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!
Give our announcement video a watch, or learn about each artist here. And stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter as May approaches, because we aren’t done! More artists will be announced – over 75 bands on 7 stages!
This year I ended my festival season with a bang by making the trek from MI all the way to Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA for the first ever Lockn’ Music Festival. What I found special about this particular event was the stacked line-up of epic jam mixed in with the idea of making the music never end in a seamless fashion. I was determined to not miss this one.
Luckily I got hooked up with a photo pass and had the time of my life shooting some of the most amazing artists all weekend long. In case you weren’t aware, Lockn’ featured three sets from both Furthur and The String Cheese Incident including special guest appearances and collaborations all weekend long. Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio Band, Zac Brown, John Foggerty, The Black Crowes, and Tedeschi Trucks give you a good sense of what the festival entailed.
What made the festival so amazing for me was the fact that it was the first opportunity I have had to photograph many of these legendary artists. I was definitely one of the happiest souls in the photo pits all weekend long.
My favorite moment of the weekend was when Trey Anastasio came out and performed with Furthur for the first time ever. He helped finish out Casey Jones of Furthur’s rendition of Workingman’s Dead (the entire album) and played other favorites including Scarlet Begonias and Truckin’
I managed to snap some of the best pictures I’ve ever shot. Have a look and get a feel for what Lockn’ was like.
Photo by Brad Hodge
After just a few hours of sleep the sun again shoved me out of my tent. The manicured lawns are great, but it’s essential to bring an easy up or something to protect you from the oppressive Colorado sun. I spent the morning playing disc golf at the impressive Beaver Ranch in Conifer with friends in from Iowa. We got back and played Polish Horseshoes with some of our neighbors. Everything feels a bit slower on day three. There was a leisurely feel to the afternoon as we strolled around the Lot. I finally reconnected with my wife and the rest of my friends just before show time. We took our place just behind the soundboard again and settled in for the final night of Phishmas. This is the third tour closer Colorado has had the pleasure of hosting and they never seem to disappoint. They opened up with a somewhat unusual “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”
Set 1: A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Kill Devil Falls, Back on the Train> Rift, Meat> It’s Ice> Guelah Papyrus, Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Cavern, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan> David Bowie
Set 2: Carini> Birds of a Feather> Golden Age> Prince Caspian*> Piper> Boogie On Reggae Woman> Saw It Again, Mike’s Song> Legalize It**> Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life> Suzy Greenberg
Encore: Character Zero
The band moved from docile to destructive with an unruly “Kill Devil Falls.” “Back On The Train” seems to be getting less airplay these days, so it was nice to see it performed. “Rift” was solid, but the funky “Meat” is what got my attention. “It’s Ice” saw some intricate jamming from Trey, before the song melded into a bubbly “Guelah Papyrus.” “Divided Sky” showcased some of the most intrepid jamming of the entire show. During the moment of silence the crowd exploded. “Funky Bitch” was a bass driven dance party. For the second possibly third time in a row, I witnessed Trey execute “Cavern” without dropping any lyrics. This is an impressive feat to say the least. Phish closed their first set with a heavy “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” into a deep jam on “David Bowie.” They went to the dark side before the lights went out for the set.
They continued that sinister tone by coming back with “Carini.” The second set featured some of the best transitional jams of the entire run showing some real creativity in the process. Phish broke into a tight “Birds of a Feather” before heading to the lighter side with “Golden Age.” “Prince Caspian” was left unfinished, but “Piper” went off the rails. Phish sounds like a band firing on all cylinders. They are a well-oiled, well-maintained group playing somewhat succinctly at times but always with authority. “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was funky and full of bounce. Phish went into an unexpected “Saw It Again,” which was a first for me. Afterwards they took a slight breather before going into an interesting Mike’s Groove. The meat of the sandwich was Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It,” which was a debut cover for the band. Three days and three premiere covers… This was obviously a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 here in Colorado. “Show Of Life” is the type of song that makes random people hug in the audience at the end of a three-day run. They closed with a beautiful “Suzy Greenberg.” The “Character Zero” encore was clean and without much fanfare… And just like that it was over.
