Preparing for another ritualistic venture to Three Sisters Park; I can’t keep myself from reminiscing about last year. The whole experience was crazy, everything about it – from deciding to enter and making the video to announcing moe.’s first set. Entering the Camp Counselor 2012 Contest wasn’t even my idea to begin with – my friend randomly suggested it and I thought to myself “why not?” In all honesty I NEVER expected to win when I sent in my original video. It didn’t help that I emailed it merely two hours before the deadline would turn any chances of it happening to zero.
Summer Camp had always been special to me for many reasons – Summer Camp was not only the first festival I ever went to, but it was also the one weekend of the year which I could spend with my old best friends from college. When I, rather incredulously, realized I made the first round of candidates the significance and meaning of the prize began to actualize. I realized that winning wasn’t just going to be sweet because of the prizes, but because I was going to have the opportunity to experience unique moments that are literally, and as David Byrne’s would say, “once in a lifetime.”
The competition was pretty fierce. I was up against some great people; they all were smart, interesting and suited for the role. Luckily I had some good friends on my team and we fought harder and harder on each round. By the time it came down to the final three I even had my family in South America voting and telling their friends to vote as well. When the announcement was made and I read on the Facebook post that I won, I had to re-read it several times. It was exciting – I was going to get to meet and announce moe., interview some great people, and sit side stage for some great shows; the anticipation began to grow.
Within a few weeks I was finally on the trip to Peoria to be the 2012 Summer Camp Counselor. As soon as we put that rockstar parking pass on the rearview mirror and parked right next to the VIP entrance, I knew that weekend was going to be epic. Out of the many years of attendance, last year was the first time I had someone drive up to the car in a golf cart and take us (and our bags) up to our campsite. For the first time out of the many years of attendance I walked up to the backstage entrance behind the moonshine stage and demonstrated my “I can go back here pass.” I was nervous and terrified because I was going to announce moe.’s first set in about half an hour. Then I see Rob sitting in a golf cart, chillin behind his black sunglasses and he can see I’m nervous and I tell him why. “Oh you’ll be fine, it’s easy.” I smiled and said “Yeah, coming from someone who has just a bit more experience…”
The entire weekend was a blur of hectic sweetness. I couldn’t believe that suddenly it was Sunday. In those four days I had gotten to watch moe., Gigantic Underground Conspiracy and Umphrey’s sidestage. I got to partake in Wavy Dave’s birthday festivities and watch his cake melt in the 100 degree weather. I sat and spoke to Vinnie who gave me some drums instruction. I had the opportunity to interview the members of Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, G. Love, Wavy Dave and Kinetix. Umphrey’s signed their names to a poster which now hangs on my wall. The best moments however, were those unscheduled interactions with the people that make the festival what it is –getting insights and wisdom from Vinnie and Rob, singing Happy Birthday to Wavy Dave, talking to Ian, Rex, Holly, Danny, Graham, Nick, the Counselors in Training and the regular festival attendees who posed for pictures and gave me their personal take on the event.
Being Camp Counselor also experienced the festival in completely new way; in my effort to capture the energy of the festival, I met more people, took more pictures, and saw more varied bands than any other year. Looking back on it all I wish I had done even more. There is no real way you can prepare for the experience however, and it all happens so fast there isn’t much time to stop and plan. I wish I could relive the entire experience with the experience of it under my belt, but I can’t. All I can do is sit and reminisce about the wonderful 2012 Summer Camp weekend and smile knowing that it all actually happened.
It could happen to you too…YOU could be one of the few people on this Earth who get to live Summer Camp in this exceptional way…but you will never know unless you try.
Congrats to Kyle Hess, Camp Counselor 2013!!
For the rest of you: Start thinking of your 2014 Camp Counselor Video!!
See you soon!!
Summer Camp is so close I can practically smell it. The lovely mixture of fresh air, food on the grill, and the ripe natural musk of thousands of hippies. Athough it has almost been a year since Summer Camp 2012 I have been busy seeing lots of Summer Camp artist all over Chicago. In my last blog I wrote about the festivals I went to in 2012, well this is the rest of the story, the non-festival shows I attended in 2012.
