photography with fractals in order to create an extremely original type of digital art called Fractography.
Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee. Fractograph by Jay Miller of ReverbSoul
Miller’s art attempts to connect his subject with the universal emotion and energy of the moment. He does this by applying specific formulas in order to add symmetrical patterns and 3D effects to a photo. It’s as if the images created are from another dimension of the universe and, for this reason, I can’t help but connect with his work. The scenes he builds are often engraved in my mind’s eye like they were always meant to be seen that way. If someday I were to become blind, this is how I will choose to view live music.
Digital Tape Machine Fractograph
Needless to say, Fractography has somehow tapped into a type of mystical art that almost seems universal when you look at these images. I have been watching Jay Miller’s work develop over the past year and finally got a chance to ask him about fractography, inspiration, and how we can get our hands on one of his prints!
CIT Carmel: What is Fractography?
Jay Miller: It’s a mixture of the words fractal and photography. It’s a pretty direct definition of my artwork. The deeper meaning behind Fractography is the connection I see and feel around me. I believe we’re all connected, but we very often forget or buy in to the idea of being individuals. The goal of Fractography then is to remind us of the connections we all share.
How did you get involved with this type of art?
As long as I can remember I’ve been interested in fractals and digital art. Digital composition and photo manipulation was something that 7 years ago I really enjoyed doing in my free time. I got to a point where my conscious kicked in and I found myself feeling bad about using other peoples images to create my artwork, though at the time I wasn’t selling my artwork. The only logical way for me to get to a place where I felt comfortable to sell my artwork was investing in a camera to create my own photos to composite and manipulate.
Getting my first “real” camera in 2009, I started to learn how to use it by shooting what was around me, which just happened to be artists (mainly musicians). I shot in local bars and clubs, first for good friends like Chicago Farmer, Ed Anderson, Backyard Tire Fire and then for bigger and bigger acts as time went on. This blossomed into shooting at some small Midwestern festivals like Summer Camp and eventually culminated with shooting at some of the major music festivals around the country.
What I nearly forgot in all of this excitement of learning how to shoot photos was that I had originally wanted to use a camera to create images that I could composite and manipulate. It sounds cliché but the idea struck me about 6 months ago while I was in the shower. The image in my mind was so real that I jumped out and scribbled a note about combining photos with fractals. I later tried for hours to create the image I had in my mind (pretty unsuccessfully, I may add) but I wouldn’t give up in trying to figure out how to create this image I’d seen so visibly in my mind. That’s how Fractography was born.
This is always so difficult to answer, even when I ask myself this same question, as it always feels like I’m making a list that is destined to forget something or someone. I’m incredibly inspired first and foremost by my 85 year old grandmother who helped raise me and has provided continual support and encouragement. She has taught me how to be a strong, honest, and all around good person and I owe nearly everything I’ve accomplished in some way to her and the qualities she’s instilled in me. Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way I’m incredibly inspired by life in general. I, for whatever reason, can find something inspiring in just about any situation or place I find myself in. In fact, I just got goosebumps and feel inspired simply by having this conversation.
So, my final answer? Everything. Hah!
How does live music inspire you?
Live music specifically inspires me through the connections it has. I could list connections that I see almost indefinitely, but a short list would include how a musician connects with his instrument, his thoughts, his bandmates, the crowd, and how all of those connections weave themselves together into larger connections. It always reminds me of the saying “As below, so above”, which brings me back to my love for fractals. Music lets me see the fractalized connections of the world around me. It’s humbling, satisfying, and often revealing.
How would you like to share your art with the world?
This has plagued me for a long time. In a world that wants to hold on to power I’m constantly being influenced to be the same, to protect my work, to hide in fear from all of the thieves that will rob me. Honestly though, this protective oversight of my art has caused more harm than good. Art to me isn’t about the monetary investment, it’s about the connection it captures and then projects. The current way that I’ve chosen to share my work with the world is through the Creative Commons Licensing.
I’m re-releasing my catalog of images, and all future images uploaded to my website will be free for sharing with just a few rules on how sharing is done. This is a new step for me and I’m very excited to see how it progresses. So far I’ve gotten nothing but amazing feedback, and I have a lot more hours in the day to create new art. It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders and I hope this change will encourage the connection between my artwork and my audience, and inspire others to create and share.