Phish loves Dick’s. It’s apparent to anyone who has seen their connection with the fans over the course of three years. Again, it’s not because this is some magical soccer field in the mountains. Quite the opposite actually, it’s a sporting stadium in the heart of Commerce City. It’s also home to a massive oil refinery, which pumps out 90,000 barrels a day. The smog can clearly be seen with each sunset. That being said it’s the only outdoor venue with that type of capacity in the Denver area. It’s super convenient for travel and everyone that wants to gets inside. The band’s connection with Dick’s is with the fans that come back each year. No one knows how much longer Phish will spend Labor Day Weekend in the comfy confines of Dick’s, but I hope that it’s something that will last for the foreseeable future.
Photo by Brad Hodge
The campground was ablaze with activity as the fans filtered out of the venue and into the night. Massive lights on huge towers illuminated the trail as vendors fired up grills and peddlers peddled . The party would go well into the dusk as fans celebrated the first of three days of Phishmas. Saturday was another hot day with the sun forcing us out of the tent and seeking the shade before 9 AM. We headed over to a hotel where our Chicago crew was staying. The pool was complete with giant inflatable floats that varied from swan to tyrannosaurus rex. After a relaxing afternoon we spent a little time on the lot with friends before heading inside. The Dick’s Lot is well known for it’s free atmosphere and acceptance to vending. The Shakedown Street stretches over across six rows and features every ware imaginable. The rendezvous was set and we were on the floor for the next two nights. We posted up directly behind the soundboard, which you could see directly through and the sound is the best the floor had to offer.
They opened with a now vintage “Buried Alive” that was a first for me personally. This instrumental jam signified that we were about to get submerged in some serious Phish-i-ness.
Set 1: Buried Alive, AC/DC Bag> Wolfman’s Brother, Yarmouth Road, Fee> Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, Halley’s Comet> Bathtub Gin, Bouncing Around the Room, Mound, Gumbo> Run Like An Antelope
Set 2: Chalkdust Torture*, Light-> 46 Days> Steam-> Free, Joy> Also Sprach Zarathustra> Tweezer> Backwards Down the Number Line
Encore: On The Road Again**> Tweezer Reprise
The show that followed was of the highest caliber and the first set especially was just jaw dropping. They kicked it into high gear with “AC/DC Bag” into a funky “Wolfman’s Brother.” The second night of any three-night run seems to have a feeling of unity between the crowd and the band. Everyone is locked in and ready to rage. Yarmouth Road debuted this year and this was my first chance to catch it live. This song is another product of the Muraski-Gordon collaboration. “Fee” off of Junta has become a somewhat rare track, but it seems to come out about once a year. It was very welcomed by the crowd. “Halfway to the Moon” saw a sinister groove juxtaposed against the delicate vocals of Mr. Page McConnell. “The Wedge” has appeared at all of the Dick’s runs, which makes a little sense, but this version saw some extended drum work from Fishman. “Halley’s Comet” into “Bathtub Gin” was a real highlight, and it could have easily been the close to the set. Little did fans know, but Phish was far from done. “Bouncing” was a nice addition and a real crowd pleaser. “Mound” went into the stratosphere with some epically dark jams before fans caught their breath with “Gumbo.” Again a favorite that could have been a nice button on the set, but Phish was not done. They went into a heavy “Run Like An Antelope” to close out this unbelievable set of music.
