SUMMER SET 2013
By: John Neave & Aaron Giles
Summer Set Music Festival back for its second annual year looked to make its mark with a stacked lineup of music and a full weekend of fun. As the Early Birds arrived late Thursday into early Friday, you could sense the excitement in the air, and by midday Friday, the campgrounds were full and everyone was ready to get down. Mother Nature blessed us campers with beautiful weather, aside from one little storm early Sunday morning. In typical midwest fashion, the days were warm and the nights were chilly, which was the perfect way to warm up and cool down the festival goers. At 1:30 Friday afternoon, the festivities began.
SSMF had a total of three stages. The Main stage, located at the bottom of a hill and in the middle of vendor row and all of the stands; The Saloon stage, a small bar stage that showcased short 30 minute sets (shortening the already rushed festy set) from groups such as Zoogma and Orchard Lounge; Lastly The Grove stage, a large rave tent conveniently located 15-20 minutes away from all the other festival grounds. Complete with only one entrance, packed security lines, and thick dust clouds, this stage definitely needed some adjustments as far as location, cleanliness, and security.
Before reviewing specific sets let it be known that there were absolutely no art installations on the venue. Throughout the day the main stage seemed severely under crowded with very under sized crowds for the likes of Papadosio, Conspirator and others. The lineup for this event was stacked and there was no denying that, unfortunately (to us) it seemed SSMF was nothing but a spot for promoters to reap the land for all its worth and come out with profit. Festivals (in particular camp out festivals) should bring a community and culture that sets a tone and vibe for the weekend. The scheduling seemed unorganized, some stages under packed some way over packed. It seemed that the only vibes at the fest were made by the attendees themselves; That being said the Minds Matter, Up North, and Ray John crew banned together to form a festy-fam that couldn’t fail.
Starting the weekend off for us was Conspirator at Main Stage. They came out to a thin crowd of cheers, beers, and Bisco fans. The energy was there as the band played out songs from their new “Unleashed” Ep and even closed it out with a cover of Pink Floyds “Another Brick in the Wall”. Conspirator never fails to wow a crowd and demonstrate their depth and range of talent and skill, this was definitely a highlight set of the weekend.
Packing the Grove Stage,was Chicago’s own Manic Focus. John McCarten fueled the crowd with his energy. Dropping bombs like ‘Money Ain’t A ThanG’ and his remix of Disclosure’s ‘Latch’, the setting was set for the rest of the weekend. One minor issue with the Grove Stage was it’s sound system, which happened to die three times alone on Friday. Nonetheless, it was great to see Manic Focus captain the stage and welcome us to Summer Set 2013.
We then decided to check out the Main Stage, for one of the most interesting sets of the entire weekend from Beats Antique. It’s always a pleasure to see Zoe Jakes on stage, syncing her exotic dance moves with the entrancing vibes of David Satori and Tommy Cappel’s music. I always love hearing ‘Alto’ live, and the main stage was the perfect atmosphere for this on Friday afternoon. After getting down to Beats Antique, we decided to head back to the Grove Stage and catch Figure.
Guaranteed at a Figure show is the BEST drumstep in the music industry, and Josh Gard exceeded my expectations once again with one of the most intense sets of the whole weekend.
Following Figure was both Adventure Club and Tommy Trash, who played equally as great of sets as the sun fell behind the trees, packing the Grove Stage to the max. This, set the tone for GRiZ who went shortly after. If you were lucky enough to get up front for his set, you could tell those who were around you waited all day just to see Grant take the stage.
Following what seemed like some technical difficulties, the sound of ‘Gettin’ Live’ filled the tent and the crowd was lifted into outer space. Even though GRiZ brought the house down, the tent seemed to dwindle as the set progressed. That’s because at 10:30, there wasn’t a better place to be than the Main Stage for Big Gigantic; not to mention the 20 minute walk to get to the only other stage onsite.
I made the mistake of waiting too long and missed at least 15 minutes of the set waiting at the gates of the Main Stage. Highlights of the set were ‘Rise and Shine’, ‘Sky High’, and their remixes of ‘I Need a Dollar’ as well as the aforementioned Adventure Club’s ‘Do I See Color?’. There wasn’t a single face that left the stage without a ear-to-ear smile that night.
