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.
After all, it’s for the kids!
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.
Enter This Must Be The Band.
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.
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.
Stop Making Sense Photos
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.
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.
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!
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
there is a loneliness to this discovery
this hamster wheel is all I’ve ever known
if I become a refugee of my culture,
could I still feel love?
have I ever really felt love before?
my eyes widen
my fate is unsealed
I inhale my destiny
there is no room for apathy in responsibility,
it is a long enough word already
This weekend Phish will be taking over Chicago for a three night run at Northerly Island. With Saturday already sold out, Kuroda sporting a new light rig, and a completely revamped venue, this is bound to be a throwdown! But the party doesn’t stop there! Quite a few Summer Camp favorites are playing late night shows all around Chicago this weekend. Here’s a little heads up on some don’t-miss late nights for those of you heading to Phish….
Friday night the funk machine better known as Dumpstaphunk will be playing the House of Blues in Chicago. Their newest album, Dirty Word (available for pre-order), is about to drop at the end of the month, so this late night is guaranteed to get DIRTY!!! ”We are touring in support of the new Album, so people will definitely hear new material,” says drummer Nikki Glaspie. Not to mention that the HOB is one of the few venues in the Midwest to have a spring floor, which means you have no choice but to get down the minute the music starts and getting down is exactly what NOLA’s Dumpstaphunk is known for.
Chicago holds a special place in Dumpsta history. It was at the Mid back in 2011 that drummer, Nikki Glaspie, played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk. In two short years she has brought the band to a whole other level. This late night will be a funky dance party through and through. What a great way to kick off the weekend!
If you are not familiar, Gamehenge was the setting of a musical masterpiece Trey Anastasio developed in college for his senior year project way back in 1987. It is basically the story of a man on a journey to get the goods. I won’t give away too much, but lets just say this album was the platform on which Phish was constructed. So in the same fashion that Phish grew into the beast it is today, Spread throws down some heavy improvisation in every song they play. They are guaranteed to split open the Hard Rock Cafe and we might even get a ”Wiiiillllllsoooon” tease thrown in the mix.
Finally, Summer Camp’s favorite late night act is doing what they do best by providing a Talking Heads dance party until the wee hours of the morning. This Must Be The Band will be playing Martyrs 7/20 and 7/21. Their first set on both Saturday and Sunday will be all request, where the loudest person in the crowd gets to choose what gets played next (so long as it’s Talking Heads music). The second set each night will be Speaking in Tongues, note by note. How neat is that?!
Needless to say, Summertime Chi is in full swing, SCampers! This weekend is going to be the type where the party just doesn’t stop…. So get out there and get your groove on!
On Friday afternoon at Summer Camp 2013 the good people at Scamp HQ asked if I wanted to interview a dubstep DJ. I had no time whatsoever to prepare and I was not really familiar with his sound. On top of that, this was actually the first interview I have ever done with any artist EVER! Not knowing a thing about dubstep, I jumped right and just let it flow. I knew what I was getting myself into when I first applied to be a Counselor at Summer Camp, so this was my make it or break it moment. Needless to say, I channeled my inner Oprah and enjoyed every minute of it!
Minnesota is a young dubstep/glitch hop DJ that is based out of California. Originally from Minnesota, this Midwest dude doesn’t take himself too seriously which was a huge relief once I actually sat down to talk with him outside the church. We covered a lot in the short time I interviewed him, from his Midwest roots to playing festivals all around the country. He has opened for many of our favorite Summer Camp artists including STS9 and he will even be playing with Lotus at Red Rocks in September. In the meantime, he will be dropping bass all over the country this summer including Spring Awakening next weekend in Chicago.
I could probably write a book about my 2013 Summer Camp experience. There is a variety pack of blogs I have planned for the future and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite vendors, festy food, and artist interviews with my all my Scamp family.
For now, I want to share a video that pretty much sums up my time at this year’s Scamp. This whole process has been a very different experience than anything I have ever done before. I have never blogged, interviewed artists, shot and edited a video, or documented any part of a music festival before. While I am still learning quite a bit, I feel like I represented my favorite parts of Summer Camp the best I could. My goal from the beginning was to capture my favorite aspects of Camp while still staying true to the scene.
Please enjoy this video recap for Summer Camp 2013 and keep checking back because there is a TON more I want to show you!
Laser Guided Visions is a vendor you just might see at every music festival you go to. They specialize in hologram art in the form of posters, business cards, and even wearable accessories. Basically, they bring 3D interactive art to clothing so you can showcase these awesome designs everywhere you go.
My favorite hologram accessory is the flat brim hat that features the amazing art of Luke Brown or Alex Grey. The artwork is converted to a hologram format and is then attached to a custom designed Grassroots hat. The hologram gives these hats a very unique psychedelic aesthetic unlike any other hat out there.
You can visit their website for more information on where to find more hologram art at LaserGuidedVisions.com/ .
Since last summer I have been noticing these holograms everywhere I go and I wanted to investigate a little further. I was able to talk with Raja, the man behind the holograms, at Summer Camp 2013. Check out the video…it is HYSTERICAL!!!
“Facemelt” is a word commonly used at Summer Camp Music Festival but it seems most of the general public has no idea exactly what we are talking about. As a Summer Camp CIT, I thought I might be able to shed a little light on the word’s meaning by asking fellow Summer Campers to define “facemelt” and give some examples of when their faces have melted in the past.
Check out the hysterical video here.