Summer Camp Music Festival 2013 Preview

Summer camp is all about seeing old friends and making new ones, taking part in activities you will find nowhere else, and reveling in a place that feels completely separate from the rest of the world.   The aptly named Summer Camp Music Festival has reinvented this experience for an older crowd with top musical acts providing the soundtrack.  Getting lost in the forest, huddling around the campfire, and staying up until sunrise are all common occurrences at SCamp.  This year the festival includes field day competitions, camp counselors to document the festivities, a treasure hunt, workshops led by artists, and much more.

Now in its 13th year, Summer Camp takes place over Memorial Day weekend in Three Sisters Park just outside of Chillicothe, Illinois.  What began as a small jam-centric gathering in 2001 has ballooned to become one of the top camping festivals in the Midwest.  This year’s lineup features over 100 acts performing on six stages.  With artists ranging from rock to electronic, funk to bluegrass, and everywhere in between there’s bound to be something for everyone.  This year’s lineup is led by mainstays moe. and Umphrey’s Mcgee, each playing three days, as well as renowned artists including STS9, The Avett Brothers, Big Boi, Trey Anastasio, Thievery Corporation, and Diplo.  Here is just a handful of the entertainment in store at Summer Camp 2013…

Spirit Family Reunion: Thursday, 7:30 Campfire Stage and Friday 6:00 Camping Stage

Summer Camp is always stacked with great bluegrass, folk, and acoustic artists.  This year is no different with one of the top to see being Spirit Family Reunion.  The Brooklyn-based act first gained attention playing in NYC subways before moving on to share the stage with Trampled By Turtles last year. In their own words they play “homegrown American music to stomp, clap, shake and holler with.”

Medeski, Martin, and Wood: Friday 4:00, Moonshine Stage

MMW is keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood, and drummer Billy Martin.  With over 20 years of experience under their belts they have been a constant force in the jazz world while gaining a reputation for their live performances.  Expect this to be the first set that really gets people moving at the Moonshine stage on Friday.

The Soul Rebels: 9:00PM Friday, Campfire and 1:00AM Soulshine

The Soul Rebels is a brass band from New Orleans that combines traditional brass band style with modern sounds.  They will surely have the crowd dancing to their horns’ blend of funk, R&B, and hip-hop.  They will also be playing a special late night set as De La Soul Rebels in which they will recreate classic De La Soul tracks.

SAVOY: 8:00 Saturday, Campfire Stage

Colorado-bred, New York based electronic group SAVOY has become one of the most exciting names in the genre.  These guys have skills and they are not confined to one sound.  Whether it’s their earlier hard electro sounds, dubstep tracks such as “I’m In Need”, or slick banger “We Are the Sun”, they know how to make people move.  Scampers will be some of the first to get a live taste of the trio’s freshly released Three Against Nature EP. Their 8 o’clock set time should be just in time to light up the early night with their impressive laser show.

Indigo Sun: 6:00 Sunday, Camping Stage

If you’re in the mood for some saxophone but would like it leading a smooth full band as opposed to being combined with a DJ deck then Indigo Sun is for you.  They have a scheduled set but search the forest for their campsite where they have been known to have impromptu jams through the night.

Big Grizmatik: 2:45AM Saturday (Sunday), Red Barn

After getting together at last year’s Electric Forest for a surprise set Big Gigantic, Gramatik, and Griz are reassembling for a special late night set to close down the Red Barn after STS9 on Saturday night.  Since last year Griz and Gramatik have gotten together for a few incredible sets, but this will be the first time they will have the power their three talents since their initial outing.  Late night shows in the Red Barn require an extra ticket and they once again sold out almost instantly this year.  You can still get in by buying a VIP upgrade or possibly by giving that really thirsty guy next to you at Gramatik’s daytime set a drink of water (you never know…).

Diplo: 4:30 Sunday, Moonshine

Diplo has seemingly been everywhere in the world, but this will be his first stop at Summer Camp.  Recently he’s been touring Europe with his Major Lazer project so let’s hope the change of pace leads to a set that gets people moving while exploring his wide range of styles.

Big Boi: 6:30 Sunday, Moonshine

Every year Summer Camp seems to have at least one hip-hop legend on hand.  De La Soul and Common delivered some of the festival’s best sets in previous years.  In 2013 Big Boi of Outkast will be in charge of educating the crowd with his hip-hop wisdom.  This set is sure to include Outkast hits, tracks from his successful solo work, and cuts from last year’s excellent Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.  Big Boi’s unmistakable flow is sure to teach the crowd a thing or two.

The Soulshine Tent:

The Soulshine Tent is one of the most unique and exciting parts of Summer Camp.  You can stop by early to start your morning right with a group yoga session.  On Friday afternoon any ultimate Umphrey’s fan must stop by for a chance to win a coveted Golden Ticket.  There will be multiple drives to help various causes this year with a Conscious Alliance canned food drive (bring 20 cans and get a SCamp poster!), a cell phone drive, a shoe drive, and for the first time this year a seed drive where you will be able to trade or pick up new seeds to start your summer garden.  And by participating in all things Soulshine you are partaking in the Summer Camp Treasure Hunt.  Check the back of your program to learn more on how to cross off items and get access to a special The Everyone Orchestra (featuring Victor Wooten, Joel Cummins, and more) set Sunday in the Red Barn.

Summer Camp Tips:

– Arrive early for the Thursday Pre-Party. Not only is it an extra day of great music, but also you will be able to snatch the prime camp spots and get acclimated before the full crowd arrives.

– Bring a wagon to transport supplies from your car to your site.  Yes, a Radio Flyer style wagon.

– The festival comes alive at night.  Music runs from 11AM-4AM, so be ready to sacrifice some sleep for music.  Even if you weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket to the late night sets in the limited capacity Red Barn, you’re still at Summer Camp.  There will be acts playing at the Campfire Stage and Vibe tent into the wee hours of the night.

– Be prepared for varied weather.  It can range from sweltering during the day to chilly at night.  Last year temperatures constantly neared triple digits and it felt like the Grapes of Wrath by Sunday; the year prior there was significant rainfall that turned the grounds into a giant mud pit.

– Meet new people. Try new things.  There’s no better place for it.

By Mitchell Davis

Mitch Davis is a University of Illinois graduate that spends his days trying to see as many live shows and ski as many mountains as possible.

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