Friends mingled about in the crowd waiting for the boys from Vermont to return. The lights dimmed after a short break and it was time for round two. Phish opened with a absolutely astonishing “Chalkdust Torture.” Stretching over twenty-three minutes this may have been the best version I’ve ever seen live. Friends asked me several times, “Are they still playing ‘Chalkdust’?” The “Manteca” tease was a nice touch as well. They let the wheels go and took everyone on a real musical journey with this version. They went into “Light” and I wondered if we would be witnessing a three-song set, but it was cut short. “46 Days” was rock-tastic and melted down into an S-show nod “Steam.” Phish nailed another rowdy tune “Free” before an oddly timed “Joy” that seemed to extinguish part of the fire they were building. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” woke everyone back up, but again felt a little rushed. “Tweezer” was anything but hurried and showcased some stellar bass work from Mike. They closed with a solid “Backwards Down The Number Line,” which would have definitely felt like they were refrencing about night one.
Phish encored with another debut cover of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.” It was a bit weird, but also pretty enjoyable to watch. The prerequisite “Tweeprise” ended the show. We ducked out quickly as they finished up. Just days before Phish was scheduled to arrive in Denver, Leftover Salmon announced they would be performing an after show at Cervantes. So we packed it up and headed towards the illuminated skyline of Denver.
Photo by Brad Hodge
For the third consecutive year Phish has opted to close out their summer with a run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Arena in Commerce City, Colorado. Also for the third consecutive year they choose to add a secret message to their Friday setlist. After a great night with Everyone Orchestra we headed to the campground around 1 PM. The manicured soccer fields in the south lawn of Dick’s were reminiscent of the polo fields that surround Coachella. We set up camp and relaxed in the afternoon sun as we anticipated what might be in store.
The week leading up to the shows were filled with excitement and an eagerness to rage. Friends flew in from all around the country. As soon as we were parked and set up we began meeting our neighbors. It became obvious that the Dick’s run has become a destination event. We met people from New Jersey, California, and all throughout the Midwest. We were in the stands on Friday so we set up shop straight back where the sound is the best.
They came to the stage after 8 PM with a funky Ghost opener. My first reaction was that this was definitely an unusual song to lead out with. I later found that this was their first time opening with “Ghost” since 1998.
Set 1: Ghost, NICU, Icculus, Heavy Things, Theme From The Bottom> Esther, The Moma Dance> Ocelot, Stash, Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb, Easy To Slip*
Set 2: Punch You In The Eye> Sand, Say Something> Walls of the Cave> The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony> Harry Hood**-> Silent In The Morning**> Twist> Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’> Meatstick***
Phish went into a bouncy NICU and immediately our heads start to work out the puzzle, G-N. There had been an online Kickstarter campaign to get a plane to write “Read The Book,” in the sky during their soundcheck on Friday. Apparently the sky writer was cost prohibitive so they settled on a plane pulling a banner with the same message. Apparently they got that message because they launched into a transcendental “Icculus,” which featured a reference to the aviator from Trey. Amy looks over to me and says, “I-N-G… THING it’s SOMETHING backwards.” A very nice and straightforward “Theme From The Bottom” verified this, but it was the “Esther” that pushed fans over the top. Another somewhat rare track that had not been performed in 81 shows, Phish nailed it. Every show seems to reinforce the fact that band is playing as tight as ever before. Their ability to riff off of each other and genuinely have fun on stage is apparent with each song. “Moma” featured a standard funked jam. I told my neighbor they were going to play “Ocelot” next and he seemed mildly impressed when they did. Unlike the last two years, this message was a little subtler and it would be easy to miss if not paying attention. The comparison being that it’ fairly difficult to overlook when your favorite band spells out fuck with their first four songs. “Stash” caught me off guard, but it was happily welcomed. This version was spicy and full of pop. I’ve seen this song played flatly from time to time, so it was nice to see the band stepping it up on this tune. The double hockey sticks combo of “Lawn Boy” and “Limb By Limb” gave fans a chance to breath and ponder where the band was going next. They ended the set with a premiere cover of Little Feat’s “Easy To Slip.” ELL SOMETHING…. Backwards.
