Summer Camp 2012 | Illinois | Review | Photos

Words by: Matthew McGuire | Images by: Brian Spady

Summer Camp Music Festival :: 05.24.12-05.27.12 :: Three Sister’s Park :: Chillicothe, IL

Big photo gallery below review!

moe. and Umphrey's McGee hosted the 12th annual Summer Camp Music Festival on Memorial Day Weekend. The two bands work diligently throughout the year to take care of the little things that matter the most at music festivals. A cool, country breeze coasted down the Illinois River next to Summer Camp, and passed through the festivals grounds every day to help cool off the intense heat. The staff worked directly with law enforcement to help produce a safe environment for everyone to enjoy. This year the camping grounds were especially clean throughout the four day weekend. There was an excellent effort from the volunteers with the Summer Camp Green Team. Dry weather conditions mixed with 40 mph winds created small dust storms during Thursday and Friday, but predominately the weather and the music was phenomenal this year.

Thursday – Pre-Party

Van Ghost by Brian Spady
Guests waited patiently in line for the festival to open their front gate at noon on Thursday. Early arrival campers searched for ideal spots to setup their camping equipment in the afternoon hours.

Caravan of Thieves :: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM :: Campfire Stage

Gypsy music made its first appearance of the weekend with Caravan of Thieves from Bridgeport, Connecticut. They performed three sets throughout the weekend, and have an attractive selection of originals and covers to work with at their shows.

Van Ghost :: 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM :: Starshine Stage

The winds and the music kept going throughout Thursday with a set from Van Ghost. During the Van Ghost set the weather played a role in the live performance. It became so windy that guitarist Grant Tye noted that his guitar pick had flown out of his hand and across the stage. The band continued to stimulate the crowd with their blend of rock music from Chicago.

The Infamous Stringdusters :: 1:30 AM - 3:00 AM :: Campfire Stage

Summer Camp’s Thursday Pre-Party is known for featuring up-and-coming acts on some of the smaller and midsize stages. The Infamous Stringdusters performed a late night breakthrough set that left fans wanting more. They also played two sets the following day on the Sunshine Stage. They supported new tracks off Silver Sky and introduced the crowd to their high-country style of bluegrass.


Weir, Robinson & Greene by Brian Spady
Jimkata :: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM :: Campfire Stage

Music officially kicked off Friday with the electro-rock sounds by Jimkata. Summer Camp continued to push forward this year by increasing the size on a variety of the stages. There was talk over the weekend on creating a new late night stage setup, but it may take time to develop and produce.

Vince Herman :: 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM :: Soulshine Tent

This year, the festival setup included the Make A Difference area, where guests could enjoy intimate, acoustic performances by their favorite artists, develop skills at workshops, compete in contests, and help give back to different communities and the environment. HeadCount worked together with Vince Herman to setup an acoustic performance in the Soulshine Tent.

The Infamous Stringdusters :: 12:00 PM - 2:45 PM :: Sunshine Stage

The Infamous Stringdusters performed two burning hot sets on the Sunshine Stage. After their performance, we spoke with Andy Falco and Jeremy Garrett about what artists excited them at Summer Camp this year.

“I like Digital Tape Machine from last night. I dig that kind of stuff,” Garrett said. Falco commented about walking by Bob Weir backstage and looking forward to hearing his set today with Chris Robinson and Jackie Greene.

Kinetix by Brian Spady
Keller Williams :: 2:45 PM - 3:45 PM :: Moonshine Stage

Clear skies opened up early Friday afternoon with a gentle breeze rolling through the campgrounds. Keller Williams performed a solo set that featured a couple new tracks off his latest project with The Travelin’ McCoury’s on the Moonshine Stage. Williams takes a no-shoes policy when it comes to performing live. His set on Friday included synthesized guitar riffs, polished loop beats, clever lyrics, and a set of analog instruments that gave him the ability to be a one man band.

