Damp Scamp 2013
Pulling into the gates at Three Sisters Park early Thursday morning, a translucent layer of fog mixed with overcast skies marked the territory known as Summer Camp Music Festival. 2013 marked the 13th year for this rapidly growing festival, and the stage was set to do it bigger and better than ever. The unavoidable lines and cold drizzle made no difference, the energy was high for what was to be yet another memorable experience at Scamp. A little bit of mud and rain never stopped us before and we made our way into the grounds and reserved our spots in the forest.
Once admitted, the clouds parted, and thousands of festival-goers began their annual trampling of Three Sisters Park. The first set we caught for the weekend was electronic trio, Cosby Sweater. Their fusion of EDM and jazz created a unique pleasing sound that made for an energetic and impressive start to the weekend. Joel Cummins (of Umphrey’s McGee) came out and joined them on keys for the second half of their set, adding some improv and jam to the already solid performance. They played a number of original songs, a couple awesome remixes, and ended their set with a 15-minute rendition of “Hey Girl Hey.”
From there we made it over to the Starshine Stage for the blue-grassy sounds of local folk band Cornmeal. The band played their hearts out to the wet fans, it was an emotional set as band member Allie Krall recently announced she will be leaving the band after over ten years together.
By this point in the night scampers were bundled up in their warmest gear, temperatures were dropping and the moon was glowing. On at 9:45 was Digital Tape Machine, playing to a full crowd at Starshine they came out raging. Playing everything from deep house, to some Umph jams back into some drum and bass you never what you’re going to get from a DTM set, just make sure you bring your dancing shoes.
From Starshine to the Red Barn for an 11:00 o’clock throw down with electronic producer Minnesota. His melodic bass tunes brought energy up and the hot barn kept us dry. We closed out the night with some funky jams in the vibe tent with Ultraviolet Hippopotamus followed by the first of many throw downs by Livetronica trio, Future Rock.
Friday morning brought in a shining sun and some significantly more tolerable weather. We set up our booth bright and early with friends and official Summer Camp sponsors, Wear The Party.
Our booth was conveniently stationed right next to the Starshine stage and so we started off our day with The Pimps of Joytime. This Brooklyn based group adorned us with their funky tunes and dancey styles. Their energy was fantastic, it was a party onstage that carried over into the crowd; we got the funk down.
From there it was a sprint to Moonshine to catch the end of Moe.’s first set of the weekend. This was the biggest crowd yet, and the hometown heroes did not disappoint. Playing fan favorites “Happy Hour Hero” and a special version of plane crash featuring Allie Kral.
At 5 o’clock we made it over to the Campfire for our Mississippi homies Zoogma. This 4-piece band is known for their heavy electronic style beats, and live improv feel. They played several new songs off their upcoming album as well as some classic fan favorites including an “M10” to close it out. This band continuously expands their sound and has played their way into our hearts over the past year always a pleasure to ray john with our Oxford, Mississippi fam.
After Zoogma came the first real scheduling conflict for the weekend, Yonder Mountain String Band and Papadosio were slated from 6 to 7. When faced with decisions like that we were forced to choose our flavor of rage aptly and due to the convenience of stage location we were forced to miss the YMSB set.
Papadosio is near the top of the list of Jamtronica bands to see, with their T.E.T.I.O.S. album release this year followed by a full tour this group continuously pushes the boundaries of music, and progresses the ever-expanding genre that is Jamtronica. They came out to an eclectic crowd and played their hearts out. Highlights of the set were “Method of Control” and “Unparalyzer.” A Dosio festy set always seems like just a taste of the full experience that Papadosio can bring to the stage, but it’s always a joy to be graced by their presence.
On Friday night Umphrey‘s provided fans with two set of music. During their first set UM played many fan favorites including “All in Time”, “Conduit”, and then closed the set with the UM classic “Nothing too Fancy”. Umphrey’s made it clear that they would deliver on their 10th annual Summer Camp Music Festival, leaving fans hungry for more.
Umphrey‘s second set started off with the funky slapping bass line of “Puppet String”; which had the crowd instantly grooving with the music. Umphrey’s kept the energy up and then finished the “All in Time” from their previous set earlier in the night, which had fans grinning from ear to ear. The surprises and special treats from UM are one of the great things that keeps fans coming back to Summer Camp year after year, and this year they surely did not disappoint. Umphrey’s brought out Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic; whose smooth saxophone complemented UM during “Bright Lights, Big City”, it sounded almost magical. The surprises from UM were far from over and they came out and encored with a cover of Moe. song “Rebubula” to the pleasant surprise of many fans. Later that evening Moe. also performed a version of the UM classic “In the Kitchen”.
