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!
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!
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.