Kinetix :: 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM :: Campfire Stage

Kinetix, based out of Denver performed their blend of rock/funk/pop as another massive wave of attendees filled the festival grounds. Eric Blumenfeld, keyboardist for the band provided insight on how he first created a personal connection with the Summer Camp Music Festival. “I grew up in Chicago, and Summer Camp was the first music festival I ever went to growing up,” Blumenfeld said.

Umphrey's McGee by Brian Spady
Umphrey’s McGee :: 7:15 PM - 10:45 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Umphrey’s McGee premiered live versions of tracks from their latest album Death By Stereo for the Summer Camp crowd on Friday night with two action-packed sets. They ended their second set with an explosive “Day Nurse > Pay the Snucka,” which fans continued to buzz about long into the night.

Primus :: 10:30 PM - 12:00 AM :: Moonshine Stage

Primus stacked the deck with a few special guests for their performance. Bob Weir joined them for ‘The Other One’. Weir had also performed earlier in the day with Chris Robinson and Jackie Greene. Three members of Gogol Bordello jumped on stage with Primus to help stir up the setlist with their gypsy-rock influence. Overall, many fans talked about it being was one of the best sets of the weekend.

Lotus :: 11:45 PM - 1:00 AM :: Sunshine Stage

Summer Campers by Brian Spady
Luke Miller, guitarist for Lotus, sat down with us on Friday evening to talk about the band’s latest hip-hop project. Lotus performed their blend of electronic rock in front on a colossal crowd on the Sunshine Stage. “We have a lot of different projects on the hot plate right now. I haven’t told a lot of people about this but we are doing a full hip-hop album. It will be with remixes and b-sides that was unreleased from our last album with a bunch of killer MCs: Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born, Mr. Lif and maybe one more guy to wrap up the project,” Miller said.

Les Claypool & The Dead Kenny G's :: 1:00 AM - 2:15 AM :: The Red Barn

Late night energy started to run wild in the Red Barn with Les Claypool and The Dead Kenny G’s. The band features the renowned horn player Skerik and percussionist Mike Dillion. The Dead Kenny G’s tour with Brad Houser on bass guitar, but Claypool sat in for this intimate, late night performance.


Summer Camp 2012 by Brian Spady
Gaelic Storm :: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Gaelic Storm had a little issue during their journey to the Summer Camp Music Festival. The quintet comically pointed out that every band needs at least one American and one Canadian in their group if they are going to pass through customs regularly. The band delivered an extremely entertaining set on the Sunshine Stage, where they debuted “One More Day Above the Roses” for the Summer Camp crowd.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds :: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM :: Campfire Stage

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds broke in Saturday afternoon with a set on the Campfire Stage. Arleigh Kincheloe and Sasha Brown perform in the nine-piece band, which includes a dialed-in horn section. They discussed mixing up genres with their unique style of music.

“We tend to crossover in rock and soul, because you have so many soul bands but you don’t always have a soul band with a harder hitting edge to it. Of course, there is a little bit of funk in there, which makes it easy with the horns, beats and bass lines,” Kincheloe said.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars :: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM :: Sunshine Stage

The Sunshine Stage hosted the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars from West Africa. They performed tracks off of Radio Salone during their set. The record is the band’s most recent album and it stands for Sierra Leone Radio. Reuben M. Koroma is a founding member of the group and is the lead vocalist in the band. Reuben spoke about how future generations can help one another around the world. He said, “I think the only way to help is by helping the kids, because one day they will have to replace us. I believe, if people would help educate the kids, I think that would help a great deal.”

Family Groove Company by Brian Spady
Family Groove Company :: 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM :: Moonshine Stage

Festive vibes filled the Moonshine Stage area as the Family Groove Company hit the stage. They broke out a huge version of “White Picket Fence” with a horn section from Chicago. This would be the band’s second set of the weekend. They also held down the amazing vibes during the Pre-Party on Thursday.

ALO :: 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM :: Moonshine Stage

ALO returned to the Moonshine Stage on Saturday to deliver another memorable performance. Their set ended with the captivating “Maria” off Roses & Clovers. Zach Gill, Steve Adams and Dave Brogan are members in the group, and they discussed with us the attention to detail that moe. and Umphrey’s McGee show throughout the year as musicians and hosts of the event.