Starting off day two was Jamtronica phenoms, Papadosio. Gracing us with their profound presence just before heading off to their very own Rootwire Festival in Ohio, it was a day set to remember. Another underwhelming sized crowd made their way towards the stage for a truly beautiful set. The band played jams off their new album T.E.T.I.O.S. and engulfed the crowd in love and light throughout. They closed it out with “Method of Control” followed by “Cue” and left us wanting more and wondering why there weren’t more people there enjoying it. This band has a way of putting a message into the music and it’s always a pleasure to catch them.
Kill Paris and Boombox both respectively crushed the Grove Stage, playing awesome back to back sets that worked strangely well with one another. Kill Paris played almost all of his new album ‘To a New Earth’ as well as his older hits like ‘Keep Your Secrets in Midnight City’ while Boombox played their disco funk to a packed house.
One of the most exciting sets on Saturday was Zomboy. Lighting the Grove Stage on fire with his furious dubstep and electro bangers, this set brought the whole crowd to a dripping sweat. Playing his smash hits like ‘Nuclear (Hands Up)’ and ‘Mind Control’, Zomboy made sure not a single human left without being consumed by his unearthly bass.
From there we took to mainstage for the remainder of the night. Passion Pit came out to one of the larger crowds of the weekend and played their unmistakable dreamy indie pop. Dropping classics like “Sleepyhead” and “Take a Walk” it was quite the cheery evening set.
Girl Talk came out at 10:30 to what appeared to be possibly the largest crowd all weekend. He brought the party from the stage to the crowd, dropping his infamous mash-ups including a Michael Jackson Daft Punk mix that was definitely a highlight for the weekend.
Midnight came and the main festival grounds closed letting loose thousands of ragers into the warm summer night. We made our way into the EOTO after party at the Groove stage, why we had to pay extra for these late nights was truly a conundrum. I’ve never been to a camp out festival that ended so early and only had a late night to go to. Nevertheless EOTO did not disappoint taking us on a long psychedllic journey through percussion rhythms and heavy bass drops. It was a great way to close out night two, if you were willing to pay for it.
Finally came Sunday, the day most folks were anticipating. Kicking it off was relatively new Jamtronica group Chachuba. They layed down some funky riffs and tantalizing synths. Look out for this band in years to come, I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Chachuba.
If you didn’t have any energy left early on, one walk to the Grove Stage would have taken care of that, starting with the World Class Art Thieves. This duo from Minnesota came into Summer Set ready to make their names known, and without a doubt, threw down one of the best sets of the entire weekend. Funky, energetic, and exciting, WorldCAT set the tone for the rest of the day.
Next on the Grove Stage was Wick-It The Instigator. Bringing with him one of the downright coolest sets, mixing all different kinds of music together with electric beats, Wick-It capitalized on the hot crowd that was left for him. Everything from LL Cool J to Johnny Cash – ask anyone who witnessed it – this set might have stolen the show. Following Wick-It was the one and only Minnesota, who put on a show as well, though most were just biding their time until the magic that is Sound Tribe.
At 3:30 some of us made it over to the small Saloon Stage for an afternoon set with Zoogma. Set to release their new album “Anthems 4 Androids” in the following days to come they came out with a bunch of new material. Playing classics such as “M10” and “Mirage” they peaked the energy in the small Saloon for the entire 30 minutes they were given. The question remains as to why this stage was booked with such awesome music but was so small and only hosted 30 minute sets. It was still great to rage with our Mississippi homies and send them off proper; anyone that was wondering “WTF is Zoogma” now knew exactly what it was.
When the clock struck 8:30, it was finally time. The packed main stage was lifted into the 9th Sector as STS9 took over. They came out and opened with a dreamy “Be Nice” that commenced the dance party that would last throughout the remainder of their set. Highlights of the set were an awesome “Vibyl” right into a “Kabuki” which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Saxton’s light rig illuminated the night with lasers and LED’s and Tribe closed out with festival with style. Ending with a “Scheme” they left the stage abruptly, fans lingered and cheered hoping for an encore to end SSMF but were sorely disappointed as the band never returned to the stage. The set was awesome, but we left with a feeling of frustration that the fest had no real closure to it.
SSMF was a weekend filled with fun, music, laughter, and beautiful weather. The lineup was great and the performances were spot on. Unfortunately (to us) it seemed promoters just threw this event together to make some extra money, and there appeared to be a lack of message from the weekend, besides go rage at our show and spend your money with us. That being said, the fans made the fest and if it wasn’t for our friends and crew the weekend would have turned out much different. Thanks to all the artists who came out and performed and to React for putting it on, not sure if we’ll be back next year but glad we could grace the festy grounds for 2013.