- Phish – 2 Nights at Alpine Valley
- Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper
- Easy Star Allstars
- Keller Williams
- Old Crow Medicine Show
- 7 Walkers
- David Byrne and St. Vincent
- Family Groove Company
- All Eyes West
- Still Alive
- Old Shoe
- Full Court Press at the Abbey pub (featuring many Summer Camp artists)
- Psycles – with guest Kris Myers
- Helping Phriendly Orchestra
- Yip – Yip
- The Hue
- Umphrey’s McGee Halloween in Milwaukee
- Punch Brothers
- Jaik Willis
- Hen House Prowlers
- Chicago Jazz Orchestra (playing the music of Frank Zappa)
- Terry Bozzio Drum Clinic
- The Motet
- UmBowl IV
- The Grey Boy Allstars
In 2012 had the opportunity to see a lot of musicians that I have been waiting years to see from the legendary David Byrne, frontman of the Talking Heads, to European Drum and Bass virtuoso Squarepusher. It was definitely a year of branching out as well seeing Iron Maiden perform live for the first time. I had the pleasure of being completely blown away by the talents of the Punch Brothers when I went to their show on a whim. Also got a photo pass for the first time to shoot pictures of Old Crow Medicine Show. I was most recently able to attend the epic UMBowl IV. Needless to say it was an epic year for me. I will detail some of my favorite shows below. Remember to check out my Videos and Pictures from all the shows I went to.
David Byrne and St. Vincent
I am a huge fan of David Byrne, I love practically everything he does, his music, photography, art installations, his writing too. In my opinion he is a true genius. To be able to see David Byrne and St. Vincent play their new album “Love This Giant” was a real treat. They played the album in it’s entirety as well as a few T-Heads and David Byrne solo songs. The stage show consisted of an empty stage, David Byrne, St Vincent, and their band, a mixture of brass instruments, prancing around stage in an awkwardly beautiful manner.
I was introduced to Squarepusher a few years ago by a friend and have been dying to see him play since. Born as Tom Jenkinson, Squarepusher is from the U.K. and doesn’t make it to the U.S. much so when I heard he was touring in Chicago I bought tickets as soon as I could. He is an extremely talented electronic musician specializing in Drum and Bass, but his real specialty is when he plays solo electric bass. His music is heavily influenced by jazz and would be appreciated by the biggest haters of electronic music.
Iron Maiden / Alice Cooper
All I can really say is wow! Iron Maiden will take you on one hell of a ride. The stage was a set that looked a stone alter dedicated to the the devil. The back drops kept changing through the show depicted their famous mascot “Eddie” in various demonic states. And the great Bruce Dickinson ran, climbed, and jumped all over the stage in true rock-n-roll fashion. It was great to see these legends play at the top of their game. Alice Cooper opened up the show. I saw him earlier in the year at Bonnaroo and was just as pleased to see him again. His show consist of costume changes, a giant spider, a Frankenstein monster, and even a mock guillotine execution. Alice Cooper is shock rock at its finest and is still rocking hard when most artist have put touring on hold.
I was introduced to the Punch Brothers a few weeks before I went to their show with my friend who had an extra ticket. These talented guys remind me of a younger, hipper version of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. They are all masters of their instruments and can pull of jazzy bluegrass versions of Radiohead’s “Ok Computer,” They played most of the tracks from their two albums including “Movement and Location,” “You Are,” and “Patchwork Girlfriend.” I was particularly blown away when the mandolin player, Chris Thile, came out after the encore and played a piece of classical music without any amplification. After seeing the Punch Brothers live I have not been able to take them off my iPod.
Old Crow Medicine Show
My Mom introduced me to Old Crow and they quickly became a favorite of mine. I have even learned their song “Wagon Wheel” on Ukulele! I was lucky enough to get a photo badge when I went to this show so I was able to get some really good pictures, you can check them out here These boys really know how to throw down. They played their hits like “Wagon Wheel,” “Levi,” and “Methamphetamine.” Everyone in the theater was really feeling it and having a good time especially when they played the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land is Your Land.”
This years UMBowl was as epic as ever. It was my second UMBowl, I also attended the UMBowl II. For those who don’t know this is Umphrey’s most fan inclusive show of the year. It is a place for the most hardcore Umph fans to do what they always dream of and call the shots at the show. During the first quarter the band took a second look at previous “jimmy stewart” improvisations that gained the most votes from fans. The second quarter setlist was created by attendees voting from a list of songs and/or band configurations. Highlights included Metallica’s “Orion,” “Cantina Band” from Star Wars and my personal favorite a medley containing most of the final songs on the Beatles “Abbey Road” album. Something that I can only compare to seeing most of Umphrey’s members play it last year as the Brain Damaged Eggman, at a Summer Camp Late Night Red Barn set. The third quarter was a S2 art event, where attendees texted in themes for the band to improvise off of. The best part of this quarter was when one of my buddies themes “Tribal Drum Jam” was put up for the band to jam on. The fourth and final quarter is a “Choose your own adventure” where 3 or 4 song choices are put up on a screen for attendees to choose from so the setlist is made in realtime. The UMBowl is always a good time and never ceases to remind me why I keep coming back to Umphrey’s McGee shows.
