Through polarized lenses your skin’s pigment visibly confronts a lack of awareness. Clutching the wheel loosely, your lazily bent elbow angles awkwardly through the unfamiliar door. History now showing a thoughtless decision as you watch the pigment glow, lacking the SPF shield needed to journey on the exposed mirrored finish of American superhighways. Desmond Dekker’s “Fu Manchu” flows hypnotically from the deck. You realize, that for the length of the track, you’ve been lost in sound. Rush hour traffic experienced not once, but twice without intermission, driven by ancestral concepts of manifest destiny. Only now this desire holds a harmless personal purpose (chasing a moment). While each unique joule gathers, Summer Camp 2013 slowly takes form, as the future becomes the present, fleeting into reflections of priceless personal lessons. Each custom tailored by your own fitted design, placing you in the most desired and sought after moments. Leaving behind the emptiness of chasing the musical dragon. Summer Camp 2013’s mastercraft provides you with those moments of awe – perfectly lost in sound.
I didn’t show up to Illinois with burnt skin nor did I leave that way. I arrived on Thursday for the pre-party and was greeted with views of wind rippling saw grass hills, the perfect winamp visualizer plug-in for the sound checks echoing through Three Sisters Park, as tens of thousands unknowingly bound through the moist parking lots, toted half their body weight in festy gear, only to wait hours for search and entry. Singing and grateful of Mother Nature’s first cleanse, the masses set stake, filling the densely populated campground of the forest, taking on life and ultimately being the place to go when the stages shutdown and fun is still to be had. The Grassroots Camp had the GRC Dome at the head of these woods with a stage and scheduled performers including artists such as Dopapod and SunSqaubi, offering rich sound and an amazing lighting rig. The installation provided a museum-like showing of fitted flat brims and a thumping party throughout the weekend.
Breaking on through the tree line to fields of exposed camping mingling with dirt laden pathways, these vital arteries were lined with official vendors. Food and crystals in no particular order made for two distinct hearts of town, beginning with the Camping Stage and SoulShine Tent that housed an impressive stage. The walls were inhabited with information stations, community programs, sustainability minded tables, and festival workshops. All were backed with positive energy, radiating from the locally employed staff and volunteers. The locals who camped on the grounds over a week prior to the first banded wrist made this year the thirteenth consecutive experience of soul spilling work. They are connected to the music in a way that any Scamp “custy” couldn’t comprehend. When “real recognizes real,” or “the divine in them sees and understands the divine in you,” a true sense of respect pours from each artistic performance.
Thursday’s line-up was perfectly planned, each performance complementing the next. As the sun settled, the Octobrish climate became part of this story. Coming to terms with the frigid reality, the tribes made the trek to the genesis chapter of the Red Barn. In my peripheral was Jaik Willis raining talent on the crowd from the Campfire stage. Looking up, a bright eyed crowd, in their freshest neon garb, drooping with rapidly evaporating sweat, squeezed through the only exit of the now silent Red Barn. Making the connection, Minnesota had ended.
Quixotic went on to an audience that recognized the beauty of the performance and the complexity of the new world bass music but couldn’t format this recognition into dance. The violinist, drummer, and matriarch commanding the stunning array of midi and synth, birthed pockets of raging bodies, while a silk dancer graced the universe with sexually practiced strength that left the boys in the crowd confused, while the perplexed majority waited to clap at the end of the track in dire need of some future sound guidance. Their chance for redemption was on Saturday when Quixotic performed along with ill.Gates and many others in a generous offering of raw talent for those who didn’t have Barn tickets. Quixotic’s epic reverberations were translated verbally with new found praise the rest of the weekend.
The Floridian humidity, held tight by the chic metal walls of the venue, forced a forgotten reality. Coming to terms with the 38 degree air, aided by a quadruple espresso perfectly tamped by my dedicated caffeine pusher eased the frigid climate. Espresso at this quality and quantity normally would dent the wallet. At $2.50, the Coffee Wagon conducts their business properly, and I see them flourishing in the near future. The magical elixir sparked up conversation. After some banter, an introduction resulted. A touch of serendipity, it’s Fro, the drummer from Dopapod. On his way to his set he mentioned, “how the amazing energy of the crowd dictated the experience,” which proved to be a visible force behind their next performance. Blessed, I was gifted musically by Dopapod in the Vibe Tent. The composed chaos consistently created dimension and with cyclical fashion shattered their structured art, fragmenting and reforming into beautiful melodies, enriched with a force felt from each member. I savored the pulse raising adrenaline boost for the unanticipated cold night, as sleeping was difficult, waiting to praise the sunrise.