I will also be displaying some of my Fractography at Inner Circle Gallery in Downtown Bloomington, IL on December 6th. There will likely be between 15-25 pieces on display ranging from 8×11 to 44″ in size. Some of these images have never been seen or published before and others will be fan favorites that I’ve received tons of great feedback on. They will be on display throughout the month and can be viewed by appointment if you are unable to make it on December 6th.
Also, Old Shoe will be playing in Bloomington after the gallery show on December 6th. So Summer Campers want to catch some live music after checking out the art show.
*All the artwork for this post was created by Jay Miller and much more can be found at his website, ReverbSoul, where he shares inspiration and development of his artwork as it progresses.
Halloween is a BIG weekend for the infamous Umphrey’s McGee. These novelty shows usually follow a tradition of busting out a handful of debut covers in a variety of ways, including combining them together into one beastly monster called a ‘mash-up’. I knew I couldn’t miss a single night of this year’s mash-up run, so I took up residence at a hotel suite directly across from the Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater along with ten of my closest friends. The first night of the run was actually on Halloween, plus all three shows were being streamed and taped for later release. I guess it goes without saying that this weekend was destined to be mashed to another level.
I spent the first half of Halloween day sewing together my Hell’s Belle costume, which was a mash-up of the devil and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I was definitely ready to rock and roll in my AC/DC get up and, needless to say, the members of Umphrey’s were also dressed to impress for this special holiday. Brendan Bayliss was HeisenBert Reynolds, Jake Cinninger was Silent Bob Seger, Kris Myers was Dr. Phil Spector, and Andy Farag was Paul Ryan Braun, to which the Milwaukee crowd boo’d and hissed as he was introduced. But the best costume had to of been Joel Cummins dressed as Uncle Jesse Pinkman.
The first mash-up song of the night came at the end of the first set. It featured “When Doves Cry” by Prince, blended with Umph original “Pay the Snucka” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. While ”Don’t Fear the Doves, Snucka” was fairly well mashed, I felt like it didn’t have quite enough cow bell to really pull it off.
Halloween night’s second set contained the next mash-up; “Papa Can Change a Blurred Stone”. This was probably my least favorite debut of the weekend, mostly because Umphrey’s covered Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. This pop song has haunted me at every wedding, club, and dive bar I patronized over the past six months and the fact that I had to endure it once again while watching my favorite band was the ultimate Halloween trick. Not only that, but it completely overpowered The Tempations, Marvin Gaye, and LCD Soundsystem in the process. I am not sure whose idea it was to cover that specific song but I have a feeling bassist Ryan Stasik was involved, especially since his mash-up costume was Batman & Robin Thicke.
The final mash-up of the night stayed true to the yearly Halloween Mash-up Show tradition of saving the best for last. “Highway to Electric Avenue” was probably the most well mashed song of the Halloween show and seemed deliberately put aside for the show’s encore. Umphrey’s original “The Triple Wide” helped set off the mash-up’s pace which eventually evolved into a game of double-dutch between AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this mash-up contained a song by the same band that inspired my Hell’s Belle costume. Besides the three mash-ups, the setlist from Halloween contained heavy hitter after heavy hitter without a single song from the albums Mantis or Anchor Drops thrown in the mix. Fancy that.
 debut; When Doves Cry (Prince) + Pay the Snucka + (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult) mash-up
 with Halloween theme (John Carpenter) jam, and Thriller (Michael Jackson) and Day Nurse teases
 debut; Papa Was a Rolling Stone (The Temptations) + Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke) + Got to Give It Up (Marvin Gaye) + I Can Change (LCD Soundsystem) mash-up
 debut; The Triple Wide + Highway to Hell (AC/DC) + Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant) mash-up
Band costumes: Brendan was Heisenbert Reynolds, Jake was Silent Bob Seger, Joel was Uncle Jesse Pinkman, Andy was Paul Ryan Braun, Kris was Dr. Phil Spector, and Ryan was Batman & Robin Thicke
For Friday night, I signed up for Headphones and Snowcones. It basically cost me $40 for a pair of headphones that streamed a live audio mix directly from the soundboard to my tympanic membranes. This was the first time I tried the experience for an entire show and now I’m afraid live music will never sound the same. These headphones allowed me to tune out the rest of the world so I could get completely lost in the moment. This type of experience is the reason I am so in love with live music and now I don’t know how I will be able to fully enjoy a show without a set of headphones on. So it goes.
