Did you know that Steve’s first experience with Strange Arrangement was at Summer Camp? After hearing their set and grabbing a summer sampler CD, he learned all the music on his own… when they were on a hunt for a new drummer, he was the man for the job!
Hear Steve & I chat about his experience joining Strange Arrangement, his take on the power of live music today, and what bands he wanted to catch last weekend. Don’t forget to catch guys in June at their Stranger Danger festival in Chicago.
Click here to listen: Steve Sinde of Strange Arrangement interview with CIT Abby Mager
Well folks, we did it. And as a Summer Camp veteran, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this was possibly the best Summer Camp yet! Here are the top 10 things I loved about this year….
1. Nobody’s set got rained out this year. Whew!
2. The collective screams of approval when Umprey’s McGee started playing Tom Sawyer.
3. Moe. and Umphrey’s light shows. Duh. I mean, you can be stone cold sober looking at those things and still be in a total trance.
4. The look of joy on some guy’s face when I told him he could have my extra Saturday late-night wristband for free.
5. The dude taking a dump in a bucket right underneath the Moonshine stage arch. (Hey, I didn’t say these were pleasant memories, but that will surely not be forgotten!)
6. A dog named Akimbo. I have no idea what his owner’s name was, but I ran into Akimbo easily 6 times this festival and he always was having fun!
7. Water guns. Everywhere, all the time, all shapes and sizes.
8. Sunrise kickball with Ryan Stasik.
9. Warren Haynes sit-in with G. Love & Bob Weir sit-in with Primus. Absolutely fantastic.
10. When I got back into Chicago, I saw 3 separate groups of Scampers within 5 blocks of my house. That’s the thing about Summer Camp – you take it home with you.
Until next year, loves.
Alright fellow campers, for those of us who have been here over the years, you’ll notice a lot of new stuff this year. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
- RFID chips in your wristbands - this year we’re high-tech, and you’ll need to get scanned in every time you enter or exit the park (for VIP, every time you enter that section as well). Throughout Thursday, there were some congested lines as the staff were figuring them out… turns out, if your arm is too close to the person next to you, it has trouble reading them. So basically just don’t all shove your wrists together to get scanned. That said, I’ll have to assume this helps crack down on folks sneaking in for free – so, this will help keep out ticket prices down for the fair paying customers. Hooray!
- The great Sunshine / Campsite switch – we knew this one was coming when the map was released, but the relocation of the Sunshine stage is a pretty big move. What I do like about it is the better sense of community when you’re walking from stage to stage. Rather than having campsites way out on the perimeter, more people can be in the heart of the action (even if you didn’t get a prized forest spot). Jury’s still out on what it will be like during shows though… I could see some pretty tough traffic moving from Moe @ Moonshine to Umphrey’s at Sunshine without the straight path through.
- Information Boards! - this has already saved me at least 5 times this camp. As you’re walking through, look for the information boards with a big schedule posted, any workshops and activities (like Field Day), weather and other updates. These are also featuring “Missed Connections” boards (a la Craigslist)… did you catch eyes with a gorgeous hooper this weekend? Share a beer with a studly man and didn’t give your number? Summer Camp Missed Connections has you covered.
- Camping Stage – what seemed in years past as a little tricky to find and a real small set up has legit stage quality this year. The camping stage has moved, they’ve gotten a great setup with a proper viewing area, and even some serious decorations. Check it out!
Here I am interviewing Vanessa Robinson about greening initiatives at Summer Camp. It’s a bit windy (as we all experienced on Thursday!) so here are her main tips:
- Sort your garbage into compost or recycling – it only takes 2 seconds!
- Visit the Soulshine tent every year to support the dozens of groups making a difference
- Play the scavenger hunt! It’s so easy and gives you access into a private concert
If I could quickly sum up Sunday’s experience it would be: dance party.
I peeled myself out of my tent around 9 (the latest I’d been able to sleep all weekend), got ready, and headed over to the Summer Camp offices to load up pictures and blog posts. When I got there, I found out that I’d been cleared to interview Michael Franti after his set that afternoon. I spent a few minutes freaking out with excitement, and got to work on prep.
