All images by Sasha Savinov.
Howdy, SCampers! I hope you all stayed warm this winter, especially by grooving along to some of your favorite Summer Camp bands. That’s what I’ve was doing this winter and I figured a little recap is in order. Here’s a look at what went down during what I’m calling my “jam-tastic winter.”
Ringing in the New Year in Style
My 2022 kicked off in Asheville at the Arena 54 space disco extravaganza. Featuring a trifecta of Summer Camp acts – Funk You, Keller Williams, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, it was an intergalactic dance party and just what we needed at the end of a crazy year.
Thanks to vintage stores here in Asheville and Amazon Prime, we were able to throw some pretty rad outfits together at the last minute. It was a super fun show and the perfect way to kick off 2022. Read my full review in case you missed it.
Those Pigeons are flocking back to SCamp this year, including a late-night in the Red Barn that’s sure to be a heater. Keller is making yet another appearance at Three Sisters Park this year, bringing his pals Grateful Grass along for the ride this time. Grab your tickets now and don’t miss the fun!
A Little Something in Asheville
We decided to stick around the Land of the Sky for the most part this winter. It proved to be a solid decision, as we get lots of crunchy grooves here in Asheville. Our first shows of the year came in the form of a double-header with Little Stranger and Big Something. Or what we liked to call “A Little Something.”
This was my first time seeing Big Something and I was really impressed. These guys aren’t really a jam band, per say, but they sure are a band that jams! Unfortunately, we missed Little Stranger’s opening sets, but they did sit in with the band on the last night and it was awesome. Check out my recap for more details.
Both Little Stranger and Big Something will be playing at Summer Camp this year, so get excited and be sure to catch their sets.
Eggs in a Dopa-Pile
It’s fun combining bands’ names in nonsensical ways. I discovered a few new bands this winter that I’d like to tell you all about. First up was a Friday night show at a venue called the Grey Eagle here in Asheville. Local heroes Buddagraph Spaceship kicked things off and warmed up the crowd, many of whom were enjoying tacos and draft beers.
Dogs in a Pile hit the stage next and got right down to business. This quintet from Asbury Park, NJ is a hot topic of conversation these days. They’ve been hitting the road hard opening for other established acts such as Pigeons and Twiddle. You’ve also probably noticed their name on lots of festival lineups, including Summer Camp.
I was definitely impressed by their first set here in Asheville. For a cold winter night amidst the omicron panic, they turned out a decent crowd (who all had to show vax cards, by the way) and people were getting down. This old-timer couldn’t even stay up for the whole show, as they were still jamming when I had to sneak out around 1:30.
Their passionate fans are known as the Dog Pound and I’m sure they’ll come out in full force for the band’s first-ever SCamp appearance this May. In the meantime, check them out on Nugs as they recently got added and have several shows to choose from.
I had been hearing about Eggy for a while and was excited to see them open for Dopapod in Ann Arbor. Due to a serious winter storm rolling in and vehicle problems, they had to cancel their trip. That’s some Pure Michigan weather right there, folks!
Thankfully, Dopapod still went on and delivered a high-energy two-set show to a pretty packed house for a Tuesday night at the Blind Pig. It had been almost 20 years since I’d been at this classic little venue. Back then, I saw bands like Umphrey’s and the New Deal here. The venue looks exactly the same, and so does the crowd for the most part. Only there are more Goose shirts than Dead shirts these days…
Anyway, enough of the “back in my day” stuff. The future is here already with bands like Dopapod and Eggy. I’d have to wait to see the latter, but I had a damn good time for my first full Dopapod show. I especially enjoyed the Imaginary Friend > Faba > Imaginary Friend > Faba sandwich, as well as the Ween cover of “Happy Colored Marbles” for the encore. Click here to give this show a spin if you have Nugs.
A month later, I was stoked to find out that Eggy was rolling through Charlotte on their winter tour. We had already planned a trip there to visit family, so we dropped into Heist Brewery on a Friday night for an egg-celent show. The jams were anything but overeasy and they left our brains scrambled, especially with a near 50-minute pairing of “Buying Time” and “Midnight Moonlight.” Here’s the link to the show if you want to check it out.