We relaxed in the stands and wondered where the boys were headed for set two. After a short setbreak Phish came back with a pungent PYITE. This has to be one of my favorite set openers of all time. It’s like a shot of espresso for any audience. The “Sand” was a full on assault of the senses and included a “2001” tease. This was only the second time Phish performed “Say Something,” which is a new song Gordon wrote with Max Creek ‘s Scott Murawski and debuted at The Gorge this year. A beautiful segue later and I was witnessing the biggest “Walls Of The Cave” I’ve ever seen. It was simply huge. Next they transitioned into a nice “Oh Kee Pa” The jam continued with an unfinished “Harry Hood.” The “Silent In The Morning,” which has not seen it’s trusty steed all year long, was concise and clean. At this point we were left with SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING, and fans wondered what the last bit of the message could be. The “Twist” acted as transitional pivot point before the boys went into a stellar “Slave To The Traffic Light. “ This was a huge period on an incredible set of music. Lots of rare and fun songs mixed with tracks from throughout their entire catalog all highlighted Friday night at Dick’s. The encore included a very rare version of The Velvet Underground’s “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” not seen since the historic 2010 Alpine Valley run and a “Meatstick” that included Japanese lyrics. They wrapped up last year’s “Fuck Your Face” show with “Meatstick” as well. As I said while this show was definitely subtler than the last two opening nights at Dick’s, it was a blast. The message ended up spelling “Most Shows Spell Something,” backwards. It’s a fun little memorandum that is almost poking fun at the gimmicks from the years prior. It again proves that the individual members of Phish are having fun. As I’ve said before, Dick’s is special not because it’s a massive soccer field, but because the 26,000 person capacity allows every fan to get inside and share in the moment. While Friday did not sell out the next two nights did, which proves that the Phish fandom in Colorado is expanding and that Dick’s is becoming something of a yearly festival type run for people from everywhere. One down two to go.
Wait, Trey did what?
That’s right, everyone’s favorite red-headed guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote the music for a recent musical, Hands on a Hardbody, based on the 1992 documentary of the same name. The plot of the musical revolves around a contest held in 1960’s Texas in which contestants try to win a truck by keeping their hand on a truck for the longest period. The score of this musical, like Phish in the music industry, is unique to other Broadway musicals. To me this reflects on the musical writing style of Anastasio, which impressively enough got him a Tony nomination for best music (not bad for a first timer).
Unlike most musicals on Broadway, Hands on a Hardbody has a southern feel to it. Most of the songs have a country theme to it, with an influence of blues and rock as well. There is definite variety within the soundtrack, with different musical theme for a song depending on the character singing it. Two other unique rarities in this musical that I attribute to Anastasio, which really separate Hands on a Hardbody from the rest of Broadway, is that a couple songs are actually acapella. Also, three of the songs in the musical, “Alone with Me,” “It’s a Fix,” and “Joy of the Lord,” are reprised again at a later point, instantly reminding me of Tweezer Reprise. Two of the songs, “My Problem Right There,” and “Burn That Bridge,” I already knew quite well, because the Trey Anastasio Band has performed it on their tour in 2011. To have known those two songs for 2 years and hearing them now placed within the context of a musical was probably one of the stranger moments for my song listening history, but in no way is that a bad thing. It’s also worth noting the guitar riff in the opening track, “Human Drama Kind of Thing,” brought me to an urge to groove along as if I was dancing in the rain again at Summer Camp to TAB’s Mr. Completely.
- Human Drama Kind of Thing
- If I Had This Truck
- If She Don’t Sleep
- My Problem Right There
- Alone With Me
- Burn That Bridge
- I’m Gone
- Uncontrollable Laughter
- Joy of the Lord
- Hunt With the Big Dogs
- Hands on a Hardbody
- Born in Laredo
- Alone With Me Reprise
- It’s a Fix
- Used to Be Me
- It’s a Fix Reprise
- God Answered My Prayers
- Joy of the Lord Reprise
- Keep Your Hands on It
- The Tryers (Bonus Track)
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!