The second set on Friday opened with a DBK club sandwich and contained the night’s only debut mash-up: “The Final Teen Spirit”. Dramatic synths from Europe’s “The Final Countdown” directly clashed with Nirvana’s grunge classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The simplicity of mashing only two songs into one seamless tune made this one of the most successful, straightforward mash-up of the weekend.
 with Kevin Sinclair on saxophone  with Simple Gifts (trad.) teases  debut; The Final Countdown (Europe) + Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) mash-up  with Adam Budney on vocals  with Baba O’Riley (The Who) teases
Brother’s Rage played a smoking after party show on Friday night that featured one of my favorite sit-ins to date. Jake Cinninger, the other worldly guitarist from Umphrey’s McGee, joined the late night act for a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Profit” followed by some spacey improv. The jam eventually slammed into the sweaty disco tune, “You Should be Dancing” originally by the Bee Gee’s and featured Mr. Barry Brown on vocals. Needless to say, a legendary dance party erupted among all who attended and continued into the early morning hours.
By the final day of the Halloween run, most of my crew was hurting. Too much bourbon and beer had our hotel room smelling like the bathroom of a Wisconsin dive bar. Saturday’s show was sold out but I ended up getting a wristband for the floor, which ended up being completely packed with people. I was forced to stand behind a guy wearing a huge mushroom head hat and next to a girl that decided to conserve space by grinding on my leg like a dog humping its favorite teddy bear.
As far as Umphrey’s goes, this was definitely their most animated show of the weekend. Jake and Ryan were all over the place, both musically and physically. The first set contained an unfinished version of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”, which made me realize that I will probably never get a chance to hear Umphrey’s cover “Walking on the Moon” live. Also, it’s about time for Umph to tackle ”Man in a Suitcase”.
The final mash-up of the weekend was “Push the Booth Deeper” and it was confusing as hell! Most of us had no clue what was going on, which song was being played or whether all three originals were being played at the same time. A friend was able to get a hold of the song’s notes and confirmed the cluster of confusion from which this mash-up was birthed. To be honest, I am still trying to wrap my head around it.
Umphrey’s McGee finally ended the second set on Saturday night by busting out the Metallica rager, “…And Justice for All”, which hadn’t been performed live in over five years. But the real highlight of the evening was the relentless “Bridgeless” encore. As the tune progressed, one particular audience member could no longer contain his excitement. This very dirty looking man ran across the stage without shoes on, only to be tackled by the stage crew in front of the sold out crowd. It was then rumored that the same wook ended up outside the venue about an hour later going absolutely insane without a single piece of clothing on his body. And thus, a Halloween weekend full of mash-ups and debauchery came to an end.
Umphrey’s McGee has been in and out of the studio for the last couple months working on their newest album due out early next year. This will be their first studio album since Death by Stereo. Since then they have developed quite a few new tunes that truly encapsulate the essence of Umph. There are also dozens of songs fans have fallen in love with over the years that have yet to endure a studio treatment.
As far as the debut bust outs for this album, we are guaranteed to get a couple tracks that scream live potential and will hopefully explore new jamscapes for Umphrey’s McGee, much like ”Miami Virtue” did after Death by Stereo was released or “Cemetery Walk” after Mantis. By creating a limitless platform of music, Umphrey’s can gear their sound into any direction they choose at any given show, which is the true beauty of this magnificent jam machine.
Joel tweeted in August that the new album was geared towards a heavier rock sound with at least 9 songs that have already been introduced into the live rotation along with seven debut tracks never heard before. While this may change as the album starts coming together, I would like to share my predictions on what I hope to see on the new album.
Brendan Bayliss Fractograph by Jay Miller of ReverbSoul
A bust out debut tune from this past year’s Umbowl, “No Diablo” has only showed its sassy face at special events like Chautauqua the day after Red Rocks and in Chicago during this summer’s STUMP run. This tune has classic written all over it with a motown essence that the whole band grooves to. It was originally written by Bayliss for Jake’s son and holds a lot of passion in its obscure meaning. Ultimately, it is a crockpot of advice from a mentor to a young grasshopper.
Room to Breathe
First played at Summer Camp 2011, “Room to Breathe” has a definite Umph sound. It’s a progressive tune with angsty content that captures an energy of frustration. The song builds until it reaches it’s final chorus and you just can’t help but sing along. Almost everyone can relate to the sense of time in this song and the reality that a ticking clock is one of the strongest sources of pressure we all face.
