A week into the new year, it’s time to look ahead to all of the musical excitement that this year has to offer. But first, it’s always fun to reflect back on the year I just had…
After 2012, I had been to 105 total concerts – which isn’t too many, I know – but considering I’ve been an athlete my entire life I have other priorities that take precedence over live music! 2013, however, was a milestone year for me in music as I fortunate enough to attend 45 shows, nearly twice as many as I saw in 2012. A lot of this is due to my first ever attendance of a camping festival (Summer Camp), and then of course my annual celebrations at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Let’s start with…
The Most Frequent Bands I Saw in 2013
Roster McCabe – 9 shows: I’ve written extensively about this band (now known as Night Phoenix) before, so this is nothing new. The Midwest “electro-rock” tours heavily throughout the year and I was able to catch them 9 times, putting my career tally at 20 Roster McCabe shows.
Umphrey’s McGee – 4 shows: No surprise here – my first UM show occurred in 2004 when I was just 12 years old. In 2013 I was at all 3 Scamp shows and also their set at Summerfest, making it 4 on the year. I have seen the improg group at least once every year since ’07.
Michael Franti & Spearhead – 2 shows: My favorite feel good musical choice, Michael Franti & Spearhead rolled through the Midwest in 2013 in support of his latest album, All People. I caught the “rebel rocker” at the Minneapolis State Fair in late August and about a month later in Madison with Moon Taxi.
Nahko & Medicine for the People – 2 shows: I had never heard of this band until about a week before they showed up in La Crosse, WI for a show at my favorite bar The Popcorn Tavern, which was a memory I’ll write about further down the page. A similar sound to Michael Franti and Matisyahu, Nahko just has a radiance of good vibes glowing off him that the rest of the band and crowd feeds off of.
Other notable acts: Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Moon Taxi, moe., Victor Wooten & Friends, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, Dark Star Orchestra, 311, EMEFE, Steez, and Dark Star Orchestra covering The Rolling Stones.
My Top 5 Shows of 2013:
Of the 9 shows I saw Roster McCabe perform in 2013, why this one? Perhaps because it was only one set, which means it was a straight up dance party. Also, this was on Thursday at Summer Camp – the pre-party – so it was just a great way to set the tone for the entire weekend. The Camping Stage was a great spot right on the outskirts of the woods to draw in all the campers – and everyone LOVED it! The crowd didn’t stop moving through the entire – most of them unaware of Roster – but loved discovering a new band to get down to. They closed the set with a cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky that turned into a frenzy.
4) Umphrey’s McGee, 2013-07-02 Summerfest – Big Backyard
So many great things about this show. My hometown, in the front row with all my friends, Kevin Sinclair sit-in, Pink Floyd cover, 4 song encore (!!!) that included rarity Dear Lord, this show is a must download!
3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 2013-06-28 Summerfest – Marcus Amphitheater
This was my 6th Tom Petty show, and possibly my last. A sell-out crowd at the Amp sang along with all the hits and had great energy, as always. Petty loves Milwaukee, he makes that very clear every time he comes (all 6 times I’ve seen him came at Summerfest) and even showed a surprising amount of improv jams in a couple songs!
2) Trey Anastasio Band, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Sunshine Stage
This would be #1 if not for the unfortunate fact that the show was cut short. Due to the extreme rainstorm. But wow. This was my most listened to show of the year by far. I can’t imagine a better band to make such miserable weather conditions tolerable.
1) Everyone Orchestra, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Red Barn
The lineup included Victor Wooten, Joel Cummins, Al Schnier, Vinnie Amico, Allie Kral, Alex Steele, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier and a few other I can’t remember, all conducted my Matt Butler. This show just completely blew my away from start to finish. 100% improv! What else could you ask for from an all-star lineup?!
Conclusion and Looking Towards 2014
The only regret I have from 2013 is that I didn’t get to see my all time favorite band, Phish. I had tickets for all 3 nights in Chicago but unfortunately it didn’t work out with some other things that popped up. I have a good feeling they’ll return to Alpine Valley for 2 nights this summer though!
2014 will be a great year. Of course Summer Camp already has an amazing lineup announced and it will only get better. Particle reunited and is on a heavy tour for 2014 – don’t miss out on these guys! One of the founding bands of the electronic jam scene next to the Disco Biscuits and STS9.
Happy new year, and see ya on the road!
And just like that, we’re on to the last day of Summer Camp. Last night consisted of another marathon of music and good times while trekking through all the mud throughout the grounds. I saw Victor Wooten, a humbling experience, in the VIP lounge jamming with some special guests. After some dancing at Thievery Corporation, I went to check out both sets of one of my long time favorite bands, Umphrey’s McGee. A rainy first set did nothing to stop the crowd of Umphreaks dancing and raging along on the Sunshine stage. The second set featured one of my all time favorite concert moments: during the buildup of their Der Bluten Kat jam, some fans started blasting off fireworks. The band quickly got on cue and coordinated their jam, and of course Jeff Waful synchronized the lights to create a mesmerizing moment that seemed to last hours. One of the great things I’ve witnessed about Umphrey’s is their uncanny ability to just pull you in, capture your attention and consume you completely in their flow of the jam, and leave you stunned and jaw dropped. Face melting at its finest.