As my eyes adjusted to the light the distinct pitter patter of rain could be heard falling on my tent. It was one of those cool mornings that make you want to re-wrap yourself in blankets, roll over, and go back to sleep. I fought that urge knowing that music would be starting soon and it was time to get ready for the last day of Summer Camp. After the deluge on Saturday along with rain overnight the mud had finally reached an unimaginable level. The roads became a sloppy consistency that made it hard to differentiate between what was a puddle and what was solid ground. Again I have to give credit to the organizers for continuing the show even though the weather and washed out roads made that much more difficult. After getting ready I sought refuge in the Church and waited for the Pickin’ Party to begin.
This was a bluegrass clusterpluck that included members of Floodwood, all of The Henhouse Prowlers, as well as Allie Kral. What followed was some of the best bluegrass that occurred at Summer Camp 2013. It was a blend of all the things that make string music so great. Allie took the unofficial lead talking about playing acoustically and not needing a PA. Ben from Henhouse said, “These songs are all the same… but seriously they kind of are.” He wasn’t so much belittling bluegrass as much as he was pointing out a fact. Much of what the genre is built on is tradition and even though the music can be incredibly innovative it never wanders too far from its central principles. They ran through a series of songs that was enough to warm the heart of any bluegrass fan.
Next it was time for Umphrey’s last set, which was already underway.
Set 1: Slacker, White Man’s Moccasins, Tribute to The Spinal Shaft> Wife Soup, Phil’s Farm, She Caught The Katy*, Dear Lord**, Higgins, Smell The Mitten, August> No Comment> August, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
*w/ Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson
**w/ Luther Dickinson
Umphrey’s performs midday on Sundays, which is the cherry on top of their three days at Summer Camp. A two hour set allows them to stretch out a bit before taking their final bow. This show was fairly straight forward with a couple of amazing sit-ins. They opened with Slacker and soon after that the rain again ceased for the remainder for the afternoon. “Tribute To Spinal Shaft,” Umphrey’s prog-funk tune, was pure sickness. The real highlight of the set was the appearance of Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson on “She Caught The Katy.” This song originally performed by Taj has not been played by UM since Summer Camp in 2011. Luther stayed on for a jam on “Dear Lord.” Jake shredded while Luther slid; it was an awesome sight to behold. They finished their set with a crispy “Miss Tinkle’s Overture.”
As soon as their set was over it was time for moe. on the Starshine stage. This has been their acoustic show for the last few years and it allows for a relaxed vibe to flow out over the crowd. It’s yet another favorite set of mine to see at Summer Camp. After they dialed in their sound moe. opened with “All Roads Lead To Home.”
Set 1: All Roads Lead To Home, Sticks and Stones> St. Augustine, Shoot First> Bring You Down, Tambourine, Four
Stretching just over an hour this seven song romp took the audience through some classic moe. The highlight was the “Sticks and Stones” into “St. Augstine” which featured a great back and forth between Chuck and Al. Jim on vibraphone added a nice touch as well. “Tambourine” took on a completely new feel as Vinnie snapped out the beat on the kit and Rob belted it out for the enthusiastic fans. They closed with another crowd-pleaser, “Four.”
After moe. it was time for another class act, Taj Mahal and his trio. Taj Mahal is blues music and has brought this genre to audiences for nearly 50 years. From his early career with the Rising Sons to his solo work, Taj Mahal has remained a major influence to young and old musicians alike. Taj has also stated he prefers playing outdoor festivals, which is why he seemed right at home at Summer Camp. He played a two-hour set with his band that included Kester Smith on drums and Bill Rich on bass. Taj recently celebrated his seventy-first birthday and he is still going strong. His set at Summer Camp was truly a delight.
John Brown’s Body was up next and these guys are insane. Focusing on a more “spaced-out” sound rooted in the reggae tradition, lead singer Elliot Martin has robust approach to his craft. He moonlights as a dubstep DJ, but JBB is all organic. Their inclusion on the Summer Camp lineup was one more feather in the cap of this festival. They are an energetic face slap that soothes the soul. If you enjoy an innovative approach to roots music check these guys out.