Well that is pretty much everything I have seen since Summer Camp 2012. It has been a great year but I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces at camp this year!
Saturdays are always some of the biggest days at Summer Camp. Almost everyone has had time to get to the festival and is out ready to rage in full force. Saturday was HOT! The mercury hit around 95 degrees but the bands were even hotter. I took the heat with chicken hat on and got to see quite a few bands. Here is a little bit of a preview of my day.
Family Groove Company
Kids These Days
Brain Damaged Eggman
Sun Stereo recreating the Beatles
Like yesterday, I will give you a brief synopsis of what where some of my high points of the day.
The first band that blew me completely away was a band I first heard within the last six months. The band is called Kids These Days and they are out of Chicago. The band is made out of young rockers that are barely out of high school, but don’t let that fool you. They have more talent and soul than people twice their age. Kids these Days has a very original sound I would call a sweet blend of funk, blues, jazz, soul, and hip hop. All 7 members of the band owned the stage the moment they set foot out there bringing an energy level that could boil blood. One of the things that first drew me to the band was the absolutely stunning voice of Macie Stewart who also plays keys, but I also have love for the horn section made up of Nico Segal on trumpet and J.P. Floyd on trombone. The horns provide that jazzy icing on the cake that brings all the parts in sync. They also function as “hype men” pumping up the crown and having a good time on stage. I love rock and roll but my roots are in the blues which is why I love to see Liam Cunningham up there ripping on blues guitar. I hope to see much more of these guys in the future.
The next show will be on the top of many Scampers best of list for 2012. The Brain Damaged Eggmen were formed from Jake, Kris, and Brendan from Umphrey’s, and Marc and Aron from Disco Biscuits. The two groups seamlessly blended their styles to form what 2011 Camp Counselor Nick Stock called Disco McGee. The sound was a dancy blend of Disco Biscuits groove and gut-punching Umphrey’s rock. They played many of my favorite songs including Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.” I was lucky enough to witness Umphrey’s cover this song in Dekalb in 2007 and was excited to see it busted out again.
After the late night in the Red Barn I was wanting to keep the Beatles vibe rolling and also wanted to kick back and relax so I headed towards the Soulshine tent to see Sun Stereo recreating the Beatles. I have never seen these guys before and was glad to see that they are a home grown act hailing from Urbana, IL. They came out in full force complete with British accents that could fool a true Brit.
I also got to take some time between sets to check out the Field Day events and even participate in dodgeball. I regret to inform you that I am not very good at Dodgeball and got out almost immediately, but I had a lot of fun. If you have a competitive spirit the field day events are a great way to meet new people that you will be able to rage with at future festivals. It is also a great way to partake in the childlike fun of Summer Camp.
One more day left Scampers. It is going to be a great one, hold on to it while you can because you are going to miss it Monday. As always Rage Responsibly!
Summer 2012 Festival season in review
So what has ChickenHeadFan been up to since last Summer Camp Music Festival? Well, I was doing my normal thing, going to shows, taking pictures and videos to share with all of you. As we all know Summer Camp Music Festival is ChickenHeadFan’s true home! There is nothing he loves more than the 4 days he spends over Memorial Day weekend with all of you at Camp. This summer I did some branching out and I was lucky enough to go to four other music festivals and each one had many unique things that make them special. I like to keep the Summer Camp Spirit flowing all summer long and I figured trying out some new festivals was a great way to keep that spirit going! In this blog I will give you some highlights of each festival.
Bonnaroo was a great time. It was my first time going so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The experience was a lot different than Summer Camp, but that can be expected as there are as many as 80,000+ people at Bonnaroo. We were lucky and accidentally found a back way in so we were in line for 2 hours instead of 6-8 so that was a positive right off the bat. We got in line around 2am and were not done setting up till 4am so that was an adventure. We had really great neighbors and even made good friends with one group and they are planning to visit in Chicago soon! It was a long walk over 1 mile to get to “Center-Roo,” where all the shows are, so you didn’t want to go back to camp very often. The food selection was amazing with vendors everywhere that were open all day and night. You could eat anything you wanted at anytime and you never had to walk far or wait long for food. We even bought some good ol’ Tennessee moonshine from one vendor! The bathrooms were also pretty awesome. I never once saw a port-a-john that was anywhere close to overflowing and they were always clean.