“There are not really that many other festivals that are hosted by bands. It’s more like a promoter puts on the festival, and in this case it’s moe. and Umphrey’s thing. You see them walking around and checking in with people. They really step up to their position as host, and I think it makes it unique,” Adams said.

Common :: 4:15 PM - 5:15 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (aka Common) landed on the Sunshine Stage with a purpose. Common is award-winning, multi-talented artist, and this year he exploded onto the Summer Camp music scene with an excellent performance. Fans were awestruck by his ability to create content off the top of his head that felt genuinely spontaneous.

moe. by Brian Spady
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy :: 5:15 PM - 6:15 PM :: Moonshine Stage

The band’s lineup for Summer Camp included Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner from The Disco Biscuits and Conspirator, Chris Michetti from Conspirator, Ben Baruch, and Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken from Big Gigantic. Collectively, they dropped heavy bass beats mixed with electro-infused rock, house and hip-hop. Improvisation sits at the core of the group, and it appeared that they were mutually thriving off one another during their day set.

G. Love & Special Sauce :: 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM :: Sunshine Stage

G. Love performed in front of the sexiest crowd of the weekend. Currently the band is working on a new album that may be available early next year. The band invited guitar legend Warren Haynes up on stage with them for a song during their set.

moe. :: 9:00 PM - 1:00 AM :: Moonshine Stage

The Northeast jam band legends have hosted and performed at Summer Camp all 12 years. They opened their first set on Saturday night with “Wind it Up” off The Conch. During the band’s second set they brought out Warren Haynes to perform a rejuvenating version of “Happy Hour Hero” for a packed crowd at the Moonshine Stage.

Brain Damaged Eggmen by Brian Spady
Bluegrass Sessions hosted by Sexfist :: 11:00 PM - 12:30 AM :: Soulshine Tent

The Henhouse Prowlers (also known as Sexfist) hosted a midnight performance called the Bluegrass Sessions. Janis Wallin, bassist for the Family Groove Company, added her electric bass to the acoustic, hard-hitting string music.

Brain Damaged Eggmen :: 1:00 AM - 2:15 AM :: The Red Barn

Guests gathered around a campfire next to the Red Barn to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Brain Damaged Eggmen. The band featured musicians from The Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee, and performed a relaxing mixture of Pink Floyd and Beatles music. Adam, a fan from Fort Collins, Colorado introduced himself, talked about his experience winning one of the Umphrey’s McGee golden tickets. “I traveled 800-900 miles to be here this weekend, and I’m in paradise right now,” Adam said.

The Ragbirds / Hot Buttered Rum:: 1:00 AM - 4:00 AM :: The Campfire Stage

Late night music on the Campfire Stage created a massive crowd for The Ragbirds performance. The Ragbirds had a daytime workshop in the Soulshine Tent that focused on Eco-Touring with an acoustic performance. Hot Buttered Rum was the last band to perform on the Campfire Stage late Saturday evening from 2:30 AM - 4:00 AM. They brought a style of high-octane Americana music to the late night crowd. Hot Buttered Rum is another band that supports new biofuel technology.


Summer Camp 2012 by Brian Spady
Guests and campers were charmed by crystal clear skies on early Sunday morning. The festival provided morning yoga classes every day starting at 10:00 am in the Soulshine Tent.

Chicago Farmer :: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM :: Campfire Stage

Singer, songwriter Chicago Farmer presented and destroyed his latest dubstep project for the audience at the Campfire Stage. Cody D. is known for being a gifted, acoustic guitar player. He set up a computer, hit play, grabbed a bat and took out a few years of frustration out on his laptop. A few excited fans after the set mentioned that it felt like it was the death of dubstep. (See the video here).

Greensky Bluegrass :: 2:45 PM - 3:45 PM :: Moonshine Stage

The atmosphere was explosive during the Greensky Bluegrass day set. Their midday show was one of the hottest sets of the weekend. By the end, the crowd was amped and ready for the Yonder Mountain String Band’s following performance on the main stage.

