It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything out of Kane Jamison, the blogger who spent most of his time between classes working on Burning Oak. He hasn’t had much time for blogging lately, but I convinced him to write up a review or two from the Summer Camp music festival that was about a month ago. Let’s all live vicariously through him as he walks us back through all the highlights and festival fun that him and his crew had…
While many of you were enjoying barbecues and donning your first white shirts of the summer over Memorial Day Weekend, I headed over to Chillicothe, IL for my third year at the eighth annual Summer Camp Music Festival. The forecast was grim, the lineup was a distinct change-up from year’s past, and with a new stage and no festival map published, I had little idea of what to expect from this year’s festival. Despite rain, thunder, lightning, tornado evacuations (yes, again), and I think possibly even hail at one point, I managed to stay relatively dry, snap a few photos, and catch a few sets from some bands that I never expected to see at Summer Camp.
The event kicked off with the Thursday Pre-Party, a Summer Camp tradition involving a smaller lineup before the festival officially starts off on Friday morning.
I caught the last few songs of Great American Taxi as I was lugging in my weekend gear. While they’re a personal favorite of mine, I was slightly more concerned about getting my tent set up before the impending rain of the evening. At 4:00 I caught a set by Chicago’s 56 Hope Road. I’ve seen these guys a number of times at the Canopy Club in Champaign and in Chicago, and for a Thursday afternoon they had an exceptional crowd of people who amazingly all seemed to know the words to the band’s songs.
After wandering the festival grounds and a few brief stops at The Lee Boys and Tea Leaf Green shows, the main event for the night was Zoso, a Led Zeppelin cover band. I’ve neglected to see them in Champaign despite numerous recommendations as well as opportunities, as they come through the Canopy Club a few times a year. Add in a recent Led Zeppelin kick I’ve been on as a result of coming across a couple cheap copies of Led Zeppelin II and IV, and I was feeling ready to ramble on over to check these guys out.
While it seems strange to see a cover band in a festival setting, it was nearly a theme at this year’s Summer Camp, with such acts as Zoso, a Sublime cover band known as Badfish, and arguably Girl Talk, a mashup DJ. However, all three acts more than stepped up to the challenge, and were some of the more popular sets of the weekend. I believe the draw of these guys (as with any cover band) is the ability to sing along for a couple hours to the music we’ve grown up with (or scream as was the case with “Black Dog”), but regardless of why they work, Zoso was a great time. Additionally – and I’d love some validation of this theory by someone else who was there – I think a number of artists saw Zoso play that night, because throughout the weekend I heard Led Zeppelin covers from 2-4 other bands, including the Flaming Lips.
My Thursday ended with a trip to catch Bump on the Camping Stage and U-Melt at the Late Night Shows, but sadly I wasn’t able to stay awake long enough to catch Family Groove Company or Future Rock, both of which deserve to be mentioned since I’m sure they were amazing shows. Need proof? Check out Janis from Family Groove Company bust out Eminem’s “Without Me” on YouTube:
Those of you who were at the festival Thursday night will likely sympathize when I say I was a little grumpy on Friday morning. After a night of thunderstorms and downpours in a tent which I forgot wasn’t sealed, I woke up a little sore and beat up on Friday morning, surrounded by a small pond. While most of my belongings had fully dried by Friday evening and the rain hadn’t reached my camera or phone, suffice to say I was moving a little slow that morning. My afternoon was fairly uneventful as a result, with a short stop at Sound Tribe Sector 9.
The day really started for me with the highly anticipated Girl Talk set at 7:00. For those of you who haven’t heard DJ Gregg Gillis, the one-man act that makes up Girl Talk, I suggest you stop by his MySpace before you read much further. Gillis’ set is a blend of samples from every single song you’ve ever heard, looped, spliced, and fused into one slightly confusing and extremely catchy hour of dancing. And while the set was great, and a highlight of the weekend, I have to say that trying to think of where I had heard all of the sounds he used made for an almost tiring set. If the thought of “The Humpty Dance,” “I Just Wanna Love You,” and Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” sounds interesting to you, do yourself a favor and take a listen. Even Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips enjoyed the set enough to hop on stage and dance around with a giant pair of hands.
If you’ve read any of the other coverage of the festival by now – or any other festival they’ve played this summer such as Sasquatch – you’ve probably gotten the impression that the Flaming Lips stole the show for the weekend. That’s because they did – by anyone’s standards – unless you spent your Friday night at Umphrey’s McGee that is, in which case, I’m sorry.
Coyne and company took a packed crowd for one of the most intense and confetti-packed shows the audience had ever scene, complete with nude chicks, guys in Iron Man costumes, pink ninja chicks, the infamous Wayne-Coyne-Bubble-Crowd-Walk, and possibly a couple members of Devo – either that or construction workers.
The set was fantastic. I can’t do much justice to the visual aspects of the show; Coyne is such a tremendous entertainer that to refer to it as just a concert doesn’t convey the proper imagery needed. I do have one reservation about their set though – I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to hear any new material from them. Their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Song Remains The Same” was great, and the video / light / confetti / balloon show was simply amazing, but when you boil down the set list it was really about eight to ten of their obvious hits. From what I can recall and dig up, the band played “She Don’t Use Jelly,” “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” “Race for the Prize,” “Fight Test,” “Free Radicals,” “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot,” “The W.A.N.D.,” and a final closer of “Do You Realize.” Don’t get me wrong, seeing any great band play their ten biggest hits and one amazing cover always makes for a good show, but there was a lot of filler time in between songs it seemed to me, maybe due to the draining visual show they put on, and I wish I could have had a longer set from them. Not their fault I suppose, but one of my favorite aspects of Summer Camp and any festival is connecting with bands I haven’t listened to enough to know well, and really diving into their material after seeing them. While I’ve definitely pulled out my Lips CDs since I got home, I just wish they would have busted out a few more obscure tracks. All of that moaning aside – amazing show. Easily the highlight of my weekend and most of my friends’ as well. Here’s a little sampling I found that had decent sound:
That’s it for Friday, since I’ve long since surrendered to the fact that I am just not capable of staying up long enough to see late night shows. Check back soon for coverage of George Clinton, The Roots, Family Groove Company, and all of the weather-related updates that seem to define Summer Camp. Also, thanks to my friend John Benigni for having the presence of mind to remember to bring his camera to the Flaming Lips set. Until I get back, I’ve got some links to keep you busy.