Musical Highlights: Radiohead, Phish, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Alice Cooper, Umphrey’s McGee. The first band we saw was Mariachi el Bronx. I had been looking forward to seeing them after learning about them a few months before. These punk rockers turned mariachi band (mariachi outfits included) put on a high energy show that was lot of fun. Radiohead and Phish were obvious highlights for me. It was my first time seeing Radiohead and what an epic show it was. They played all my favorite songs and their stage show with the video screens moving all over the stage was a cool touch. Rodrigo y Gabriella’s new record, Area 52, that they recorded with the band C.U.B.A. has been one of my favorite albums this summer. It was amazing to see them play such complex music so perfectly live. Alice Cooper was also awesome, but we were only able to catch the last half of his show. His stage show includes costumes, giant puppets, and a guillotine. I was excited to see more later in the summer when I was going to see him open for Iron Maiden. We caught a surprisingly fun set from Ludacris during the afternoon. The set struck memories of driving to school with my older brother when he played a montage of hits including my favorites “Ho” and “Southern Hospitality.” Umphrey’s also played the best set I have seen from them in 2012. They played from 2-6am with Big Gigantic taking over at set break for a half hour. They were only supposed to play till 4am but put on a full show instead. The set including a rocking version of “Thunderstruck” which was exactly what I needed to keep me going as the sun was rising.
Whippersnap Music Festival is one of the many smaller local festivals that happens in the northern Illinois region. Here you can check out a lot of the great bands you might hear at the Starshine, Camping, or Campfire Stages at Summer Camp. The festival was located in Lyran Park near Rockford, IL. The main stage was set on a hill so there was a “natural amphitheater” with a river as the backdrop. It was beautiful! As for food, my favorite Summer Camp vendor Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was on-site so I was happy. The bathrooms at the festival were clean as well which makes festival life so much easier. Camping was very relaxed. There was plenty of space and there was no rush to find a place to set up camp. It is always a problem at larger festivals and can make the first couple hours a mad dash to get your preferred spot.
Musical Highlights: Family Groove Company, SPREAD, Old Shoe, The Funky Meters, and Digital Tape Machine. I also was only able to attend the Festival for Saturday and Sunday so I missed some great music, but was still able to catch some of my favorites. Family Groove played an awesome set that included a Beck cover and featured Joe Day from Old Shoe on vocals. I also woke up early Saturday to see SPREAD, a Summer Camp Battle-of-the-Bands contest winner the last 3 years, play a rocking set that included a Ween Cover, and some of their staples like “Deep Plunge” and “Feel my Heat.” I also got to catch a late afternoon set from Old Shoe. This was sadly the first time I have been able to catch a full set from these guys, and I was truly blown away! I have seen them twice since then, once at the Abbey Pub and once at Shoe Fest and they never cease to please.
Shoe Fest is put on by Old Shoe, hence the name. This festival was held in Manteno, IL at Camp Shaw-wa-na-see. This is another beautiful setting for a small festival. There were many families and children present and you can bring your furry family members too, pets are just as welcome here as anyone! You could pretty much camp anywhere so there was plenty of space for everyone. They actually had real bathrooms which was nice, but sometimes were out or order with a lot of people using them. Foodwise there were options but since my favorite, Minglewood Brick Oven Pizza was at the fest, I had to get my fix of delicious pizza and baked ravioli. They did have two local craft brewers on site which was awesome, but one other bonus was that you could bring your own alcohol anywhere at the festival including the stages, which helped keep the cost of going to a festival down.
Musical Highlights: Keller and the Keels, Ben Miller Band, Old Shoe, Jaik Willis. I missed Friday night because of my day job so, the Ben Miller Band was the first band to rock my world at Shoe Fest. They come from Joplin, MO and have a unique sound that blends bluegrass, blues, and mountain music with an occasional trombone thrown into the mix. Ben Miller provides acoustic guitar and vocals for the band, sometimes singing into a telephone converted into a microphone that gives his voice a distorted 50′s sound. Doug Dicharry plays drums, mandolin, electric washboard, trombone, and electric spoons. His strange mix of talents add to the spice that makes this band so unique. Scott Leeper plays a self-made washtub Bass for the band. This is no easy instrument requiring the player to provide the correct tension on the neck to play the right note, but Scott is an expert at it. The band played mix of covers that included “I wanna be Sedated” and “Helter Skeltar” and some originals like “Meth Mama” and “Get Right Church.” Keller and the Keels put on an amazing show. The talents of Larry and Jenny Keel compliment and add to the talents of one-man-band Keller Williams. They played a few Keller originals like “Goofballs” and “Crater in the Backyard” along with many of their bluegrass covers such as Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” Jaik Willis is the last person I caught at the festival before I left Sunday afternoon. This is sadly one of the first times I have been able to catch Jaik play, and it won’t be my last. This man is über talented. He not only is one of the best guitar players in Chicago, or anywhere for that matter, he has a voice of gold, and he beat boxes! He holds a special connection with the crowd and has the rare qualities that make up a great solo performer. Shoe Fest was a great time and it felt like home. I cannot wait to go back next year!