As a cold drizzle started to come in we made our way into the dry Vibe Tent for the sensual sounds of Cherub. This duo has taken the scene by storm with their unique funky pop style and sound. With their latest album release of “100 Bottles” this group has been on the rise ever since they got on the radar. Their onstage presence is undeniable and the energy in the tent was at an all time high for the weekend. Closing it out with “Heartbraker” they demonstrated how to properly use a voice box and vocoder together to their full potential and with an impromptu light rig setup thanks to the homie Ian Davis this set was definitely a gem in a wild weekend.
Umphrey’s first set break brought scheduling conflict number two of the day with Paper Diamond and EOTO playing in the 8:15 slot. Paper Diamond is the alter-ego of Alex Botwin, his DJ presence is undeniable and his set was poppin off. Playing all the new bangers off his newest EP “Paragon” his set was definitely “All Goose.”
EOTO took to Moonshine with their trademarked 3D Lotus projection stage; anytime you’re raging with these guys you know it’s about to get weird. Taking bass music and psychedelia to the next level, they melted faces and minds with their laser projections and improvised wobbles.
STS9 took the moonshine stage on Friday night to easily one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Though the weather was cold the crowd was hot! “Kabuki” opened the set and was the perfect beginning for the dance party that ensued. The horns came out for “March” and that really got things going! The incorporation of horns into their set has really elevated Tribe’s performances as of late. The way they are blending the newer, more electronic driven songs with live horned instruments is giving said songs an energy they didn’t really have before. As dope as the horns are with newer songs the highlight of the set came in the form of “2001”. Known more primarily as a Phish song (some would say), Tribe and The Liquid Horns had Summer Camp getting the funk down with some seriously crisp play and a wicked saxophone solo. Another interesting moment came immediately after when the beginning of “Kabuki” began to play and then stopped about 45 seconds later right before the beginning of the re-worked “ABCees”. What was interesting about it was that it wasn’t abruptly stopped like the band had mistake but instead faded out like it was meant to happen. Either way, it was an odd occurrence to follow up an epic jam. While a lot of people might look at the set list and not be impressed, you just had to be there to know how good (and weird) it really was.
Big Gigantic closed out the night at the main Sunshine stage to a packed crowd. Watching Dominic Lalli (Saxophone) and Jeremy Salken’s (Drums) unfathomed rise to stardom has been truly inspiring, and Scamp was one of the first places that Big G really became known as a staple on this scene. Their set was a heavy electronic one playing tons of hits of there newest album release “Nocturnal.” They brought the party to its peak and raged out the night in style. Dom always knows how to get the crowd energy up and this night was no different than any other, Big G killed it.
Saturday morning was chilly and rainy; scampers were decked out in their warmest clothes and driest raingear. As the weather worsened the music only improved.
Conspirator took the Moonshine Stage at 2:00 PM, they came out to a light drizzle which seemed to clear as the set developed. They played a couple new songs off “Unleashed” their most recent EP release, a couple old favorites such as “Feed The Wolf” and some brand new tracks that had never been heard before. Conspirator is essentially a super band, the combination of Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein, (of the Disco Biscuits) KJ Sawka, (Pendulum) and Chris Michetti (RAQ) makes for a combination of organic jam, raging electronic, and heavy metal that is incomparable to anything else in the respective genre. Their ability to take a bass drop into a metal riff and then bring it back into a dancey groove is what truly separates them from the pack. The progression of their sets over the past few summers has been awesome, and this one ranked among the best we’ve seen yet.
From there it was off to the VIP Lounge for a special Lettuce jam. It featured all the members of the notorious funk band, as well as Borahm Lee (of Break Science) on the keys. This was truly a display of musical talent, the organic sounds of Lettuce played out, and some funky lounge music was exactly we needed during that rainy afternoon.
Chicago producer Manic Focus took the stage in the Vibe Tent at 4 and played his glitch tunes to a wet crowd. From there it was back to Starshine for a unique Break Science performance featuring Chali 2NA (of Jurassic 5). With Deitch on the drums and Lee on the keys they held down the beats as Chali spit the hot fire. Break Science already has deep roots in hip-hop, and the addition of Chali 2NA’s familiar voice made for a really special set.
Thievery Corporation brought their eastern sound to Chillicothe on Saturday and turned out a very awesome set. While Rob Garza and Eric Hilton may be the faces of Thievery, the full band that accompanies them is what really makes their performances shine and Summer Camp was no different. Songs like “Amerimacka”, “Culture of Fear” and “Vampires” kept the crowd moving, grooving, jiving and any other synonyms you can think of. Thievery Corporation on your iPod is cool but Thievery Corporation live with a full band is something worth seeing, no festival required.