As the Avett Brothers took the stage the skies opened and the rain came down. They started their show with a traditional English folk song, “The Cuckoo Song.”
Set 1: The Cuckoo Song, The Fall, Down With The Shine, Will You Return?, Laundry Room, Old Joe Clark, Reno Lament, Distraction #74, Paranoia in B Flat Major, Live and Die, Got To Sleep, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Life, At The Beach, The Prettiest Thing, Gimmeakiss, Die Die Die, Kick Drum Heart, Geraldine, I and Love and You
Encore: Talk of Indolence
Much of the Avett’s studio work is melancholy, however their live shows are jam packed with gusto. The rain slammed on the stage as crew members hurriedly changed out guitars and banjos between songs. Alternating between drum backed songs and acoustic stand alones, they blasted their way through their ninety-minute set. They played some of their better known songs including “Down With The Shine,” “Laundry Room,” and “Live and Die.” They seemed as energized by the music as their audience. Kids danced in the mud with a vigor rarely seen throughout the entire weekend. At one point I saw a young man making mud angels for no apparent reason. They closed their watery set with “I And Love And Home” before encoring with their rapid spit-fire tune “Talk Of Indolence.” They were truly a high point for the entire festival and a surprisingly great live show.
We made our way backstage to meet up for the Private Camp Counselor Show, but due to the weather it had been moved to a small trailer behind Mooneshine. Kyle and three of his friends got a special show from moe. and Victor Wooten, but there just wasn’t any room for anyone else. I totally understood and was happy that despite the weather Kyle still got his show which included an acoustic “Kyle’s Song” and “The Weight.”
Finally it was time for Trey Anastasio Band. As lightening flashed all around the festival grounds Big Red came to the stage with his group. They wasted no time by opening with “First Tube.”
Set 1: First Tube, Cayman Review, Last Tube, Alaska, Pigtail, Dark And Down, Money Love and Change, Drifting, The Land of Nod, Tuesday, Push On Til the Day
Set 2: Mr. Completely*
*Show ended due to severe weather
Trey and his band consisting of Ray Paczkowski, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, Russ Lawton, Tony Markellis, and James Casey seemed undaunted by the rain. They pressed on with a show that features a stunning series of guitar solos from Trey. He simply shredded his way through “Cayman Review” and “Last Tube.” “Alaska was a real crowd-pleaser and gave the rest of the band a chance to breathe. “Dark And Down” seemed incredibly appropriate and was the song that featured some the most intrepid jamming of their first set. As lightening continued to flash all around the rain subsided momentarily. “The Land of Nod” was epic, but the set-closing “Push On Til The Day” sent this show over the top.
The setbreak went for about 45 minutes, during which time I am assuming crew debated whether or not to let the band back on. Finally, probably from Trey’s insistence they did return. Trey uttered, “You guys are amazing,” as he came back, and as he did fat drops rained down from the sky. Trey and company went into “Mr. Completely,” as a small boy danced furiously on the other side of the rail. The crowd went nuts as the weather we had feared all weekend was finally hitting us. The small child waving his arms defiantly danced on until finally they finished what would be their only song of the second set. Trey walked up and gave the kid a fist bump before he was signaled to stop. He went to the microphone and informed the crowd that they were making him quit, but that he would be back. The audience slowly dwindled down to a few hundred as the steadfast fans, including my wife and myself stayed to see if the band would return. After about a half hour of the worst rain and lightening we had seen all weekend, Ian Goldberg appeared on the stage. “We know who the hardcore fans are…” He told us that unfortunately the rest of the show would be cancelled, but that he hoped moe. would still play their final set. At that moment I was completely soaked. I could not have been wetter if I had fallen into a pool with all my clothes on. We luckily snagged a golf cart ride back to our camp and got dry knowing there was little chance that moe. would be able to perform.
