At five o’clock, the Summer Camp Counselors in Training met up with one another in the Chapel. Yes, there is a pretty little church on site at Three Sisters Park. *Try explaining to your friends that you needed to go to a church at the festival to meet up with camp counselors without them thinking you’re tripping. This chapel would literally become sanctuary for the counselors – we could charge our phones and cameras, use the indoor bathrooms, and interview rock stars (all this is off limits to you non-counselor types so maybe you should keep an eye out for next year’s contest!).
Anyway, it was awesome to finally meet all these folks. Nick Stock, who won the contest, is just a bubbling concoction of tie-dye majesty – a total rock star. Taraleigh Weathers was also an amazing soul to connect with, along with Joe Snacker-Albin and Natalie Fletcher – each bringing their own spice to this project. And Jeff Greenswag… well, let’s just say Jeff is the pirate of Summer Camp – a swashbuckling partygoer who I had wanted to meet since I split my side open laughing at his first contest submission: a parody of the Family Matters intro. These guys all rock so be sure to read and watch their highlights here.
So here’s my experience on the subject I’m sure you care the most about: music.
Ali Baba’s Tahini
After the meeting, the musical adventure began. Jeff and I made our way to see Ali Baba’s Tahini – a band I’ve been listening to since I fell into love with Umphrey’s McGee but had never seen live. These guys were fun and really got my blood pumping for the rest of the night. They’ve got this ska like sound and Jake shreds like a madman. I think Karl Engelmann made a ball buster at Brendan Bayliss about stealing Jake from the band – he said something funny.
Family Groove Company
Hot damn guys. Family Groove straight up killed it. One of my favorite sets of the weekend hands down. Just dirty, tight funk that had people groovin’ and movin’ from first note to last. This was my first time seeing Family Groove Company and I wasn’t sure what to expect but man, it was good. They raged a cover of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues and brought in the darkness with their sunset session. The bass lines and guitar solos coming from this gang particularly captivated me. By the end of the night, I had a pretty strong buzz going on (those 312′s just go down so smooth – a perfect festival session beer) and I ended up bumping into Adam Lewis in the VIP tent (yet another perk to getting a VIP pass next year folks!) and had a chance to shake his hand and thank him for making me smile from ear to ear throughout this set. Family Groove: If you’re reading this, please come out west – we’ll love you here.
Totally unscheduled. A couple friends pitched their tent stage-right of the Sunshine Stage and we’re just chilling out when I hear Bayliss’ voice. Bam – we’re up in a flash. Before I knew it, I was hit with a Partyin’ Peeps and it was all over.
I caught 30db last year in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall and also at Mayan Holidaze earlier this year. Jeff Austin and Brendan Bayliss come together for what can only be described as acoustic, feel good, messin’ around music (at least that’s how I’m going to describe it). Seeing them late night at the Campfire Stage was a treat and added to the fun of the whole event. I mean, this is total campfire music. The show was intimate and hilarious. Both those guys are seriously talented musicians with little to no seriousness in their personalities.
Whoa. Seriously Summer Campers, keep an eye out for these youngsters. Papadosio is getting big quick and after catching their late night set tonight, it’s no wonder why. These guys definitely bring a smooth and organic trance sound – clearly drawing on STS9 and Lotus as influences but also bringing a very unique and progressive sound to the scene. Inside the barn, they helped me warm up as it was starting to get awfully chilly outside.
Boombox is super fun. You like funk? You like soul? Sick of “dubstep” djs? Then Boombox is probably right up your alley. I made my way over to the 312 Vibe tent to catch the Boombox DJ set after Papadosio. I didn’t stay too long – just a few songs to get my groove on. I also caught their Friday set and these guys do a super fun cover of Shakedown Street – I wouldn’t even call it a cover: they make it theirs. It was getting close to 4 AM and I always try to keep in mind Brendan Bayliss’ words of wisdom: “Remember, it’s a marathon, not a race.” With CIT duties ahead of me, I thought it best to head back to the tent and catch a few zzz’s before things really start moving. *
So now I’m in my tent, typing away as the sun struggles to break it’s way open.
Counselor in Training
For those of you who travel, I’m gonna be starting this Thursday blog with Wednesday. I think we finally got the car packed up and we got on the road around 7:30 mountain time. Coming to Chillicothe from Colorado, well, now that I think of it, coming to Chillicothe from anywhere is not the most scenic of drives. Vast flat expanses, smells of poop, it can get pretty boring. Fortunately Kelly mentioned the “Swift” game…anyone who spots and calls out a Swift truck on the interstates gets a point…ties are half points, like sacks in the NFL. For some reason though, driving through the night, listening to music, we were all a little too excited to sleep and talked through most of the drive. As we approached Chillicothe, the weather went from bad to ok to not so good again, and when we got there, we could see what the weather days before had done. It was gonna be a mudfest…get your boots on.