Rising stars Griz and Gramatik closed out the Starshine stage. Griz, a talented producer and saxophonist demonstrates his skills onstage to create a set of everything from heavy drops, to down-tempo breaks, to jazz solos. Gramatik takes a similar approach with his smooth funky organic sounds, add guitarist Eric Mendleson onstage right next to him jamming away, and his set has a more live feel than ever before. Both played to full crowds and set the bar high for what’s to come in the future for these young stars. Griz came out and joined Gramatik towards the end of his set to perform some tracks from their collaboration project, Grizmatik. Both of these guys threw down two of the rowdiest sets all weekend; big ups to these young producers who have set the standard in what we like to call progressive electronic music.
As UM came out for their first set Saturday the rain started to come down, despite a little bit of liquid sunshine, Umphrey’s proceeded to put on a fantastic show. With appearances by Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret Horn during “Booth Love”, “I Got Love”, “Andy’s Last Beer”, “Utopian Fir” and then during a cover of Beck song, “Debra”. Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret then again joined UM for their encore “Bridgeless”, by far one of the best versions of “Bridgeless” I have even seen.
Late Saturday night we were given the opportunity to vend the Red Barn and were graced with some of the highlight performances of the weekend. STS9 came out with a short but sweet set, opening with “EHM” it was a party from the second they started. Other highpoints were a very interesting “Arigato”, “Really Wut” featuring Dominic Lalli, and an “Inspire Strikes Back: to close things out.
As Tribe left the stage anticipation rose to an all-time high, Big Grizmatik was set to perform their debut set and close the night out in the Red Barn. When talking electronic music today Big Gigantic, Griz, and Gramatik are always in the discussion, to see them all on the same stage together is a whole different story. Think live funk jazz, with a large helping of bass and basically you get the love child that is Big Grizmatik. Dance music at its finest, combining all elements from each artist they played some brand new collaboration tracks as well as some classic oldies. Adam Deitch (Break Science) even came out and subbed in for Jeremy Salken for a song, it seemed like more of a sit in electronic jam sesh than a rehearsed performance. These guys have all done their part to bridge the gap between live and electronic music and it was truly a pleasure to them all onstage vibing together.
By Sunday the grounds had turned into more of a thick gravy, and getting around was an adventure in itself. Another cold and rainy day would be upon the Scampers. it seemed as if people hadn’t been enjoying as much as they had been surviving, nevertheless we had no choice but to endure one more day of mud and music.
Although the layout was slippery the lineup was stacked. Sunday started strong with local Chicago homies The Coop throwing down some afternoon disco jamtronica, from there it was to Umphrey’s final set of the festival.
Umphrey’s came out for one final daytime set. UM invited blues legends Taj Mahal and Luther Dickinson to join them in covering Taj Mahal song “She Caught the Katy”. “She Caught the Katy’s” blues sound displays Umphrey’s ability to play a wide range of musical genres. Throughout the entire weekend Umphrey’s McGee showed fans new and old why they truly are some of the “best in the business”. We cant wait to see Umphrey’s Mcgee at Summer Camp Music Festival for many years to come.
At 3:30 we made it over to the Campfire stage for some Van Ghost. This 5-piece band featuring Michael Harrison Berg and Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) has a soulful sound and a folky feel. The addition of the beautiful vocals and smooth brass section bring it all together making Van Ghost some easy Sunday afternoon listening.
From this point on the weather went from mild to bad and from bad it only got worse. Over to Moonshine for funk-band Lettuce and then back to the Starshine stage to rage some Future Rock tunes. Memorial day weekend is always a throw up as far as the weather goes, but this was just getting ridiculous.
Zeds Dead played a high energy set in a thunderstorm. The lightning lit sky made for a killer light show with the already awesome light rig provided at the Moonshine stage. They played some new favorites from their Spring Mix and from their new Jumbalya Mix. The drops were epic as always and the bass was definitely turned all the way up. The crowd, which was a couple thousand, enjoyed the entire set even though it was pouring rain. They ended it with a nasty remix of “Higher Ground”, some old favorites from the Adrenaline EP, and an “Undah Yah Skirt”. Dubstep in a thunderstorm is definitely something to experience.
Headliner Trey Anastasio Band was set to come on at 8 PM. Anxiously waiting in the rain we finally saw the man himself emerge with a full band at his side. Opening with Phish tune “First Tube” for a second it seemed like Trey was going steer us out of the storm. After playing a full first set, the band came out for set two for only a couple minutes before announcing the weather had become too dangerous to continue. The storm worsened and we retreated to our campgrounds, music was done and it seemed Summer Camp had been cut short.
Although the weather was severe, early Monday morning there was still a feeling of togetherness and a newfound sense of accomplishment that one can only feel after leaving Three Sisters Park. Old friends reunited, new friends acquainted this festival remains as one of the top in the Country, and will forever hold a place in our hearts. The lineup was better than ever, and the performances were intimate and moving as always. The muck and the mud grew on us and although a shower was the first thing on our minds leaving the grounds, we can be sure that next year we will be back to Chillicothe to Ray John 2014!
Photography Courtesy of © Stone Studios