We got a good night’s sleep and awoke to the aftermath of the storm. Tents and gear were scattered all around the grounds and people were desperately trying to get their cars out of the now rut ridden lot. We loaded up our gear and got on the road back to Chicago. The festival seemed to just fizzle out rather than end with the bang many of us are used to. That being said with that much rain and lightening there is little that can be done, and ultimately the safety of the patrons is paramount to the music. Like I said before, I give credit to the promoters of Summer Camp that really only two sets of music were cancelled all weekend. The fact that we encountered so much rain, it would be easy to understand more shows getting cut. This was not the case, because of a high level of organization and perseverance by the staff. Sure we got some mud, but that was a minor inconvenience compared to all the amazing music I witnessed over the course of four days. Memorial Day Weekend in central Illinois is a crap shoot weather-wise. This year we got rain, last year we got sun, that is part of the overall experience at Summer Camp. However no one can complain about the musical collaboration that took place and the wonderful experiences shared by thousands at a tiny park in the middle of miles and miles of farmland. Until next year Summer Camp… Cheers.
Sunday was EASILY the best day of music for me. Also, it was easily the worst day of weather. No way I was gonna let that affect my mood, though, and for many Scampers, it was the same.
I was able to catch Umphrey’s day time show, and they just continue to get better every time I see them, as now this was the 15th show for me. Highlights include a beautiful version of Dear Lord, one of my all time favorites and a rarity, with a sit-in from Luther Dickinson. They closed the set with a rockin’ Miss Tinkle’s Overture. Check out my video of it (right here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0M7GMT3F74&feature=youtu.be
Hands down, the show by The Everyone Orchestra was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Wow. I was just blown away. On stage was Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee on keys, Vinnie Amico, Jim Loughlin, and Al Schnier of moe. on drums, percussion, and guitar, respectively, Victor Wooten on bass, Allie Kral of Cornmeal on violin, Roosevelt Collier on steel guitar, and Alex Steele of Roste McCabe on vocals. There was also another girl on trombone who was just stunningly good, but I am not sure who her name was unfortunately. Of course, it was orchestrated by Matt Butler. For those unfamiliar with The Everyone Orchestra, it is all improv and the jams are literally conducted by Butler as he is leading the artists with the tempos and grooves. Their final jam had some “Love Love Love” lyrics bouncing around that got the crowd going crazy inside the intimate Red Barn.
Finally, there was Trey. Words can’t even begin to describe the musical journey he takes me on every time I see him perform. He came out on stage, did a nice little awkward and goofy half-bow to the crowd, picked up Ocelot (the name of his guitar) and got right into First Tube, a classic song that gets me rocking every time. He didn’t let up from there in his first set got better and better with each song. Unfortunately it was raining for most of the first set, so I didn’t get many pictures or videos, but it let up enough for me to catch the end of “Money, Love, & Change.” Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysUBGexwkKU&feature=youtu.be
His second set was cut short due to the nasty flash flood, which to be honest, came as a sort of relief to me. I found myself at such a predicament because a gust of wind, or Trey’s peak in one of his jams, snapped my umbrella in half. Once that happened I just got SOAKED. I mean soaked. And muddy. But I mean, it’s Trey! During the jam of Push on til The Day, the final song he ended up playing, a small child arose on the shoulders of someone in the front row, and he just danced danced and danced away for all to notice. The crowd cheered him on as he had all the spins and moves, mostly with his arms, and even Trey went up and gave him a high five after the song ended. It reminded me of when Alpine Valley last summer, in which Trey pulled up a bunch of phans on stage during their encore song of Meatstick, showing despite the level of stardom he has reached, he still has the heart and joy of music to share it with others and acknowledge great moments when it happens. By the way, I was one of those guys doing the Meatstick dance on stage. Here’s the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIFwpRxFLA
Well, Summer Camp, it was GREAT. Although the rainstorm cut the night a little young, I had a hell of a time and am already counting down the days til next year.