Another bust out from Scamp 2011, “Puppet String” immediately became part of Umph’s rotation and has continued to gain momentum over past last two years. In fact, there was a ton of upset that it didn’t make it onto Death by Stereo, which came out only a couple months after the song’s debut. Stasik’s baseline in “Puppet Strings” demands your attention while Bayliss’s lyrics help everyone relate to the song’s message. You can’t help but thrash your head as the song’s build up eventually explodes, breaking down the walls that surround it as it makes the listener rethink reality as it’s been presented.
“Loose Ends” was made to be a studio track and will sound great on the next album. It has a post grunge rock sound that has been polished up since it was first played in 2012. Bayliss’s lyrics and delivery are perfectly complemented by song’s meaning and sound. It is basically about moving on, or rather refusing to move on when the past still holds you back.
Jaco Fracto by Jay Miller of ReverbSoul
First played at Summer Camp 2012, “Crucial Taunt” showcases Umph’s technical side. It is lyrically complex and Jake’s guitar spits out a stream of notes that makes you wonder if he is an alien from another dimension. The song’s name came from a fan after Bayliss shared they couldn’t decide on a title for the track and they were open to suggestions. If you are unaware, “Crucial Taunt” was the name of Cassandra’s band in the movie Wayne’s World.
Cut the Cable
It may be a long shot, but I can’t help but hope for “Cut the Cable” to be on the next album. Originally a lyrical stew, this song got everyone all hot and bothered right off the bat. It was labeled a 30db tune by Bayliss at first, yet kept popping up in Umph setlists as a Jimmy Stewart. Fans have practically demanded it be kept in Umph’s live rotation yet it has only been played a handful of times. It’s hard to say if “Cut the Cable” has reached enough maturity to be put on a studio album… but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed!
Originally debuted in 2010, this song quickly became a impov vehicle for Umph. The long, expansive jams that come out of this beastly tune helped it land a spot on Umphrey’s Hall of Fame 2010. “The Linear” has already been played 20 times in 2013, often anchoring a setlist, and usually filling more than 15 minutes of a set. The lyrics flow with an almost rap-like quality to them and the composition of the song showcase’s every members skills, especially Joel’s souful keys.
The Triple Wide
After ten years of perfecting this instrumental song, it is about time it made it onto a studio album! ”The Triple Wide” is a dance party through and through. It has been played over 300 times by Umphrey’s, never failing to provide the perfect platform for an unforgettable, hip swaying, freak nasty, dance party.
Wizard Burial Ground
If you are not familiar with “Wizard Burial Ground”, it is a creation that was birthed in the depths of hell. This song has an amazing ability to turn you to the dark side in a matter of seconds without ever looking back. I could go into more detail about the ups and downs of how this jam flows but I would rather show you….
This video s a “Wizard Burial Ground” from Summer Camp 2009, one of Umph’s most epic moments to date!
Pretty Lights has finally taken his analog show on the road! The making of his newest album, A Color Map of the Sun, involved an intense process of creating his own tracks, putting them on vinyl and then mixing it up into a dance party frenzy. The album has been out for a few months now and has been viewed as one of Pretty Lights’ most personal peices of work to date.
The making of A Color Map of the Sun was unprecedented. Derek Vincent Smith personally traveled around the country in search of the best musicians in the world of music. He then conducted them in the studio in order to produce the perfect sound for his tracks. Already knowing how he wanted each song to sound, he was able to tap into the raw talent of these musicians in order to create a perfect complement to his vision.
In a way it all makes sense, I mean a successful DJ is just a maestro who can access all his instruments with the tips of his fingers. Yet, I find there is always something lacking with the live show. Unless a DJ is straight up balls to the wall, the lights are usually the only visually stimulating element to the show. Well Pretty Lights already mastered the lighting aspect of his live sets and now he is finally ready to move forward into uncharted territory. It might be extremely risky, but a full band will be on the road with him this whole fall tour, that includes over 30 shows in less than two months! BOOM.
Hopefully this circus will be coming to a city near you because this PL tour is one for the books! Get your tickets HERE!
