Summer Camp Festival, Three Sisters Park, Chillicothe, IL – 5/23-25
moe. kicked off things on the Moonshine Stage Friday afternoon at 1:30. It was the first time in Summer Camp’s eight years that they didn’t headline each night, which gave Umphrey’s McGee the headlining spot.
“Umphrey’s has been a big part of this and they’re never gotten a headlining night,” said moe. drummer, Vinnie Amico. “[We thought] maybe if we opened the day that would get a bunch more people to come to the festival early and just kinda open it up with bang.” And that’s what they did. The stage was as packed as any of the headlining shows were all weekend.
They charged into “Captain America,” with guitarist Chuck Garvey flexing his chops immediately on the song’s solo section. A solo from guitarist Al Schnier segued into “Understand.” “Okayalright” got the crowd pumped and singing as loud as moe. To continue with the up and down rollercoaster effect, the mellow ballad “Faker” followed, which picked up with a hard-rocking solo from Schnier. Rob Derhak eased into “Timmy Tucker” with a slap bass solo. The set closed with a jammed out “Head” that segued in and out of the Sticks and Stones instrumental “Z02.”
After moe.’s set, it was immediately evident that this was going to be a weekend of eclectic music. The Lee Boys, who came out of the sacred steel scene, an African-American gospel tradition that started in the 1930s when pedal steel guitars were used in churches instead of organs, were on the Sunshine Stage playing an upbeat, funky gospel sound. At the time same, Future Rock played their lively brand of electronic music on the Starshine Stage, while Dark Meat played their psychedelic, punk rock, bluesy, jazzy, Zappa-esque music on the Camping Stage.
The next set I caught was Girl Talk, who turned the Sunshine Stage into a dance party. Even when messing with his computer, Girl Talk was constantly bouncing around. His hip-hop mixes took bits and pieces of songs from all over the place, such as Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen,” Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” Metallica’s “One,” Heart’s “Magic Man” and David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.”
Umphrey’s McGee kicked off their headlining show with "The Floor" into "Smell the Mitten." Things really kicked into gear with Utopian Fir, featuring a colossal jam that segued into Rocker Part II. The set closed with their unique double cover, “Come Closer,” which combines lyrics and music from The Beatles’ “Come Together” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.”
While Umphrey’s took a break, the Flaming Lips headlined on the Sunshine Stage. The set included a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same,” with naked female dancers, “Fight Test,” a “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part I” sing-a-long with only keyboards playing and Wayne Coyne’s obligatory anti-war George Bush rant before “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.”
“We gotta get these fucking Republicans out of there,” Wayne said. While his views are probably similar to 98 percent of the audience, his five minutes of preaching to the choir seemed to push some people away from the music.
Umphrey’s started set two with a brief “Jazz Odyssey” into a very energetic “Mulche’s Odyssey.” “Divisions” segued into “Phil’s Farm,” which went back into “Divisions” via a techno-trance jam, which came back during “Divisions” in the form an electronic drum solo. The set ended up with a very epic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
Umphrey’s had an equally epic Saturday afternoon set, opening with “Got Your Milk (Right Here)” and then bringing it down for “Higgins.” “Great American” featured Mike Racky on pedal steel and George Jones from the Chicage Afrobeat Project on percussion. They premiered the upbeat, face-melting “Waist Down,” which segued into “Walletsworth” and closed off the set with the heavy metal sounds of “Wizard Burial Ground.”
After Umphrey’s McGee, many festival goers ventured over to the Sunshine Stage for Blind Melon, who played a mix of old classics such as “No Rain” and “Changes” and new songs off their April release, For My Friends. New vocalist Travis Warren, whose vocal inflections and overall sound resemble original lead vocalist, the late Shannon Hoon, sounds like he was singing Blind Melon songs 24-7 until he got the gig. A perfect replacement.
After Blind Melon, The Roots took the Sunshine Stage and got the crowd dancing. Keeping with the weekend’s theme of random covers, a medley during their set featured dance classic “Apache,” Ol Dirty Bastard’s “I Like it Raw” and Mims’ “This is Why I’m Hot.” Most of the band took a break so drummer ?uestlove, guitarist Kirk Douglas and bassist Owen Biddle could play their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War.”
The song started out with Douglas singing the lyrics to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” later going into “Taps” and even teasing a riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused.” The very extended version of the song featured a slowly, but delicately constructed jam that allowed Douglas to showcase his chops in a way The Roots’ hip-hop material doesn’t usually allow. Keeping with the theme of covers, “The Seed 2.0,” a Cody Chesnutt cover, segued into Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.”
moe.’s first set Saturday night featured a lot of new songs, opening with The Conch’s “She.” Allie Kral joined the band to play fiddle on “Cathedral” and “Conviction Song.” Later in the set, festival founder Ian Goldberg was introduced by bassist Rob Derhak, who asked him to give the crowd free drinks. Ian offered up $2 Jagermeister shots and Jagerbombs, which was met with much rejoicing.
moe.’s second set started with “St. Augustine” with G. Love on harmonica. The band then covered Peter Gabriel’s “Salisbury Hill,” featuring percussionist Jim Loughlin on the malletkat. Not only did moe. do the song justice while adding their own flavor to it, but it quickly became a sing-a-long. Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger joined moe. for “Moth,” which turned into a guitar duel, with Jake testing out a new toy he discussed at that morning’s guitar workshop, a ring that makes wah-wah noises. Fans may have witnessed him flailing his arm about in a very rock-star motion, which is what created the wah sounds with his guitar. The set ended with an upbeat, hard rocking version of “Brent Black.”
Sunday was the day for funk, with Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk funking things up at 2:30 p.m. on the Sunshine Stage. The New Orleans funk band played an hour of tight, upbeat danceable rhythms. Bassist Tony Hall, who has played with Trey Anastasio, Dave Matthews and Friends and Jewel, played lead bass for most of the set, picking up guitar every now and then to rip a nasty solo while Nick Daniels handled the low end and Ian Neville handled rhythm guitar. The set featured a cover by The funky Meters, who several members of Dumpstaphunk have played with. They turned the funk classic “Africa” into “New Orleans,” paying homage to their hometown.
After Dumpstaphunk, it was time for the long-awaited set from George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. With five guitarists, two horns, four backup singers (which turned into five), they opened the show with Parliament’s “Funkentelechy,” then played “Bop Gun (Endangered Species)” into “Gamin’ On Ya,” all of which provided plenty of vocal spotlights and hair-raising guitar solos. George Clinton came out about 50 minutes into the band’s two-hour set for Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop.” The band then played its way through P-Funk classics like “Red Hot Mama,” “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” and “Up for the Down Stroke.”
Most songs were jammed out, bringing the music down to showcase bassist Lige Curry’s flawless bass playing skills and give vocalists and guitarists chances to strut their stuff. In true P-Funk fashion, after playing “Flashlight,” they were out of time and had to stop playing after teasing the opening riffs of “(Not Just) Knee Deep.”
moe. ended Summer Camp with several sit-ins. Umphey’s McGee drummer Kris Myers played percussion alongside Jim Loughlin on “Queen of Everything” and U-Melt keyboardist Zac Lasher sat-in on “Recreational Chemistry.”
Summer Camp 8 proved to be the biggest, and possibly the best to date. With a constantly evolving jam scene, combined with Summer Camp’s ability to attract a diverse crowd and book bigger and bigger acts each year, this festival has nowhere to go but up.