Everyone Orchestra by Brian Spady
The Devil Makes Three :: 3:45 PM - 4:45 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Lucia Turino, bassist for The Devil Makes Three, talked with us after their gig on the Sunshine Stage about his view on the energy level at the festival during Day Four. “Usually we are kind of on the move, popping in, and popping out. I mean, definitely coming in on Day Four, the spirit is pretty strong, and that’s a cool thing. That’s kind of what our experience is all about,” Turino said.

Bass Workshop :: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM :: The Church

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday music fans were allowed access to The Church on the festival grounds to experience workshops and personal time with top notch artists. Janis Wallin described what it was like working with Rob Derhak, bassist for moe., during the bass workshop.

“When we would perform during the workshop it was all improvisational. I would start a groove, and Rob would jump in with his bass. We answered questions and talked with the audience. It was chill, and relaxing,” Wallin said.

Everyone Orchestra :: 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM :: The Red Barn

Throughout the weekend attendees had the option to pick up free access to the Red Barn for a performance by the Everyone Orchestra featuring Joel Cummins, Al Schnier, Jen Hartswick and conductor Matt Butler, along with a special cast of musicians. Guests were allowed access by participating in a fun and easy treasure hunt.

Jane's Addiction by Brian Spady
Lance Herbstrong :: 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM :: Vibe Tent

The Lance Herbstrong set in the Vibe Tent tied Primus for the best show of the weekend with an unforgettable performance. Joel Cummins, keyboardist for Umphrey’s McGee, and Roger Lewis from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band collaborated with the band. Before their set, we discussed their tough, raw sound in electronic music. Peter DiStefano, lead guitarist for Lance Herbstrong guided us through his experience at Summer Camp.

“This whole festival is about improvisation. I just walked through the Make a Difference area, and it’s a village. Everyone is selling burgers; they’re bartering, and making dream catchers to survive. It was like what the Grateful Dead was doing. They provided a life. It was a freedom government that was all barter. They all survived and got gas for each other to get to the next gig. So, it seems like we need to keep these kind of gigs going for their community, and that is all built on improvisation,” DiStefano said.

Shpongle presents the Masquerade :: 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Simon Posford and Raja Ram brought their distinct style of ethnic music from the United Kingdom to the Sunshine Stage on early Saturday evening. Shpongle’s music was danceable, but the set lacked depth without a full band. However, the stage setup was visually spectacular.

moe. by Brian Spady
Jane's Addiction :: 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM :: Sunshine Stage

Perry Farrell is an undisputed music icon. A large percentage of the projects that he has worked on have done well over several decades. Porno for Pyros, Lollapalooza, Satellite Party and Jane’s Addiction have all lasted the test of time. This was my first Jane’s Addiction show, and it was everything I expected and more.

Dave Navarro, guitarist for the group, showcased his incendiary skills in front of gigantic crowd. Their light show was absolutely stunning, and Farrell filled the stage with his larger than life persona. The crowd seemed to not fully appreciate and understand Farrell’s onstage personality though. There was several glow sticks thrown at the band during the performance, and it is important to note that it is never okay to throw objects at any performer. But the band was undeterred and continued to take the audience on a ride through some soaring music late into Sunday night.

moe. :: 11:30 PM - 1:00 AM :: Moonshine Stage

moe. opened their last set of the weekend with “Rebubula” and a jaw-dropping light show. Fans sung along with new and old songs during the performance. The band had performed earlier in the day on the Starshine Stage, and select members worked on side projects throughout the day. It was a mellow set overall, but considering the heat, it fit the mood of the crowd well. They debuted a new track for the diehard Summer Camp fans titled “ATL.”

Pretty Lights :: 3:00 AM - 4:15 AM :: The Red Barn

The Red Barn’s walls were excessively shaking from the bass heavy set from Pretty Lights on early Monday morning. A riveting crowd filled the area with florescent devices and a high level of energy for the festival’s final set of the weekend.

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[Published on: 6/1/12]

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