We arrived around 12:30 and got through the ticket line relatively quickly, I was at my site and set up by about 3. The next couple hours were spent reacquainting myself with the grounds, deciding which food vendors I’d frequent, meeting up with friends as I walked the campsites, and ultimately I met all the other Counselors in Training. What an amazing group of kids. We all come to this festival from different parts of the country and from different occupations; it was no surprise that we had different music tastes. If you are into more of the rock and electronic stuff those are the bands I was seeing and who I’ll mostly be talking about…Anyway, we were debriefed by the amazing Holly Brinkman. If you know her, you know how much she does for Summer Camp and the CIT program. Thanks Holly for making this possible. After getting somewhat of an understanding of what I was supposed to be doing over the weekend (I’ve never “covered” an event before) I set out to see my first show.
Ali Baba’s Tahini was awesome. It was great to see where Jake got his start…well, that’s not true, but to see that band that ended up becoming a big part of Umphrey’s sound was very cool. It was kind of a playful rockabilly vibe to it with a lot of good grooves setting up Jake for some nice guitar work. The guy on keys was slaying and could hang with Jake musically. Overall they were a real fun band who I would definitely go see again. I was lucky enough to walk in on a Got Your Milk (Right Here) which I found to be pretty much the same as Umph plays it. I went back to my site for a minute after that to check in on the rest of my people (wolfpack) who’d be trickling in over the next day and a half. The site was almost ready to go. About 6 of our 13 were there, 3 canopies for the living room/kitchen, about 15 chairs, rope lights (there’s power in the forest…you just gotta find it). I really feel like this was one of our best set ups yet. We didn’t bring so much it was a pain to set up, didn’t bring too much food. Just lots of “soda” and “juice”…
Anyway, we set out to see Brainchild but made a quick stop to see Family Groove Company. Now, I went to the University of Illinois from 02-06 and I remember seeing FGC a lot. Those guys continue to play great show after great show and the stage they were on and the attendance they received was evidence of their continued efforts to be one of the hardest working bands out there. Always upbeat with a great rock feel I love the way FGC jams. If you know ‘em, you know what I know, if you don’t, you should. Down at the campfire stage (where the fire was yet to start, I presume due to the wetness) Roy Ponce, his mustache and Brainchild were destroying. Those guys can really play. And If you are into a sound that changes on a dime with great tension and release build ups, then Brainchild is for you. After Brainchild it was on to a little bit of Cornmeal. Allie is so stunning and such an amazing fiddle player, that, despite my general lack of interest in bluegrass and related genres, I rarely miss Cornmeal play. And you know what, every time I see them I enjoy them a little more. This time was no exception. I love the way they can bring their whole band to this central place that is darker and heavier and then through their jam build it up and out to a twang explosion…like I said, this is my first attempt at blogging to if some of the things I say are weird, well, I don’t know what I’m doing.
By this time, we needed to go back to the site again for one more recharge, we met up with about 5 more of the wolfpack, we drank some more “juice” and “soda” (got to stay hydrated) and we set out for the rest of the night. We made it back to the campfire around 10:15 and saw about 30 minutes of the Pimps of Joytime. Now I have known about these guys for a few years now, maybe 4 or so, and they are awesome. If you like a kind of new school electro funk with a lot of soul then you should have been at this show. Pimps of Joytime are always a fun time and a dance party, which was great to warm up for what we were to experience next.
The first Red Barn “late night” it was only 11:00pm, was one of my favorite bands at the festival, Digital Tape Machine. What an awesome show. I interviewed Marcus Rezak, guitar player for DTM and he was saying that they tried to base a lot of their music on the video games of our youths. Well they did not accomplish that because I felt like I was in the video games of the future. These guys are super talented musicians, with Joel and Kris from UM they pull a lot of attention. But the beats are amazing, super danceable and usually up-tempo and every once in a while they will throw in a neo classical guitar riff or even complete breakdown that makes you remember there’s people up there and they are ROCKING. I hear DTM could be gearing up to tour some in the next year or so, so be on the look out.
After having my hair blown back in the barn I stepped outside for a couple hours of some of the best stage banter you will ever hear, and the music ain’t bad either. 30db is Brendan Bayliss and Jeff Austin’s project that came together at a time that was really difficult for both of them. But from this shared time they created some awesome songs. They play them together like two guys happy to be beyond that stage in their lives often sharing a lot of whiskey as well, only increasing the hilarity of their aforementioned stage banter. What a great way to wind down the first night of the festival. I had been up for about 42 hours at this point and decided to head back to the site to crash. Like any experienced festival goer I brought my landing gear; put my “ear plugs” on and slid gently into sleep. Goodnight Summer Camp.
Counselor In Training
I have a confession to make. I’ve never experienced the warm, exciting, and often wet beauty that is Summer Camp.
It’s true. I’m a 26 year old, Summer Camp Virgin.
To be clear, I’m a festival veteran, and Summer Camp has for years been a bleeping dot on my party radar – relentlessly calling to me each summer with blistering lineups seemingly picked just for me: Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Keller, Toubab Krewe, MMW, the list goes on. But work, school and living in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and San Francisco over the last 10 years have made it impossible for me to attend (I know, it’s a weak excuse). However, I’m proudly popping my Summer Camp cherry and going all out as a Counselor In Training (CIT) in 2011. My experience will be well documented with blog posts, video highlights and photos.
