Continued from Day Two at Summer Camp:
Sunday morning I learned of a special kickball game that took place just as the sun was coming up and the hardcore Saturday night ragers were going down. Umphrey’s McGee bassist Ryan Stasik lead The Umphrey’s Monkey team to a 5-5 drawl against the Totally Fucking Awesome All The Time team. Photos below courtesy of Slayter Creative.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Before starting the final day of music, I had the opportunity to speak with festival organizer Mike Armintrout on Sunday morning. I asked if Summer Camp had anticipated a surge in 2010 attendance due to the cancellation of Rothbury and 10,000 Lakes, both huge attractions for Midwestern festival-goers. He explained that Summer Camp was prepared to cap ticket sales at 15,000, although only 30% of Three Sisters Park is currently being utilized for the annual event. The numbers never reached that cut-off point (attendance levels as of Sunday were speculated to be close to 13,000), but Armintrout noted several factors will have to be reevaluated should the festival decide to expand in the future- camping with vehicles being one of them.
Discussing the amount of preparation required to execute Summer Camp, I learned that bodies had been on-site since March setting up fencing and stages. The last two weeks leading up to the event, Summer Camp staff was in the park daily. The event took approximately two months to complete set-up, would require another two weeks to tear down, and one additional month for the site to completely return to normal. What about all those generators and cords required to power the stages and tents? Nothing short of 4,000 feet of electrical cable was used to keep the festival going each day.
CANDID MOMENTS WITH KINETIX
After speaking with Armintrout, I was able to meet and hang out with the uber-friendly gentlemen of Kinetix (full interview here) who had just rolled into Summer Camp that morning after a seven-hour drive from the Bella Vida Music Festival in Geneva, MN. We talked in depth about the difference between attending music festivals as patrons and attending as musicians performing at the event. “We strongly encourage our manager not to over-book us on weekends,” said guitarist Jordan Linit with a smile on his face. “We like to stay and camp and enjoy the festivals.”
The members of Kinetix and I compared notes on the pros and cons of Summer Camp (which most of us were attending for the first time) and the festival they had just come from in Minnesota. They cited a little venue and significantly smaller attendance level as the culprits for Bella Vida’s down-to-earth vibes and friendly atmosphere. Responding to my discontent over Summer Camp’s alcohol policy, the band assured me that “you can even bring your own booze!” to Bella Vida. Score.
THE MUSIC BEGINS
After chatting with Kinetix, it was time to kick off the first set of the day. It was a heartbreaker to pick between That 1 Guy on the Sunshine Stage and Heatbox on the Camping Stage but I ultimately opted for the beatboxing one-man-band playing inside the woods. As I sat with a sea of fans patiently waiting in the shade of the trees for Heatbox, I enjoyed dubstep coming from the speakers and checked the time, realizing I was early. Kudos here to Summer Camp for keeping sets on track and never once falling behind schedule all weekend. Impeccable timing is a key component in successful set-hopping at a festival; many thanks to the men and women behind the scenes who keep things going according to plan.
Promptly at noon, Heatbox began his set. Read the full review here. An excerpt follows:
Positioned in front of a row of loop pedals as a long as a yardstick, Heatbox made his own beats on the spot. Although physical instruments aren't a part of his show, he’s capable of producing the sound of almost any instrument with his vocal cords. During a swingin’ tune reminiscent of the big band era he imitated an authentic-sounding trumpet solo. For another song, Heatbox cupped his hands over his mouth and around the microphone, impersonating the sound and style of a harmonica player. I kept a close eye until he drew his hands from his face… just to make sure he hadn’t slipped a real harp into the mix.
Later in the afternoon, I went to see my new friends from Kinetix perform. On stage before their Summer Camp crowd, they brought the hardest rock I heard all weekend. Enjoying a set that moved away from spacey, psychedelic jams was a refreshing change of pace as my cohort and I vigorously shook our heads and jumped up and down to the music (which included a wicked cover of Bohemian Rhapsody). Further diversifying the Kinetix sound, guitarist Adam Lufkin stepped to the microphone occasionally to indulge in rock raps. Lufkin’s special touch was milder than hip hop vocals, yet gave the songs an edgy, urban feel.
After Kinetix, we took a much-needed rest stop at the home base, enjoying the funkiness being transmitted across the campgrounds. The New Mastersounds were breaking it down on The Sunshine Stage, but the strength could not be found to venture in that direction. The Avett Brothers were scheduled for a late afternoon performance- a show that had been the talk of the town since the sun came up on day three at Summer Camp. I’m not so sure why, though. I attended the set, but only for a brief while. It reminded me of the time I saw Allison Kraus and Robert Plant on Sunday at Bonnaroo 2008. All are undeniably amazing musicians and vocalists, but who really wants to be serenaded on the final day of a festival when energy reserves are low and sleep deprivation is high? I had to relocate before I found myself in a slumber.
Across festival grounds, Zach Deputy was entertaining a livelier crowd from atop the Campfire Stage. Deputy (a large, burly man) accepted a flower halo with ribbon streams from a girl in the audience and carefully centered it on the cowboy hat already affixed to his head. Deputy and his band played tons of originals as well as fun covers such as “Jump in the Line” and “Under the Sea”. His free spirited, Caribbean persona made me think of a younger, much-cooler Jimmy Buffet.
Here, I ran into Wuhnurth Music Festival organizer James Nimmer and we exchanged stories from the previous night’s activities. Nimmer confirmed the morning’s kickball game with Umphrey’s McGee and also verified the rumored trampoline hidden somewhere deep inside the woods where he had spent the majority of Saturday night relaxing with a band of friends. We discussed the Zach Deputy show unfolding before us. It was my first, to which Nimmer responded “He stops in Indianapolis from time to time. I’m always trying to get people to check out his shows. He’s so good.”
Day three’s musical adventures ended for me at the Sunshine Stage with G Love and Special Sauce. After a long and strenuous weekend of blistering heat, never ending stage relocation, and relentless face-melting; G Love’s show remains a blur in both my mind and my notebook.
Summer Camp brought feelings of anxiety I haven’t felt in years, the kind of butterflies you get in your stomach before a new endeavor into unknown territory. It was fun to test my knowledge and experience in a new setting. If I could offer advice or summarize my learnings from Summer Camp 2010 the list would look like this:
- DO camp in small numbers. Two minimum, six maximum.
- DO have an agenda prepared (even if you don’t adhere to it) because you’ll definitely see and accomplish more in your limited time.
- DON’T try to sneak alcohol into Summer Camp. Also- DON’T plan on getting drunk at Summer Camp.
- DON’T go to Summer Camp without a wagon for carrying your gear.
- DO stay up past 4 a.m. at least one night of the weekend.
- DO attend the smaller sets. Also- DO attend the bigger sets.
In short, diversify your activities to get the most well-rounded experience you possibly can. And always do it safely with your health in mind.
Next up, I'll be reporting on the All Good Music Festival unfolding in Masontown, WV.