After Umphrey’s I was able to catch most of the second set of moe on the Moonshine stage. During this set I decided the Moonshine is most definitely the coolest stage of the three big ones here at Scamp. The slope incline of the lawn combined with the surrounding trees and hanging canopies create an intimate feeling that connects the crowd more with the band. I’m not all too familiar with many moe. songs at this point, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every moment of the show. For the encore, as a tribute to Umphrey’s covering their Rebubula Friday night, moe. did their own take on UM’s classic tune In the Kitchen. The crowd, as did I, quickly recognized the song and loved the recognition of the co-headliners’ presence of each other. I must admit the end of the song got pretty sloppy with the ending and lyrics, but still another great moment in Summer Camp history.
Thievery Corporation at the Moonshine ^
I also made it to the premiere show of Big Grizmatik, a combination of Big Gigantic, Griz, and Gramatik all playing together in the Red Barn. The intimacy of the Red Barn is great because 1) the band realllly feeds off the crowd’s energy, and 2) it was refreshingly warm in there! Big Grizmatik played a little bit over an hour, with a few Big G songs mixed in with other DJ remixes for a constant dance frenzy.
Video: Big Grizmatik – Fantastic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqnXPapmbck&feature=youtu.be
Looking forward to the last day now here today! Gonna for sure check out Umphrey’s final set, and I heard that guy from Phish is also playing tonight, so I’m sure I’ll see his show
Stay warm and stay dry, Summer Camp!
Can you believe Summer Camp 2013 is ONLY 44 days away? What do you think of the lineup the crew put together this year? Pretty amazeballs if you ask me. The festival mainstays of moe. & Umphrey’s are again front and center holding down headlining spots. But they share some pretty rarified company! The Wood Brothers and The Wailers were late adds that pleased many a camper. The only thing left to figure out is where everyone will be slotted with other great acts like Trey, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Avett Brothers, and YMSB.
I caught Thievery’s NYE show out in Vail as the ball dropped and we rang in 2013 at Dobson Ice Arena. Their mix of house electronic beats along side a live band with amazing female and male vocalists has been heard around the DC area for years. I’m thinking that the late night set with ZEDS DEAD is going to easily rival last years by Pretty Lights. Be sure to get your tickets to the RED BARN late nights while you still can. If not don’t worry they’ll have another set placed strategically throughout the awesome weekend at Three Sisters Park.
What sort of collaborations will we see this year at Camp? Will Trey get down with moe.? Will Yonder and Cornmeal team up? These are the questions that get people excited, and with 44 DAYS to go…let your imagination run wild.
Speaking of who is bringing rage sticks or totems this year? Last year saw some pretty unique creations, and I for one am gonna be scouting for the famous “STOP & GET DOWN” sign along with a host of others. I may give out prizes so be on the lookout for me and when you do see me throw up your best “rage face” for the picture.
I’m really thankful that this year i’ll have time in addition to covering the festival to hang with my band pals Family Groove Company, Old Shoe, Henhouse Prowlers, Afternoon Moon, Chicago Farmer, The Giving Tree Band, The Ragbirds, and Zmick. Friends are what makes the festival experience that much more special and its been almost a year since I hung out with my fellow CIT friends and Camp Counselor from last year. That’s a year TOO long for sure.
Let’s see besides seeing Widespread Panic this weekend at UIC. I’m heading out west on tour with Old Shoe as they play a few Colorado dates at the end of April. If you are around Fort Collins (4/17), Steamboat Springs (4/18), Denver (4/19), or Nederland (4/20) make sure you look up where they are playing on that Facebook thing and get on down to check them out pre SC2013! I’ll even share a tasty local beverage with you (if you are of age of course). Until we meet again at Camp keep your eyes peeled for the schedule and when its released start planning your romp through Three Sisters cause a good time starts with a good plan!
Sooo….the time has come and you’re deciding how you want to spend your sweltering, sexy summer months. You want maragaritas served to you in a disco hoodie with your shiz playing center stage right? Well who the hell doesn’t. Forget the hokey pokey, THAT’S what it’s all about! So, with all of the insane line-up releases coming through these days, why take the drive to out to the woods in ill-town to discover just what Scamp is all about? I’ll give you five killer reasons as a season two scamper: (ya’ll ready?)
- 6am Kickball with Ryan Stasik– ummm yep….it happens at breathtaking summa luva camp. All hungover with elbows and last nights disco shorts and pasties flying. It’s a pretty unforgettable experience….whether you can see well enough to actually kick the ball or not!
- Scamp family– Every festival has their crew, their long-awaited vibe that show up regardless of the year’s strife and shows up with lawn chairs, fire pits, glow in the dark panda bear hats and an extra blanket for you to crash on. There truly is no family like the scamp family (I’m pretty sure a really kick ass music video could be made to that melody this year…oooh)
- Thievery Corporation…yah THIVERY is bringing their ambiant funk chillaxness to us! No further explanation needed…
- Stepping it up to make it a truly green festy scene– We all love our mother right? And it’s more and more important that we take care of her, even when we’re gettin’ it on the flo’ to moe, yah? With bio-diesel generators, color-coded recycling for compost and garbage, and off-setting carbon emission, Summa’ Camp is keeping it real right along with us!
- If you could spend a weekend seeing a lil’ Big Boi sexiness followed by cream your face UM love and sit down and groove all in it with moe. would you? Don’t even try to say no! You crazy! And aint nobody got time for that! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFEoMO0pc7k