Papadosio is a band with a plan to change the world. They want their music to inspire people to break down their barriers in order to become engaged with the world around them. After seeing their show on September 27th in Chicago, I decided to capture the show’s vibe with a poem. Enjoy!
engage to escape
the curtains separate in a House of Sadness
the earth cries an ancient sound
a lullaby from the past
it clarifies a mature vision
a vision lacking maturity
these youth in their prime
locked in a state of ecstasy
their souls communicate so freely…
but this room’s arrangement is too easily comfortable
energy creeps up the walls
patiently awaiting the right moment to present itself
the organic sounds intensify
pulling at the strings that bind us
synthetically woven into society’s pattern
ruching the fabric, yet unraveling
until a thread is all that’s left
did you hear that?
can anyone else feel this?
I embark on a quest to escape
cautiously brake through restrictions
soak in the journey along the way
indulge in my past for comfort
growing up was a time of adversity
subjectively, the pain was real
but silenced by emotional impotence
a need for survival snuffed out my desire to evolve
The devastation caused by flooding in Colorado has effected many members of our Summer Camp community. Nearly 2,000 homes are unlivable and hundreds of families lost everything. Many are now forced to rebuild their lives and spirits with whatever wasn’t destroyed by waters that tore through their neighborhoods. Being washed out of your home is a mighty large pill to swallow but, in all reality, this type of natural disaster could happen to anyone, regardless of where you live.
Flooding in Lyons, CO forced a whole communities out of their homes.
Back in the day people used to donate their own time, money, and energy to support a cause. They would stand in the streets with signs and volunteer at shelters in order to change the world around them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. These days most people sit around and watch tragedies unfold on their TV sets, in the comforts of their own home. They might talk about it at school or work, commenting on how sad it must be, passionately saying, “Someone should do something about it.” Somewhere along the way our generation has lost the courage to stand up and do something about it themselves. They assume someone else or maybe even our government will take care of these tragic situations that happen around the world.
This is not the case within our Summer Camp community and this is what sets us apart from every other festival. Summer Camp is more than a festival, it is a family. I personally know at least 5 Summer Campers that have had their lives flipped upside down by this natural disaster and their accounts of the devastation are heart breaking.
Luckily, we are a community that supports each other in times of need. Across the board Summer Camp artists, Make-a-Difference nonprofits, and even individual Scampers are donating their money, time, and energy towards flood relief and rebuilding efforts.
Many Summer Camp artists and bands have stepped up in unique ways to help aid devastated Colorado communities.
One of our favorite late night acts, Lotus, was right in the thick of it when the flooding occurred. Their September 13th Red Rocks show had to be postponed due to the rain and lack of safe roadways to the venue. They immediately turned this upset around by hosting a benefit show that same evening at the Armoury in Denver in order to raise funds for the Red Cross. Lotus’s opening acts and Summer Camp Alumni, Minnesota and Break Science, also hosted a last minute fundraiser that raised over $5,000 for United Way’s Flood Relief Fund.
STS9 has taken a different route by donating all proceeds from merchandise, along with live recording sales, to help raise over $10,000 for Colorado. Many other bands have been holding food and supply drives during their shows for those displaced due to evacuations. Some bands, like Yonder Mountain String Band, have chosen to donate 100% of proceeds from their Colorado shows towards rebuilding communities effected by the floods. Just by enjoying these shows, attendees will be contributing to flood relief efforts: a win/win situation for all involved.
Big Gigantic is hosting Flood Relief Benefit shows this weekend, Sept. 27th and 28th at the Fillmore in Denver and at Red Rocks Amphitheater, respectively. They will be donating a portion of ticket sales directly to Conscious Alliance’s Flood Relief Fund along with collecting supplies and food for those washed out. Big G will also be hosting a Big Gigantic Cleanup Day with details still to be determined. This act has really stepped up in a BIG way for their home state and Summer Camp favorite nonprofit, Conscious Alliance will be bringing the food and supplies collected to hundreds of Colorado families directly effected by the floods.
Now you may ask yourself, “What can I do?” and the truth is A LOT! I am a firm believer that grassroots efforts can truly make a difference and I know from first had experience that everyone has an ability to change the world in their own special way.
There are tons of opportunities where you can personally help Colorado. While donating money may be the easiest solution, you can also contribute by hosting fundraisers and supply drives. Setting up these types of events isn’t as difficult as you might think. You would be surprised how many businesses or even family members would be happy to support your cause if you just took the time to ask. Garage sales, party hosting, and benefit car washes are all easy ways to bring in money. Organizing a “split the pot” at your favorite bar or a bake sale at your school is easy as pie, literally.
