This year’s Summer Camp provided countless memories and stories to be told.  Whether it was taking in a midwest sunset, an early morning swing session, or the shenanigans of sunrise kickball that stood out, everyone saw it differently.  Here’s ten sets that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

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Digital Tape Machine Starts the Party Thursday Night

By the time the sun set on Thursday night most of those who were in for the long haul of four days of Summer Camp were settled in and ready to kick off the weekend dancing.  There were great sets from Twiddle, Sun Stereo, and Future Rock throughout Thursday, but it was Digital Tape Machine in the Red Barn that stole the night.  As if Umphrey’s Mcgee’s presence at SCamp was not already strong enough the Umph side project featuring keyboardist Joel Cummins and percussionist Kris Myers became one of the most talked about sets of the weekend.  It became clear when every person under the roof was yelling along with “Great Dane” and dancing to the buzzsaw beat of “White Light” that it was the beginning of an exciting weekend.

North American Scum, the Next Best Thing for LCD Soundsystem Junkies

Friday’s late night slot left SCampers with one of the toughest conflicts in recent memory.  There was Lotus in the Red Barn and The Motet dishing out the funk at the Campfire Stage, but North American Scum was the obvious choice for any fan of the dearly departed LCD Soundsystem.  The group featured members of Cosby Sweater and Digital Tape Machine joining forces to perform a set of LCD classics.  The surprising part was that it was the group’s debut performance because more often than not the covers were spot-on renditions, largely thanks to David Embry of Cosby Sweater playing the part of James Murphy.  Those gathered in the Soulshine tent screamed along with “Yeah”, reminisced about those not present during “All My Friends”, and laughed at actual drunk girls throughout “Drunk Girls”.  To a crowd clearly jonesing for their fix it was closer than anyone else in the world was to seeing LCD Soundsystem.

Chicago Farmer’s New Feat Rolls With the Punches

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To start off the festivities on Saturday Midwest mainstay Chicago Farmer and Chicago folk rock band Old Shoe teamed up to form Chicago Farmer’s New Feat with Old Shoe on the Campfire Stage.  Neither were strangers to the stage with Old Shoe putting on an excellent set of their own material 24 hours prior and Chicago Farmer playing his eleventh Summer Camp.  Despite their familiarity with the surroundings it was their first time teaming up and the first of those eleven visits that Chicago Farmer would play with a backing band.  Things were going smoothly as the two acts meshing together nicely until technical difficulties cut the power to the stage.  Sensing that they might lose the riled up crowd Chicago Farmer began leading the crowd in an unplugged take on “Me and Bobby McGee” as made famous by the one and only Janis Joplin.  As the rest of the band members and crowd began to join in the mishap turned into one of the most heartfelt moments of the weekend.

Primus Stuns in More Ways Than One

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The whimsical bass stylings of Les Claypool are enough to leave a crowd’s mind numb, but it was his ramblings between songs that truly befuddled the audience.  In between getting the crowd to go wild for “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver” and “Mr. Knowitall” Claypool took to the mic to wax philosophical about actual summer camps and more.  Standing between two giant inflatable astronauts he proceeded to comment,  “I never went to summer camp, like real summer camp.  This seems pretty cool.  Summer camps they talked about when I was a kid there was some weird shit going on like putting hot pieces of toast between your butt cheeks in the morning.”  At that point there was nothing to do but laugh and hope your tent mate didn’t have any sliced bread along.

Umphrey’s and moe. Pull a Switcheroo

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Umphrey’s McGee’s return for their second set Saturday night threw the crowd for a loop when the sound started but the band was nowhere to be found on stage.  The attention was quickly drawn to the platform above the sound booth where the band had gathered to open with “Tailspin”.  The plot thickened with moe. emerging on the stage, playing as well.  Eventually the Umph members climbed down the ladder one by one and tagged out the moe. guys.  The camaraderie between the two bands that top every year’s Summer Camp lineup was on full display with this stunt.  Umphrey’s went on to return the favor on Sunday when they swapped out with moe. for their closing set, complete with a bottle being broken over Umph bassist Stasik’s head.

IndigoSun & The Heard’s Guerilla Set

Two of Chicago’s best up and comers joined forces for a secret set in the forest that turned into one of the most fun scenes of the weekend.  After playing their legitimate sets earlier in the day the funky horns of The Heard and the jazzy electronica of IndigoSun teamed up for a set on Indigo Sun’s “guerilla stage” a pop-up stage in the forest, a tradition the band has been running for a few years now.  Every year the crowds seem to get a little bigger and this collaborative set delivered for those who could find the stage.  The Heard’s horns provided a much appreciated kick to IndigoSun’s to laid back sound.  It was equally entertaining to watch the amazement of those who merely wandered towards the sound to investigate what was going on.  By that point and time most stayed to enjoy the soothing sounds they had stumbled upon.

Jon Wayne & the Pain Rally the Festival Friends

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Catching a set that starts before the crack of noon on the final day of a festival ends up being a tall order for many, but catching Jon Wayne & the Pain was well worth the effort.  The sunny reggae vibe of their tracks was all the encouragement needed to gear up for the final day of SCampin’.  There could be no better time or place for the band’s festival anthem “Festival Friends”.  While singing along to the instantly catchy lyrics of “to all my festival friends, tonight we’re gonna do it all again”, several nodded to each other as if truer words had never been spoken.

Van Ghost and the Silver Surfer

Right in the thick of Sunday’s heat the always entertaining Van Ghost had a sizable crowd enjoying their set on the Campfire Stage.  Lead singer Michael Berg made sure the crowd wasn’t standing still and vocalist/trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick made sure it stayed that way.  Before her time on the Sunshine stage as part of Trey Anastasio Band, Hartswick soaked up the spotlight with both her powerful vocal and trumpet skills. Despite the action on stage it was one rogue crowd member that drew everyone’s attention near the end of the set. Crowd surfing is not exactly commonplace as Summer Camp and it’s not usually popular amongst those with gray hair.  In defiance of these conventions an older gentleman was passed from the back of the crowd, seemingly out of nowhere.  This silver surfer quickly reminded everyone that you are only as old as you feel, especially at Summer Camp.

Zac Brown Band Assists SCampers’ Anger Management

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How many of you out there are trying to get lost?” Zac Brown asked the Summer Camp crowd midway through his first set.  It soon became apparent that Mr. Bown was very simpatico with the Summer Camp crowd.  The country star converted more than a few onlookers to full fledged fans by the end of his time on stage.  It seemed to be a gathering nobody wanted to miss, with members of Umphrey’s and moe. joining at points.  Brown unleashed a flurry of covers including Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These”, Steven Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”, and Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”.  Even after this incredible setlist the band saved the best for last.  Enthusiasm reached maximum capacity with the very first riff of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name of”.  Anger is hard to come by amidst the free flowing vibe of Summer Camp, but all present seemed to find some rage that needed to be let out.  When it comes down to it there is nothing more cathartic and freedom affirming than screaming “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” in a crowd of thousands.

Gramatik Gives SCamp One Last Burst of Life

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By the tail end of Sunday many who had been trudging through the dust for four days were running on fumes.  Anyone who had gas left in the tank mustered up what they could for the Sunshine stage’s closing set from electro funk master Gramatik.  Fortunately, Gramatik rewarded the perseverance with an absolutely invigorating set.  Hot off his much buzzed about Red Rocks performance Gramatik continued to deliver with a cavalcade of guests. In addition to his usual guitarist Gramatik treated the crowd to appearances from Russ Liquid members (rocking both sax and flute) as well as the soulful vocals of Gibbz.  By the end of the show most were getting down as if they were ready for another four days.


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