Here we go! On the way to Summer Camp. I’ve been looking forward to this day for many years now. The past three or four years, I have been streaming Summer Camp through iClips. The excitement still hasn’t settled in that I’m finally gonna get to experience my first music festival. It’s still very surreal. Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect. The only music festival that I have gone to is Milwaukee’s Summerfest (which is considered to be the world’s largest music festival, being over 11 days) but it is not a camping festival. In 2004, when I was 12, I saw Umphrey’s McGee for the first time at Summerfest (which got cut short due to weather) and I instantly fell in love with them!
I’m most excited to see Trey because I’ve seen Phish many times, because he might actually be a jedi, and also because I have never had the opportunity to see Trey as a solo act. I’m also very excited to see Big Gigantic and Medicine for the People! Medicine gives off such a unifying love vibe that is so easy to love. My adoration for both of these bands poses a major conflict and challenge because their set times overlap. Therefore, I plan on starting with Medicine for the People then heading over to Big Gigantic when they start. There are also quite a few other overlapping conflicts that I have yet to work out. So I guess the solution is just to go with the flow and see where the night takes me! Bring it on Summer Camp!
For many, many, many, and yes, many years I have been dying to see one particular band that I had heard so much about. One band that has the reputation of being the ultimate jam band, with a massive following that they have accumulated since their beginnings in 1983. On Friday June 29, 2012 I was finally given the opportunity to experience the musical genius that is Phish.
From the second we arrived at the venue I could already tell that this was going to be a unique show. The crowd was in general, a little older and a little more reserved in a way – but definitely not in a bad way. These were the die hard fans that love the music and the band in a truly exceptional and loyal sense; they were there for no other reason.
Unlike most of the shows I normally attend, there were a total of four hula hoops (mine included) and not many other flashy toys…and the truth was that once the show started, it was easy to see why: the band is so captivating, and the energy between the band and the fans is so powerful, that it’s almost impossible to tear yourself away to look at or play with hoops.
I can’t imagine how much money went into their light show; it was amazing. The overall picture from the lawn at Klipsch Music Center was spectacular. On the big screens it was possible to get detailed views of the expressions on Trey Anastasio’s face as he sang his heart out. We could see Page McConnell’s fingers go crazy on the keyboard, Mike Gordon’s insane picking on the bass, and the Jon Fishman wailing on the drums. The whole band had such awesome chemistry and it was contagious – as there wasn’t a single song that you didn’t find yourself singing along to. “Possum” was by far the best example of everyone dancing and singing together as the song built up every time with the main chorus.
The first set was great, and from some of the fans I learned that it was a unique compilation of their music. That Friday was the first time since 1998 that they played the song “Sweet Jane.” Among my favorite tracks was “Limb by Limb,” where the harmonizing really made the song. I also liked the ominous and almost scary tone that chilled your bones as they played “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.” I was ECSTATIC when they played “First Tube” during their encore – as that is one of my all time favorites. However to be completely honest, my favorite part of the concert was when they finished their first set with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” one of my favorite Beatles songs. It was by far the greatest live performance of that song I have ever seen or heard.
So, overall, I am so glad we trekked to Indianapolis for this most amazing of musical experiences. Phish not only lived up to all my expectations but surpassed them. If you are like me and have always “heard great things” but never had the chance to go, start turning wheels to make it happen. From the first song to their last, this show was a unique adventure – the music, lights and atmosphere was in itself a journey that filled you with emotion and made you wish it would never come to an end. This was my first Phish show, but I guarantee you it will most certainly not be my last.
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!