You can also donate your time. Simply sending an email out to your friends and family with a link to a charity you believe it like Conscious Alliance can help raise more money than you might expect. Better yet, taking the time to roll up your sleeves to help clean up would make the world of difference to those who have to rebuild their lives and homes.
I personally wanted to do something to help a family I knew had lost everything in the Colorado floods. So I had the idea of holding some sort of raffle during my birthday party in Chicago last weekend. Since most of my friends and family would be there, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do some good in the midst of opening presents and blowing out candles. I got in touch with Umphrey’s McGee to see if they were interested in donating a couple of prizes for our raffle. While Umprhey’s had already announced they would be contributing a percentage of ticket sales to flood relief, they were more than happy to gift us some awesome merchandise for the raffle. With just a few t-shirts, a signed poster, and some DVDs, we were able to raise over $400 for a family who lost everything in Lyons, CO. This is an example of grass roots at its finest.
For those of you living in Denver, on October 14thUmphrey’s \UM/ Mondays will be hosting a fundraiser where they will be raffling off a variety of items for flood victims. This group of Umphrey’s fans have been getting together at their favorite Denver bars to listen to live Umphrey’s and drink some heady beers for over a year. They knew this weekly event was a perfect opportunity to get their community involved in flood relief. They are now accepting donations through their Facebook page or you can just show up to the fundraiser! Awesome prizes and an awesome time is guaranteed!
Visit Help Colorado NOW to donate directly to Colorado counties effect by the floods or come out to one of our many Summer Camp community events to support the cause. Or, better yet, host your own!
Let’s show Colorado just how much our Summer Camp family cares!
It’s hard not to notice photographer Brian Spady tramping through Summer Camp Music Festival with some pretty impressive equipment, trying to capture all those epic moments you wish to relive over and over again. Every time we see his work it brings us back to those precious moments and we can’t help but smile from ear to ear. He has a way of adding feeling to his photos and highlighting the energy of the scene like no other. His work is notorious in our community and, without it, you’d be surprised just how easily our favorite memories and feelings can be forgotten.
Spady recently joined forces with a handful of other notable photographers in a project called, Ain’t Art Grand. The purpose of this project is to put high quality concert photos directly into the hands of fans and it’s as easy as ordering a print directly from the website. Ain’t Art Grand basically gives us fans an opportunity to showcase our favorite concert photos, right in the comfort of our own homes. The moments we hold so sacred are suddenly immortalized in such a high quality manner that we can almost feel like we’re there again. It’s really something special.
Spady took some time out of his busy schedule for an interview where he answered a few questions regarding both concert photography and Ain’t Art Grand.
Carmel: What got you started in concert photography?
Brian Spady: I have always loved the way that a picture can tell a story. Good pictures that require a close and detailed examination, or images that are simple but powerful and too the point. I have also loved music and its influences on my life have been powerful. Long ago before I knew how to really use a camera beyond framing a picture, I would beg or pay my friends that had more knowledge to take pictures for me. I knew I wanted to save the moment for later reflection, or examination. Saving a piece of my own brief history. Eventually I grew tired of being able to see the picture I wanted to take in my minds eye, but not able to capture it myself. This was strong motivation for me to take classes and learn about photography, learn the rules of composition, when to follow them and when to break them and why.
C: What are some of your favorite bands to shoot? How do they support your passion for capturing live shows?
B:My favorite bands to shoot are ones that trust me to know what I am doing. Those bands that understand you can’t produce quality work when limited to the first three songs from a photo pit. Beyond that it helps to have the musicians be animated. The more jumping around and emotion that is displayed while playing the music, the better for me. It keeps me interested and coming back for more shots. Oh and the lights, my job is to capture and record light. Its hard to do that if the band does not have the appropriate hardware and an amazing lighting designer who knows how to use it.
C: What do you do with the photos you take? How are they used?
B:Depends on what I am assigned to shoot. Some photos will go out to publications, online music blogs or other editorial sources, some can be used for promotional purposes either for the band/festival/venue, or advertisements for gear that musicians are using or want to use. Some pictures will be used for various social media sources as well, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Some pictures will go to the band, some to the promoters, and some the record label.
C: Do you get paid to take photos at a concert?
B:Some bands will pay you to cover a tour or string of shows. Big events/holidays such as NYE and Halloween usually pay. Some editorial publications will pay to use photos for a review of a festival or a show. General rule of thumb is the larger a band is, the larger their budget is for photographers.
C: Does a photographer make a decent living shooting shows and festivals?
