A trail of wagons scooted their way towards the entrance packed up to the brim with colorful sleeping bags and backpacks as our imaginations flourished with thoughts of what surprises Summer Camp had in store for us this year. The 16th annual Summer Camp Music Festival brought out its regulars as well as steadily attracting many newcomers to join in this life changing event. This wild adventure which is created around music is comfortably encapsulated in Three Sister Park in Chillicothe, Illinois. The event is host to more than 20,000 attendees, over 100 bands on seven stages on a span four days (counting Thursday Pre-Party) and has proudly managed to intertwine funky jam bands along side of the ever-expanding genres of electronica and Dj sets.
As you make your way into the camp; of course the usual amenities were conveniently placed in your pathway. A general store and alcohol/beverage stand greet you just as you enter and further down the straight away were a variety of food vendors including; Thai, Asian, Greek, pizza, burritos, coffee, and much more. There were also beautifully designed clothing vendors supplying; bikinis, leggings, T- shirts, and hats in which many incorporated sacred geometry entangled with expansion of colorful supernovas. A wide array of bohemian styled jewelry and festival pins also filled many of the kiosks at the park.
In the night the forest went cosmic and lined in tents from the hundreds of campers who hurried in early to get a spot in the shade. As the whites of our eyes began to glow within the black light and the neon colors framed us within and the forest became an art installation in which we had all become a participant in. Tapestries lined the dirt pathways and became home to fest goers. Attendees dressed of belly dancer belts, sun dresses, moccasins, and harem pants filled the festival from one end to the next; venturing out with wide eyed discovery.
There were several types of musical acts in the festival this year from jam bands, electronic-funk, blue grass, hip-hop, dub-step, and Dj sets. The difference of musical genres allowed a great diversity of scenes packed into one fest. This festival was made on good vibes and the musical acts were expertly selected to encompass just that.
The group Moe. has established themselves around the jam band community as one of the favorites in the improvisational rock scene. They rose in popularity in the 90’s with bands such as Phish. Fans are coined “Moe.rons” comparatively as grateful dead fans are called “Deadheads.” They opened their first of two Sunday sets with a cover of the The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and joined by Allie Kral of Yonder Mountain String Band on fiddle! It was definetly a crowd pleaser to see two great groups be able to collaborate in such a way!
Lotus Formed in 1999 and after a few years of playing what they describe as “jamtronica” infused with jazz-funk. I definitely noticed that their set was based a lot around rhythmic aspects which in effect gave the crowd a very chill feel. I had a great time relaxing and vibing out at this set.
An appearance made by the Roots drew many old fans to the stage to reminisce upon such hit that ruled the 90’s. The Roots are a legendarily live hip-hop band with one of the most recognizable drummers of our time, Quest Love! They are one of the few successful bands in their genre and still proving to hold the crown!
Warmly welcomed newcomers to Scamp was local band EGI. They’ve built quite the fan base around the Chicago area and never fail to impress. EGI has managed to incorporate inspiration found from Carlos Santana and Phish that in effect have skyrocketed this band into one of my personal favorites.
Three nights of Umphrey’s Mcgee but it still left the crowd wanting more! Some songs that could be heard on their set lists included; Mad love, Weight Around, 40’s, Sludge and Death and many others. Each member is vibrantly fluent in instrumentation and well bonded as a band that their performance has become second nature to them. The sharpness the drums held were heard clearly above a blanket of guitar melodies in a beautiful mixture of classic rock and jam band inspiration. Umphrey’s almost linguistic solos connect their fans on such a level that it is no wonder so many are die hard for them.
Excitedly, During one night of an Umphrey’s set; lightning could be seen as it spread like spider webs while fanning through the night’s sky. A thunderous boom and sporadic flashes of light only to make the music all the more monumental. I could have sworn it was planned as the lightning accentuated the vibrance of the gorgeous stage lighting design in which drowned the stage in colors and perfected climatic energy of the drums.
Manic Focus and Break Science were Funk meets electronica and underlying element of old school hip hop. While Big Grizmatik went just as big as the name says while incorporated a live saxophone with an unbelievable solo that would forever stay with fans.
Shiba San took electronic music into more into an Ibiza feel and flocking to this scene were the hula hoopers and poi artists of the underground scene. The Vibe Tent was home to many acts of this sort. It was a grand spectacle of dancers who took the stage on the side of the dj. There hula hoopers confidently weaved through an encyclopedia of tricks. A feline poi enthusiast didn’t hesitate to glance into the eyes of her fans and truly captivated an audience of her own teasing flirtatiousness.
If you were looking for some of the harder dubstep; then you surely would have wanted to have checked out acts like NGHTMRE, Liquid Stranger, Excision, and Protohype.
Excision took the Moonshine stage on Friday night and had the crowd in a chaotic rampage. If you had not understood the world of dub before; Excision made it clear what it was exactly about! His work submerged an audience into a whomping frenzy and his huge drops began to transform a crowd of tree huggers into a whole new skin of relentless party animals.
Snails put on a unforgettable Dj set where he executed an epic smooth transition in which he arpeggiated 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 into an infinite frequency that lingered through the crowd. He thickened his beats with the use of slimy tentacle like sound fx that teased a Nintendo like snail logo which was promoted on the video backdrop. Surprisingly, He also threw in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody where the crowd shouted the lyrics right along to the music.
Protohype proved to be well worth the wait performing Sunday night starting at three in the morning. He infused many elements of rap and dubstep.
I was truly blown away by the projection visuals artists during his set. Their visions gravitated us into the otherworldly dimension. The art was not for a second over shadowed in comparison but help transform into a fully embodied experience.
If the music wasn’t enough to fancy you; There were daily work shops and activities which included; belly dancing workshop, stepping into the hoop, cultivation care, kick ball and on top of that morning meditations and yoga sessions! These activities connected people in a more intimate level making it easy to create new friendships.
All in all Summer Camp 2016 compiled a vast array of diversity suited to please all its attendees. As an interactive playground for adults and children alike and has not only allowed its fest goers to let loose and become closer to their inner child; subsequently it has provided an outlet to expand spiritually. The knowledge gained from such an immersive experience can be taught no where else! True friendships are made, appreciation for the earth is cultivated, and a joy of life is taught from living in the moment. Scamp is more than a music festival in the eyes of its attendees. Here festie goers have adopted its ways into their lives and scamp has become a quintessential element of what makes them who they are.
Article by: Lana Eucalyptus
Photos by: Jerry Kamysz, Josh Skol, Blazej Zalewski