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Monday, June 6

Same As It Ever Was: SummerCamp 2016 was the Best time of my Life Again.

Same As It Ever Was: SummerCamp 2016 was the Best time of my Life Again.
Words:Michael Wallentin 
Photos: Aaron Bradley 
Editor: Greg Heffelinger  
    We all know where it began, this great obsession, and endless love for a lifestyle that many people believe is pointless. I know where my obsession for jam music, the scene, the shows, the bands, the friends, and the family all started for myself. It was back in 2010, when at the time it was Summer Camp’s tenth anniversary, and I was at the ripe age of sixteen. From those days on, gracing the beauty of Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Illinois was something I have looked forward to each and every year. This past year was no different. Summer Camp 2016 was upon me, and once again I was hauling my ass with a great friend to the festival, as we had done many times before. 


    Let’s begin with the hollowed drive in, the itching, the scratching, and the countless cigarettes smoked as each second brought us closer and closer once again. Wherever we drove from it was a drive to always remember, and for those that had issues, I apologize. For the most of us it was full of music, and talk of what was in store for us. Laughter. Joy. Anticipation. As I traveled from Marquette, Michigan the eight and a half hours ahead of my friends and I seemed as if it would last forever. Until we passed the “Town of Chillicothe - Population 6000” sign, and the hearts started beating, we finally had made it. 

    The Three Sister’s sign, the lines of cars, the friends dancing, jumping, and parading between cars to greet those they haven’t seen. Perhaps since the last years festival even. It’s the absolute feeling I have been anticipating all year long, and it was just a few short hours till we were able to break the gates, and find our home for the next four days. Thanks to Grateful Music, and friends from Summer Camp this year was going to be one for the books. I had finally made it as a writer, and I would wear that loosely. However, I was too proud, excited, and grateful to have this opportunity to make a new stride in my young life. 

    There’s something about Summer Camp, different, and focused specifically about this festival alone. I have been to many lots, camped at many sites, and have gone to many fests that just don’t beat the intimacy of Summer Camp. It’s just like home. Of course there come the hang ups, and broken, or lost items, misplaced friends, and the occasional bad seed in the crowd. Although, there just isn’t a place in the World that bounces back quite like the way Summer Camp does. 
    There’s a family atmosphere that somehow is created in the least suspecting places. And shout outs to all the artist workshops, yoga, and even instructionals on how to build yourself a house from nature, Summer Camp becomes one-of-a-kind. There are gardens to glance upon, and even carnival rides that makes for an amazing show experience in the back of the Sunshine main stage. If you’ve never seen Umphrey’s from a ferris wheel, well, you’ve never seen Umphrey’s from a ferris wheel. 

And that brings us to Thursday. 

    I mean what else could we do after running around, throwing our things down at our camps, and gathering the troops for the first shows of the festival. During Thursday there were some amazing performances by the likes of Chicago Funk Mafia, Family Groove Company, Henhouse Prowlers, Manic Focus, Lettuce, The Werks, Future Rock and Greensky Bluegrass. There was nothing but net on Thursday, and nothing short of majestic beauty by the men, and women who had played on one of the seven stages. For a young and curious wanderer like me, Thursday was a playground I couldn’t have missed outside the initial festival. 
    Those of you who have pre-partied know and can only realize of course like Bayliss is tuned to say each year, “It’s a marathon and not a race”. We had tired, but ready feet towards the end of day, and the rest we needed was going to be the gasoline for the rest of our drive through the weekend. The supporting actors, had little fault in doing just that for the likes of moe. and Umphrey’s Mcgee, and we knew we had to be ready for the fireworks still yet to come. The way we look at it is the way we always have, how can you beat this? You simply cannot beat a Summer Camp lineup, it’s a complete course, after course meal. Walking out leaves you fat, and full, satisfied, and pushing for the rest of the Summer. 

    From here I would like to highlight, and mention those perfomances that will leave a lasting impression on my life for a long time to come. There’s something about jam music that may seem dull, and aimless to those who just quite don’t understand it. And for those of us who believe, and cherish those memories, we are always surprised in new ways. Whether it was your favorite band, or a band you have never seen, there’s always something. The beauty and nakedness of the people on stage is as great as those watching. When you’re there, you’re there, and there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. My top five from each day. 

    Friday May 27th, 2016

- E.G.I - 1:30 Pm - Campfire Stage

    If you’ve never heard of the eccentric, and young group E.G.I, I would highly recommend you find your ears to that tune. Good friends, and great people make up this already powerful engine of musicians from the Northwest Suburbs of Illinois. There’s only so much you are able to do with, and they took the opportunity to take it all. Starting off a high energy, and whirling set of originals, and covers alike, they absolutely set the stage for an amazing Friday at Three Sisters. 

- Tauk - 5:00 Pm - Starshine Stage

    This dirty-ass funk four piece from New York, has never failed to disappoint in anyway, or at anytime. This up and coming unique mixture of progressive, melodic, and experimental background makes up for some God Damn sexy grooves, and never falls short of that either. Their set hit my ears, just like the sunshine to my skin, and once again destroyed the airwaves for an incredible set. 