The new day was filled with sun, warmth, and amazing performances. Friday’s morning set by M.M.W. gave warm breath back to Summer Camp. Throwing down back to back sets, “Umphreaks” basked in the art they know and love. Event co-founder’s Moe. and Umphrey’s McGee played a respected six times throughout the weekend. As most often when asked “what’s your next show?,” the answer is usually one of the two contributing loved legends. As decibel levels raised, the precipitation began to fall. Y.M.S.B ripped apart the Red Barn causing a hoot-nanny paired ho-down, the ideal party to meld into the barn. The night sky readily filled Yonder’s used eardrums with the sonic limits of rolling thunder, which resonated deeply of events to come.
As the rain broke midday, hopes of a passing weather front for Saturday came true only to be ripped away after Conspirator became the rightful owners of the Moonshine Stage. Destroying genres, they conjured up the late nighters from REM phase slumber, as the weather complemented morning snoozing. Wet and muddy was in fashion by mid-day. Brownie bobbed his head humbly as they produced the progressive dubjamtronic frequencies, engulfing the synchronous mass in the Moonshine’s bowl shaped crater. Diplo took stage, while Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe swayed a crowd of thousands on the other side of the festival. Thievery Corporation followed a massive mental breakdown which Diplo makes certain occurs in all his fans. Cornmeal, GRiZ, Gramatik, The Werks, Break Science, and a heart stopper by Savoy, determined the weekends peak a part of Saturday’s flow. EOTO matched the heavy electronic influence in real time as each show is performed 100% live. This element along with one of the best stage designs in the industry, puts them under the must experience catagory. The Lotus flower stage is the work of Zebbler Berdovsky, who projects his art onto his design. Zeb informed me that the Lotus almost didn’t make it to Scamp, as it was booked for another show. The visual representation of art was all encompassing, from stage to dance floor, where influential visionaries such as Andy Reed, (pictured left) shared their masterpieces up close. The time slots were designed to perfectly match each demographic, style, genre, tempo, and collaboration that the chance of missing greatness was slim to none. Epic musical moments existed around every thirty foot mud pond. The great force of fluid artistic purity combined with the crowd’s appreciation showed through dance and love, making the rain an afterthought. The sense of comfort clarified a growing anticipation, S.T.S.9’s late night dance provoking sure shot. The apparent throwback setlist, freshly fortified with the sounds of Dominic Lalli’s sax upped the game. Dom’s intensity building abilities coupled with the peaks of Sound Tribe‘s cinematic masterpieces (perfected during S.T.S.9’s wonder years) molded a sense of mystery into the genuinely music-centric audience. The crowd threw down respectively.
The combined energies tested the Red Barn’s integrity – the walls seemed to flux and bow. The building was teasing collapse as the crowd was deafened by their own whistles and shouts of approval. Resonating from every fortunate soul was newly acquired understandings. Uncontrollable conversation filled the hour. The vocal absent dance floor turned into a social of similarities and common interests, blurring the distinction of self, strengthening the infant microcosm during the brief intermission. An instant connectivity as the electronic dream team took stage. GRiZ, Gramatik, and Big Gigantic took over as the four focused the bass cannons on Summer Camp, and switched the setting to stun. Encompassing originality through live drumming and horns, a foundation formed to complement the unique jazz core – the formula for progression. Providing shape to the performance were touches of drum and bass, dub, glitch, and unclassified experimental offerings, breaking preconceived genres and labels that stagnate artistic expression. The air was charged by transformation. Entering the Red Barn that night were a thousand separate entities. Through liberating expression, diversity was shared equally throughout the whole as every person gained understanding into the event’s heart and soul. Now an epitome of the purity in music festival culture, the Red Barn housed a rare form of energy. Like Tesla’s final creation, the energy produced will be heard years after, powering the decision of returning the following year. This barn is special: the uncontrollable love, the mingling and dancing, the intertwined wavelengths operating at the same frequency, connecting everything through an understood vibration, expressed with a wink and the satisfied signature smile.
The Saturday night utopian microcosm became exclusive to the Red Barn, as the overall theme of Summer Camp involved the moments between the music which held heavy vibrations due to a large portion of campgrounds occupied by undercover law enforcement who have no musically driven intentions. Their sole intent is the suppression of illegal substances. Summer Camp type festivals are virtually devoid of violence with a few isolated examples. Making a legal interruption, a negative, life altering experience for ticket purchasing Scampers on vacation a terrifying contemplation. Justifications for those affected are not apparent, due to the absence of violent crime. The unprecedented honesty, empathy, and sense of community shared by the majority of festival culture are not prevalent traits of the felony offenders that law enforcement is programmed to target. The visible police presence whose mission is “to serve and protect,” projected an attitude indicative to SoCal riots of the early 90’s, following turf feud protocol. Smiling would be a huge step forward. Backing that smile with a genuine lack of stereotype and judgement would be a great shift in paradigm. Both of these actions are needed for a balance to occur. Forming a healthy, co-existence between the authoritarian police force and those who call Summer Camp home would establish some semblance of peace to the otherwise incomprehensible relationship.