For my first duty as a CIT, I’ve been asked to tell you all what I’m most excited about for Summer Camp. Aside from meeting up with friends that I haven’t seen in months or even years, it seems that Sunday’s late night STS9/EOTO set has definitely got my Summer Camp panties wet with anticipation. Over the years, STS9 has carved a special place in my heart and ear drums. I’ve traveled as far as Mexico to see these boys make music and was more than sad when the band’s February stop at the Fox Theater in Oakland was canceled due to David Murphy’s health (glad to know he’s bounced back and kicking ass once again!). Plus, the last time I saw a truly late night STS9 set was Camp Bisco 8 – an epic evening of mud mixed with underwater electricity and a band clearly feeding off of crowd energy – so I’m overdue for a raging night of exuberant auditory indulgence from these guys.
EOTO has quickly become one of my favorite bands to see live. In fact, I’m quite sure they’re currently the band that makes me smile the most while watching them perform. The improvisation, connectivity and light show extravagance of a late night EOTO show is unmatched by any other. What these two guys do on stage together is so unique, complicated, and inspiring. Keller Williams recently wrote a description of his experience from EOTO’s stop at The National in Richmond, VA that really sums up how I feel about the band. Jason Hann is one of the most versatile drummers on the planet. Combine his talents with the exploratory creativity of Michael Travis, you’ve got a show that makes every dubstep dj on the planet want to crawl under a rock and hide. Summer Camp hit the nail on the head when they put this late night show together.
So yeah – you’ll see me at the late night STS9/EOTO set and you’ll also find me repping Team Blue in Bocce and Tug of War. If you don’t see me in those places, I’m likely at the 312 beer tent. On Saturday at 4:30PM, I’ll be participating in a discussion panel titled “A War on Us: Why the drug war effects everyone” and I hope you’ll come check it out!
Armed with a Flip Cam, I’ll be sure to take video of my escapades and compile it into a memorable recap of my Summer Camp christening. What will I call it? Perri does Summer Camp? How about Four Nights in Chillicothe? We’ll see, my friends, we’ll see. Regardless, I’ll be sure to wear protection as I penetrate the gloriousness of Summer Camp for the first time!
Summer Camp Counselor In Training (CIT)
I have two homes and they are roughly 5 hours apart. I take the freeway and back country roads to get from one to the other and when I finally arrive I find a sea of cars, a river of bodies and personal belongings waiting patiently to enter, and a land of pure joy and fond memories that last for years to come…….Summer Camp Music Festival!!!! My heart pounds in my chest with excitement as I enter this amazing land and all I can think about is all the things I cant wait to do and see. It is hard to depict what I am most excited for when I hear some awesome beats coming from the campfire stage, I notice the amazing decorations differentiating from campsite to campsite as I mosey my way to the friends that await me, I can already smell the mixture of dirt and sweat you grow accustomed to throughout the four days that most people don’t use to shower, and I just smirk at all the outrageous outfits with colors that stick out from hundreds of feet away. As I venture through the Summer Camp lands and notice all these immaculate aspects of the festival, I think about all those things and come to realize what they all have in common and what I am most excited for, the people who make up the fest.
The beings that walk around and play music and entertain you with flames or hula hoops have truly got to be the thing I look forward to the most. All of them are what make the festival what it is to me. Famous or not, you all stand on the same level on my pedestal, #1. I love all of the different personalities that come together from different parts of the country and help make an amazing experience for one another. For example, just this last New Years at Umphrey’s in Chicago I met two amazing girlies (you know who you are) from New York that I immediately fell in love with. Because of the power of the internet and Summer Camp I am going to get to see these girls again and rage with them during that band that united us. It’s things like that that add one more butterfly to the large meadow that settles in my stomach. Everyone of course has friends and/or siblings that bring their friends that bring their friends that bring their friends to all unite into a small community of giggles and experiences to share with one another until the next year when we do it all over again. And then that brings me to the neighbors you run into throughout the fest that share the stories and laughs of how awesome that last moe. set was, or how out of no where, your best friend puked all over some random person’s tent (the tent was apologized to) and you felt bad but could do nothing but laugh at their expense. I love how you can pick out the courageous ones who you envy for having that ‘I don’t give a hoot’ attitude because they walk around topless or for the men who take comfort and pride in wearing a skirt. Man do I love people.
When thinking about an amazing festival a lot of people including myself are super stoked for that one bad (or many bands) that they are the most stoked to see. That is usually after all what brings people together. Don’t get me wrong, the bands are the ultimate reason I am going. Yonder, Keller, Widespread, Umphrey’s, Girl Talk, Steez, STS9, Moe and I could just go on and on but it’s the people in those bands that get you excited to be there. A band can have good music but put on a crappy show but at Summer Camp all the bands that I have had a privilege to see have been just as pumped to be there as I have been. You can tell by the way that Stasik smiles at Bayliss when the crowd gets super pumped over hearing one of the many segues that Umphrey’s is infamous for or the intense yet entertaining faces that Austin sports when getting down and dirty on the mandolin. It all just makes me think of how I love people.
So when you see me at the fest, come say hi because its what I am looking forward to the most.
Summer Camp Counselor In Training (CIT)