- Greensky Bluegrass - 6:45 Pm - Moonshine Stage
    What on God’s given Earth is a Summer Camp without some hoedown bluegrass, and who else would we want it from then these boys? These guys from Kalamazoo really know what to do with five stringed instruments and pipes like the Gods themselves. For those who were there know the wildness of this mid-evening 

- STS9 - 12:30 Pm - Sunshine Stage 
    So for years I have not seen Tribe, I actually haven’t seen them since the late Murphy bass lines that we all knew, and had cherished before the downfall. Let me just say, with the Moon high, Alana, and the rest of Sector 9 really knew how to bring a new heat. The engine was running strong, and I’ll be relying on that machine for shows to come. 

- Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - 2:00 Pm - Campfire Stage 

    Where music meets the strange, and the wild, we find ourselves standing in front of a stage of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. Sounds unlike most bands, and energy not sold anywhere else but in their crowds, they brought a fantastic end to a Friday at Summer Camp. For two-hours I was in awe at my virgin experience of this band performing some of the most memorable songs that I had heard across the board this weekend. 

Saturday May 28th, 2016 

- Steve Kimock and Friends - 2:00 Pm - Moonshine Stage 

    For us here at Grateful Music, and our head of staff Kevin Long (alone a veteran of hundreds of shows across the eras) Kimock is a man of every hour. And this band, is not one to bring any sourness to a happy mood. Kimock and his band had presented themselves with the wonders not many had expected, and the crowd was most definitely thinner than I anticipated. Making it one of the most intimate, and well-rounded crowd pleasing shows of the weekend. Always, and forever, thank you Steve. 

- Fishbone - 3:00 Pm - Sunshine Stage 

    For a band that I have listened to for years, wondering what it would be like to be able to see them, my dreams came true. Formed in 1979, in California, rolling through tastes of punk, rock, ska, and even soulful melodic transitions Fishbone brought it all back to life. For a Sunny afternoon, there was no other place I would rather have been then here at 3:00 Pm. 

- Wailers - 3:45 Pm - Moonshine Stage 
    For one of the only shows every friend in my festy group this year had the luck to be together at, I don’t think we could have beat it. Arms wrapped, and voices singing along to our favorite Bob songs, we truly were beyond ecstatic. The entire crowd swayed and sung to the reggae wonders of the famous, and pleasing band. This was an absolute must-see. 

- Soap perfoms David Bowie - Midnight - Soulshine Tent 

    Speaks for itself. In a year that we had lost a few powerful, and extremely influential musicians that laid a lasting impact on our lives, this was just perfect. Heartwarming. 

- Turbo Suit w/ Ryan Stasik performing Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ - 2:00 Pm - Soulshine Tent

    For a twist on a classic, there was very little to complain about here. We have all sung the likes of Cobain’s treasured secrets, and most memorable songs. To hear them live, and continuously was an experience not to forget. 

Sunday May 28th, 2016 

- The Main Squeeze - 2:00 Pm - Starshine Stage

There is nothing that can beat some summer sun, then some funky ass beats with horns, and that’s exactly what Indiana based band The Main Squeeze specializes in. Today was one for dancing, and kicking off my shoes, and getting jiggy-wit-it barefoot was all I had my eyes set on all day during this set. Bump, and groove, and for Corey Frye and the rest of the boys, they deserve a salute for this Sunday afternoon set.

- The Motet - 4:00 Pm - Moonshine Stage 

    For all of those who love the funk, we have the best in the business. From wild cover shows on Halloween, to unforgettable original sets, and festival sets alike, The Motet are a force to be reckoned with. Above and beyond my expectations time and time again. 

- Lotus - 7:45 Pm - Moonshine Stage 

    Its been a while since I have seen the beautiful band of Lotus, and the sounds they represent to us. The show was one to die for, and I would have been happy to leave the weekend on that note. Lotus brought the absolute best they could have, and did everything possible with the time they had to share with us. The crowd hit an all-time mediation at this point in the night, with hugs, and kisses galore.

- moe. Both sets at Moonshine Stage 

For me Summer Camp was always because of moe. And not to mention the sanctity of having moe. serve me drinks in the VIP lounge during the weekend, and finally being able to meet some of my heroes, these shows on Sunday brought me to new respects. For a band that can wail out a chord progression, and magically find its way hightailing out the back trail on their way home, I have never been more in awe of their performance. There is something about being able to improvise in front of twenty thousand plus eyes on you at once. Thanks for a wonderful weekend boys. 

Crosseyed and Phishless - 2:00 Pm - Soulshine Tent 

It’s beyond reasonable to note that ending the weekend with not only some Talking Heads, but Phish mashed together, played by some talented musicians, is the only way. One of the most exciting and out there Yamars I have ever heard, had me smiling, and chattering throughout the night until I had hit the hay. To the end of the night, cheers. 

Until next year Scampers, take care of yourselves!