Around 3 I met up with some buddies at moe.’s acoustic set on the Starshine Stage – so much fun! They kicked it off with St. Augustine, which is a favorite of mine, and the dance party began. At this point in the day, you could really tell that the heat index was well over 100 degrees, so a big thanks goes out to all you nice festies who were smart enough to bring Super Soakers to spray the crowd… we really appreciated it!
After moe., I took a short break to collect myself in time for the Franti interview, and headed over to his set. I spent about the first 3 songs in the VIP area (thinking I didn’t want to get too dirty or sweaty before meeting him), but quickly it became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen — dance party #2! We rushed to the middle of the crowd, kicked off our shoes, and got down to some amazing tunes. About halfway through, Franti popped up with a makeshift stage in the middle of the crowd, right near where we were standing. It could not have been more perfect; it was like out own little performance. That’s what I love about Franti – he brings people on stage, comes into the crowd, and generally makes every show feel like a community experience. After the set, I got my big interview, which will be posted on the site sometime this week… let’s just say, it was a dream come true and I am still smiling about it.
Next up, it was time for Pretty Lights. I’ve seen him before and although I’m a fan, we had planned just to stop for a little bit before moving over to Galactic. But once we were in the crowd, we knew we had to stay… dance party #3! Somehow, a group of people had managed to take over one of the golf carts and use it as a party platform… how this happened, I have no idea. But they looked like they were having a ball, so we joined in.
We walked over to Jane’s but stayed way in the back so we could scoot back to Moonshine quickly and catch moe.’s last set from up close. It was a perfect set and – as expected – dance party #4! We danced the night away sharing swigs from a bottle of Jameson and soaking in the last bits of Summer Camp… because, as always, it just went too fast.
Saturday morning the crowds began to rise, but I’d been up for hours thanks to sunrise kickball (see my other post on that!). I spent the morning writing and posting photos in the Summer Camp offices in the church, and by 1pm I was on my way…
First I headed over to the Starshine stage and stumbled upon a game of capture the flag for Field Day. Being a proud member of team Red and seeing that they were short some players, I jumped in to help. Unfortunately, the Red team was eliminated pretty early on when the Yellow team crept into our home base to get the flag… we’ll get ya next year, Yellow.
A few more steps, and I was at my first show of the day, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Their bio lists them as a “post-punk soul band”, and I think that’s a really accurate description. JC Brooks himself has stage presence like nothing I’ve ever seen… in 90 degree heat and a full-on suit, he kept the crowds entertained and dancing – it was a great way to start the day!
Next up, I met up with some of my buddies at the VIP bar for burgers, margaritas, and playing some bags.
Gov’t Mule had a really solid set at Moonshine, and the dust was really raging with the dancing. I like Mule, but I love Umphrey’s, so I left a little early to get a good spot and be ready to rage. For me, I actually like the second set of Umphrey’s the most, and they’d pretty much stole my heart when I heard Rush’s Tom Sawyer start pelting through the field.
All day I’d been looking forward to Brain Damaged Eggmen late night in the Red Barn, and boy it did not disappoint. It was a non-stop dance party and such a happy crowd.
Walking home through the darkness, I stumbled upon this artist working on a mural outside of the Soulshine Tent, and was reminded once again why Summer Camp is the happiest place on earth…
If you’re particularly good at staying up all night (or waking up really early), you can catch sunrise kickball on Saturday. The sun was already up at 6am when the group converged on the grass towards the back of the Sunshine Stage viewing area, and about 200 people were there and ready to play.
I stayed mostly on the sidelines – the collective outfield, really – where you main job is to catch any ball that comes your way. The mad dash to get on deck to kick was pretty impressive each inning, and I’m not entirely sure how teams went (or really if anyone cared).
The real gem of kick ball is Ryan. Ready to rock in a red kimono and a speedo, he twirled his mustache before throwing out pitches (side note, he’s a really good pitcher). The crowd loves him, and couldn’t wait to show off their skills and earn a high-five or a hug from him for a job well done.
It’s not easy to make it to morning kickball, but if you ever find yourself stumbling from the Red Barn back to your campside and the sun is coming over the horizon, toss down a Red Bull and head over to kickball for an hour. You’ll be happy that you did!