North Coast Music Festival is practically in my backyard. We probably walked less to get from my house to North Coast than when we walked from our camp to the shows at Bonnaroo. I had a great time at North Coast, but since it is not a camping festival it has a completely different vibe, and the lineup, consisting of mostly DJ’s and electronic groups, draws a younger and slightly different crowd than most festivals I go to. North Coast usually gets a couple big headliners and fills in the line-up with smaller acts. Although it can be a really great place to find a great smaller band, there are a lot of performers there that I’m just not interested in. The late night shows usually make up for the sometimes lackluster line-up.
Musical Higlights: EOTO, STS9, Umphrey’s Mcgee, Papadosio. The first show I saw was EOTO. I always enjoy seeing them because I can hardly believe two guys can make all those weird noises, and with real instruments too. I was able to catch Papadosio for my second time at one of the smaller stages. They put on a good show as always. STS9 is always a highlight anytime I see them, and between their headlining spot at the festival and their after party show at the House of Blues they played every song I wanted to hear including some of my favorites “Unquestionable Supremecy of Nature” “Evasive Maneuvers”, and “Inspire Stikes Back.” Unfortunately, due to restrictions put on the festival, STS9 got their sound cut when their last song went few seconds past the 10pm cutoff. The second day at the festival the weather was unpredictable and I had to miss out on Family Groove Company’s main stage performance because the festival had a no re-entry policy. I saw Strange Arrangement at one of the smaller stages at the festival where I saw some of the best shows. I was able to catch Atmostphere and Future Rock before the nights headliner and one of my favorites, Umphrey’s McGee. This was their second year headlining the festival after playing the inaugural North Coast Fest 2 years ago. I went to the STS9 after party at the House of Blues because STS9 only comes to Chicago so often so you have to see them when you can. Sunday I got a late start but I as able to see Digital Tape Machine and Big Boi from Outkast perform. Big Boi was a fun experience, and someone who I typically might not see, he played “Sorry Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” , so it was a pretty good time. The real highlight of the night was seeing Umphrey’s play at the Congress Theater, which is the only major theater I have not seen them perform at in Chicago. The show was rocking, and included a cover of Toto’s “Rosanna” and teases of “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Bulls on Parade.” North Coast Music Festival always ends up being a great time, but the after party shows always seem to be the best part for me.
So that is pretty much the story of my festival season this year. I had a great time but you know I was busy catching shows in between each music festival as well! What kind of shows you ask? Well to find out you will have to wait for my next blog post that will be Coming Soon!
Photo Credit – Andrew Feigl for both Bonnaroo photos
Photo credit – Adam Alexander for Chickenheadfan North Coast photo
You may have been keeping tabs on the fiery 2012 political debates with Romney and Obama squaring off in a battle of health care reform, tax breaks for the rich and pure suit and tie debauchery on all fronts. However, on the sidelines an important battle in jamband land has slowly gained attention as percussionist Andy Farag and keyboardist Joel Cummins throw dirty funked-up blows across the stage. That’s right– the boys of Umphrey’s McGee have had enough and they’re not concerned with Obamacare of Romney’s 47% because they have hardcore stimulus packages of their own. Oooh dirty.
So, who really is the people’s President? The slickest melody maker that will take away suffering for all of UM nation? Farag stands firm by solid middle class values and is firnly rooted in his solidarity with all Um-freaks to create a more loving community in jam nation. Listen to his platform strong points HERE! Unfortunately, we hear nothing of free BBQ topped with Andy’s famous southern rub for all nor do I hear anything about UM dance parties filled with techno-colored care bears and moustache rides. Dismissing those strong points from his argument truly make me question his so called desire to unify the divisions singer Brendan Bayliss so fondly sings of.
Meanwhile, the weathered and wrinkled keys master Mr. Cummins , stands firmly by his belief and love in America. In fact, he repeats the point one too many times in his weak opening argument. He speaks of economic freedom and the ability to make our children’s dreams come true using tried and true good ol’ American ideals. He attacks Farag for his eratic drug use and inability to run UM nation while he’s all doped out in his apartment, teary eyed and eating cookie dough while banging around on a new drum set bought with the people’s money. Mister Cummins intent focus on some Candy Land version of childhood however just may prove how out of touch an old mind can be.
Ultimately, it it is up to you– the fans. Who will you trust to run UM nation?