B:Shooting strictly festivals and shows is very hard when it comes to making a living. Unless your travel is being covered by either the band or the festival, this expense alone can easily eat up any profit or extra cash made while taking pictures. The biggest problem is a lot of publicity firms/record labels/bands know that they can skip paying a real photographer what they deserve to be paid in exchange for shoddy but free work. Technology is getting better and better and soon a nice “point and shoot” camera will have a sensor the same size as a pro DSLR. Publicity firms/record labels/bands don’t always see it as an art form or understand that there is more to taking a picture than being in the right place at the right time or having the best/newest equipment, but only see the bottom line and it comes down to money. One of my professors said it best “Anyone and their mother can take ‘snapshots,’ photographers take pictures.” Some times it is easier to ignore requests for payment and just go with the fresh faced fan that got a new camera and wants to work for free. Bottom line, don’t expect to being rolling in cash if all you are shooting is jambands.
C: Have you ever had your work stolen or used without your permission?
B:Yes all the time, it is almost impossible to stop. A recent article on Buzzfeed about Red Rocks featured one of my pictures. Except the photo credit was listed as “Instagram.com” I was not asked by Buzzfeed if they could use my picture for their story. I was not compensated in any way for its use. The picture was not taken with cell phone, but rather my DSLR and plenty of post editing work went into the creation of the image. I also never posted said picture on Instagram… The internet is a double edged sword, useful and necessary, but once your images go up somewhere, they are dissected and dispersed very quickly. It is easy to copy and paste an image from the web, crop the watermark out, change the metadata and then poof! You have an image that you can claim that you took. You will know that you are full of shit, as well as the Photographer who actually took the original picture. This is frustrating but also inevitable.
C: Who came up with the concept for Ain’t Art Grand?
B: Maddox Womble. Lots of people had talked with me about doing something similar, but he is the first one to bundle it all together into a package that made sense to all parties involved; band, photographer and fan.
C: How did you get involved with the project?
B: Recommendations from fellow photographers and networking. This business is like any other, who you meet while on the road and who you stay in contact with all help shape one’s career. Maddox sought me out and presented his ideas saying he had seen my work and appreciated it. But more importantly, I knew that he could handle the business end of things while letting me do what I do best, take the pictures.
C: What is Ain’t Art Grand all about? What is it’s goal?
B: I feel Ain’t Art Grand fills a missing gap in official merchandise. Founder and CEO Maddox said it best, “Before, I was stuck with my blurry iPhone pictures. Now instead of a t- shirt or poster, I can immortalize a great show and hang a piece of fine art in my house just days later, now that’s awesome.” The typical music fan is both prohibited from bringing in a full frame professional camera and also not allowed in a lot of positions that professional photographers would be as well as not usually in a sober state of mind or being to think about capturing a memento of the amazing music and light show preformed in front of their very eyes. This fills another need and desire beyond the t-shirt and poster at a comparable price point. Don’t get me wrong, I have a LOT of posters and t-shirts, but its nice to have options.
C: How can other photographers get involved with Ain’t Art Grand?
B: I think the general idea will be as the interest and demand starts to heat up, that we would add more bands and more photographers. Right now each of the photographers selected have their own unique style that they bring to the table. I would love to add more in the future.
C: How do you see people using the prints they buy off of Ain’t Art Grand?
B: My sincere hope is that these prints are hung on the walls of music fans, across the country. Shown to friends and house guests with pride, given as gifts to people of all ages and treasured or even handed down between generations.
C: Why should folks pay for these photos when they can just take them off the internet for free?
B: Besides the fact that it is stealing? Well for starters, the images one takes from the internet for free tend to be low resolution web based formats that are really only good for a maximum 5×7 to 8×10 before they start to decrease in quality very quickly. And at that point why not just blow up the crappy iPhone pic you took while you were high or drunk? No this service is really looking for the individual fan that appreciates art, appreciates the time and love that our photographers put into their work every time they go out there and shoot, appreciates the music enough to want something more than a t-shirt or poster to remember that night or tour. Something that can hang on the wall and they know with certainty that their money was well spent. So if you are looking to cut corners, don’t really care what songs are played, who you spill your drinks on or who’s view you block with your rage stick, then by all means download the pictures for free. Download the music for free, jump the fence and sneak into the show for free too while you are at it. The world is your oyster just take advantage all you can, cause some day it will come back to bite you in the ass.
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.