Photos By Andre Velez
Summer Camp held a number of unanswered questions as we traveled our way through the cornfields of Central Illinois towards our home for the next 4 days, Chillicothe, Illinois. Having virtually traded in my piles of Phish, Moe., and Umphrey’s albums and compilations after years of high school and college jam sessions for a more electronic-based library a few years ago, I knew Summer Camp would be a trip down memory lane, and hopefully one that I would still enjoy. What I found at Summer Camp were the people, sounds, and adventures that made me fall for music and especially music festivals in the first place. While I still spent a majority of my time hunting down my bass music fix, the jam-based festival as a whole was an excellent one that combined about as many elements of the fantastic culture as it could. Here were just some of the highlights.
Thursday: By the time we had rolled into the lot, grabbed our gear, and setup camp next to some fellow festival goers, the sun had started to loosen its grip on the shoulders and noses of Summer Camp’s attendees. The remainder of the evening was spent exploring the festival grounds, getting a feel for where the stages were and the best way to get back and forth from each one. Fortunately, this involved trekking through the forested area where the true character of some of the most prolific type of festival goers tend to inhabit. Show highlights include DJ SOLO, LoBounce, and Status who closed out the Summer Camp Pre-party at the electronic-themed ‘Vibe Tent’.
Friday: With the first full day of the festival came a party in full-swing.
Boombox started it off right with a late afternoon set. With familiarly groovy tunes infused with an electronic soul, Boombox’s sound was unmistakably primed for the crowd it was playing to.
After about an hour break easily filled in with some Umphrey’s Mcgee at the nearby Sunshine Stage, EOTO threw down with its incredible combination of improvised dubstep rooted in the jam-band background held by both members. As the sun settled, the energy of the crowd increased noticeably and EOTO played into that nicely.
In one of the more difficult lineup confrontations, Primus and Zeds Dead played at the same time and while I was able to catch a little of both, Zeds Dead definitely brought the most energy as anyone familiar with the duo would expect.
Elephant Revival at the smaller Campfire stage was a relaxing and really one of the most impressive performances that I saw over the weekend. After regaining my bearings to their sweet and soothing sounds, the Vibe Tent was where the rest of the partying went down with LoBounce, Team Bayside High, and DJ Thibault.
Saturday: The EDM scene got some much-welcomed facetime on the main stage when Gigantic Underground Conspiracy took the stage to a crowd of a couple thousand. Complete with both members of Big Gigantic, the crew ran through an impressive array of tracks from Big G and well as Midnight Conspiracy that pleased members from a wide spectrum of tastes.
Minnesota, one of the hottest up and comers in the dubstep scene, was up to bat at Vibe Tent and did not disappoint. Solidly playing a number of his bangers that up until then I had only heard on his Soundcloud got the crowd in the Vibe Tent going hard. A powerful producer hitting some major festivals this year, you could see the energy in which he performed demanded acknowledgement that you will be hearing more and more from this young and talented man before the summer is over.
12th Planet clearly made a statement as one of the most well-rounded producers in the game. Using his 4 x 4 pad almost the entire time, he created his beats from the bottom up live on stage which is a talented aspect that is usually not seen live. With a massive smile on his face and energy that could barely be contained by the smaller stage that he played on, 12 Planet struck me as one of the artists that was truly enjoying his time on stage the most.
Back in the Vibe Tent, Gramatik took the stage and put a most incredible show that while is expected from a favorite of Pretty Lights’ label, it’s always a treat to see such producers go above and beyond. Gramatik has the exceptional talent of bringing straight up party music that was idea for the Saturday night party that was in fact going on right in front of them. As an act that I had been waiting patiently to see all weekend, Gramatik was definitely one of the highlights.
This run of 4 sets was the perfect buildup to what I considered the most jaw-dropping performance of the night. Future rock played to a massive crowd in front of a cloudless sunset of a Saturday night audience that can only be seen at a festival. With some of the best lighting and sound experienced all weekend, Future Rock tore up the Starshine Stage with a balanced sound of electronic bass with a jam-inspired rock element finely layered on top of it. Blew myself and everyone around me away. Definitely an act to catch every time I can from now on.
The late night Vibe Tent scene closed out the night with repeat performances by both Minnesota and Chicago’s Midnight Conspiracy. With Chicago’s flag waving in the air and cheers of familiarity rang out until 4am.
Sunday: The final day of Summer Camp was highlighted a handful of shows. Namely, AraabMuzik fostered a rally of sorts in the hot almost desert-like sun of Chillicothe with his hip-hop and breaks style party music.
Break Science kept that same feel going and if there was anybody that was struggling to make it through the last day of the weekend, this show was an adrenaline shot in its purist form.
This was only to be shown up by the one and only Mr. Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights. Playing a rather short hour-long set to the masses before he moved indoors to the VIP-only Red Barn where the party continued with the rest of the Pretty Lights Music artists.