When the late night festivities retired, music culture’s angelic presence wept as a storm front relentlessly released two inches of rain an hour onto the previously supersaturated Three Sisters Park. The time to head to the tent and stay dry began that moment and ended when Trey Band reluctantly exited the stage on Sunday, after one of the most dangerous and mind bending back to back sets to date. With lightning connecting ether to earth and winds gusting to 50 mph, the storm’s intensity increased exponentially as Sunday’s line up grew thinner. Aligning with nature’s powerful addition, the intensity was matched by time altering drumming, momentum creating solos and the signature fluid jam that transforms the Trey Band fanatics into Jim Henson inspired puppets. Trey’s legendary noodling tugged the fan’s strings at random, a frantic and unique dance took over the drenched field. Visible only by the living bolts of information, rhythmically tied to every eighth note, illuminating the thousands of loosely strung Fraggles, rocking out to the final musical moments. Savoring the last frequency while nature’s dangerously chaotic addition made Summer Camp’s final outdoor performance timeless. Finally realizing through the passion that the probability for tragedy from the lightning striking the field and the horizontal sheets of flash flood forming rains grew each memorable minute. Trey Band called it quits after reevaluating their own sanity, peaking at greatness while reaching into the future for the unknown. To the song of severe weather sirens sounding from VIP camping, Mother Nature showed her true power to create experiences. Dictating the bar to be set perfectly for the band’s next appearance on the ironically named SunShine Stage.
The morning gloom showed major flooding with the Moonshine stage’s bowl feet deep with water. The absence of police or paid staff made leaving a difficult task for the majority, but the festival’s heart remained intact by the still present volunteers and working local support who were manning festi-cabs and directing tow trucks to soften the harsh reality facing the already drained campers now exiting the population. The parking lot was a two wheel drive vehicle’s graveyard. The mud swallowed cars covered the majority of the former parking lot. Glances of envy and desperation as our rental SUV effortlessly floated over the dream-crushing disaster area stopping thousands from going home that week.
Remembering Thursday, the large field of parked cars hold freshly packed tents and ice filled coolers. Dancing through a web of voices, ignorantly weaving a robust medley of multiple Jerry inspired tunes, a beautiful group of hoopers gracefully make way to the front gate. Formed around the parking lot field is a positive resonance, vibrating a reflective expression of perpetuated frequencies of the future through randomly shuffled and fragmented experiences. The music meshing with fluorescent bubbles and sun kissed anticipation paints the expectations for the utopian realm awaiting. The repercussions from a lack of insight resulted in suffering for thousands. A disaster relief center became a welcomed reality in Chillicothe, Illinois. The ability to produce a temporary utopian gathering should be cherished as this is imbedded deep within the cultural movement formed from intentions to further spirituality, artistic expression, universal freedoms, and every good thing that grows awareness throughout the collective.
The Summer Camp Festival served as the Official 2013 Festival Season’s Entrance Exam – graded simply by pass or fail. The answers to these lessons should be protected alongside the collectively shared purpose of a music festival, which is the music. The privilege included with the four day pass is a musically focused experience and can easily be taken away. An unwise decision can ultimately cause the zip-tie yielding outcome that provides the monetary gain driven motives of the county’s court run collection agencies. The responsibility of choice is a universal right, shouldered by every conscious Earthling. There is no one to blame, only realizations to be made. These decisions are weighted with the accountability assigned to each individual’s actions. The manifestation of experience begins simply by purchasing a festival pass. Creating your reality as choices are made. Summer Camp 2013’s musical experience, premeditated a flawless crowd flow and accurate energy prediction, producing set time perfection. This art form requires years of experience and extreme common sense to showcase the artists musical passion. Summer Camp managed to produce magic consistently from the seven stages. Methodical planning fueled by the ambition required to manifest priceless experiences for others to share. Bound by creating the same timeless reality, passing the 2013’ Festival Season’s Entrance Exam is simple and pure. With intentions humbly rooted in the rich Earth, the tree’s canopy gratefully protects the golden musical desire to be lost in sound. Gathering with a shared purpose of celebrating love interpreted by dance and provoked musically through the artists soul. Exposing the primal desire, to become one with the shared human experience in that “lost in sound” awe inspiring moment. The unforgiving experience given by Summer Camp 2013 holds no monetary value, only reflections of priceless teachings learned from four days spent at camp in Chillicothe, IL.
To link you to the kind people in Illinois ► SummerCampFestival.com