We stuck around for a bit after the show to meet the band and management. It’s their first time at SCamp this year, too, so we’re trying to coordinate an interview or something fun on site. Just another one of the many perks of that Camp Counselor life. These guys are super nice and I’m pumped they’re joining the fam this year! Maybe I’ll stop with the egg puns. Probably not, but maybe…
Going Home With Umph
My winter of wookery included two different runs with local South Bend bar band Umphrey’s McGee. Despite being from Detroit, I hadn’t seen UM there since 2008 (I’m not counting the pod show in Pontiac last summer, for the record). As T-Baby sings in her hit song – “It’s so cold in the D.” I usually do my best to avoid my hometown like the plague in the winter months.
Unfortunately, I had to head home for my grandpa’s funeral. He lived a pretty amazing 87 years on this world and had nine kids and an astounding 36 grandkids, of which I’m the oldest. He always mentioned “Humphrey McGee” when we talked about the music we like. He was more of a Frank Sinatra guy, but he showed some #umphlove anyways.
I had no choice but to crank it up to 11 and send it to the Fillmore Detroit for a late-January throwdown with Team Umph. Music always helps me get through difficult times, and this show did just that. I went with my best friend and my cousin and bumped into several old friends. I really felt the love, as I always do at an Umph show in the Midwest.
Speaking of the show, it was a barnburner that helped to warm up another freezing Motor City night. Highlights included a massive “Big Friday” and a 2nd set-closing run through “Triple Wide” and “Divisions.” This rock show was for you, Grandpa.
While it’s not exactly “home” (we squat here more than we live here), Asheville really feels like it. My wife and I got married here in 2015 and we’ve been spending a lot of time here since then. It was our quarantine home for much of 2020 and we have spent much of the winter here as well.
When Umphrey’s announced another 2-night run here at the end of February on her birthday weekend, you know we had to be there. Opening things up was lespecial. Don’t sleep on these guys. They’re a power trio that’s reminiscent of Primus and they’re kicking ass and taking names.
We missed their set on night one but made it in early the 2nd night to catch them. I’m so glad we did, as they played an epic “Enter Sandstorm” mash-up with none other than Jake from Umphrey’s sitting in.
As far as the Umph is concerned, they brought the absolute ruckus to Asheville. Both nights were fantastic shows, and this coming from a jaded vet who’s approaching 150. Friday night was a balls-to-the-walls rock show, featuring runs through “2 x 2,” “40s Theme,” and “Ja Junk.”
They capped off with a cover of Metallica’s “And Justice For All.” I was so busy headbanging like Beavis & Butthead that I totally forgot my camera bag was stashed under a chair. It never turned up at lost & found or with friends. That damn camera got me through five Summer Camps and couldn’t survive one Umphrey’s Asheville weekend. I can only hope that whoever ground-scored it actually uses it…
Saturday was a big day with a birthday brunch, friends coming to stay, and pre-game festivities. We were nice and loose by the time UM hit the stage with a prime spot right behind the soundboard. They opened with “August” in February – a song named after my birthday month in my wife’s birthday month. Nice.
We decided to dust off our sparkly threads from Pigeons NYE and bust them out again for this occasion. It definitely turned out to be a dance party with a massive “Hurt Bird Bath” and “Triple Wide.” My wife is a Bisco kid and loves that tune, so thanks for the birthday present dudes.
I’m not sure how it took me this long to finally see an UM run in Asheville, but it certainly won’t be my last! Click here to listen on Nugs.
While we usually run away from the cold and have spent the past several winters south of the border, it was so nice to be home this year, wherever that even is. I’ve been a nomad for the past six years and don’t really “live” anywhere. It’s amazing that I can just go catch a Summer Camp band anywhere and instantly feel right at home.
I’m flying off to Europe for a 6-week trip and my heart is very full after all these incredible shows this winter. I can’t wait to get back home with all of you at Three Sisters Park this May for my 10th SCamp. Until then, take care of each other, see as much live music as you can, and stay hydrated. See ya’ll at SCamp.