Each year, Summer Camp Music Festival successfully grows and adapts. Over Memorial Day weekend, I got to experience the festival in its 13th year and, as many can attest, it was quite the adventure...
Foreboding raindrops sprinkled the grounds as many people began showing up on Thursday morning, but the sun managed to peek through the clouds for most of the day. People flooded in steadily for hours, lugging with them their homes for the weekend. In between assembling campsites and meeting up with friends, some great shows were taking place including Cosby Sweater, Roster McCabe, Digital Tape Machine, and Dopapod to name a few.
As evening hit, I headed to the Red Barn just in time for some dirty old school hip-hop and pounding bass courtesy of Minnesota. Quixotic provided an otherworldly and intimate show with sexy downtempo music and an aerial artist performing directly over our heads. Future Rock finished off the first night wonderfully with a playful dance party.
Friday was filled with sunshine and amazing shows. The Floozies, The Wailers, Zoogma, Papadosio, Umphrey’s McGee, EOTO, and Paper Diamond rounded out the day and early evening. A stop by another rowdy Minnesota set and then it was off to STS9 at the main stage. Playing from 10:30-midnight, they stole the show and effectively got the entire hillside grooving with their funky and flirtatious performance. Without time to acknowledge how tired our legs were, the entire audience flooded from the main stage up the hill to dance more with Big Gigantic. Another impressive performance, with a bouncy mix of old and new tracks and legit light setup. There were a few late night options including Prophet Massive (Jason Hann of EOTO), Team Bayside High, and Alvin Risk.
As we rested that evening (or morning) the beautiful weather faded away and we awoke to cold, rainy air which tapered on and off throughout the day. Many of us were up for braving the damp chill for Conspirator, Diplo, Break Science with Chali 2na, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Thievery Corporation, GRiZ, and Gramatik. Determined to see STS9 and Big Gigantic + GRiZ + Gramatik (deemed Big Grizmatik), I soldiered through the evening in the Red Barn, which had incidentally transformed itself into a steam room. STS9 brought up Dom Lalli of Big Gigantic who always meshes well with their sound. They put on a stellar set, impressing many with sultry “Vapors” and dirty Bloody Beatroots remix “Awesome.”
The standout Saturday show in my eyes was Big Grizmatik. It seemed like they had been playing together for years, with each person’s contribution to the tracks naturally flowing and coalescing. With the saxophone, drums, and Gramatik’s guitar player Eric Mendelson adding sexy instrumental quality to GRiZ and Gramatik’s dare-you-not-to-dance beats, they had the entire Red Barn sweating and pulsating. They played a great mix each artist’s songs, every one feeling like a major upgrade with all the added talent and variation.
Alas, as Saturday faded into Sunday, so the ground faded into a mixture of mud, water, and the shoes which this lethal combination had mercilessly sucked off of people’s feet. A rain boot advocate, I waded through what was left of the grounds and was able to peruse some of the eclectic merchants. The Coop, Jimkata, Wick-It The Instigator, and Future Rock took the stage for those who wouldn't let the never-ending rain stop them. It cleared up a little for Big Boi, which was cut short after only a few songs when he injured his knee on stage having landed on it wrong after a jump. Liquid Stranger and Zeds Dead each got sets in before all outdoor music had to be officially shut down due to flash floods, electricity and safety concerns. Thievery Corporation and Zeds Dead’s late night shows in the Red Barn carried on as planned, and commenced until nearly 5:00 a.m. Thievery filled the stage and our ears with an eclectic and lively performance. Zeds Dead threw down heavy, driving dance beats, allowing everyone to get that last boogie in before it was time to go back to reality.
Summer Camp is one of those festivals that you can just go explore and find endless treasures. From a hidden stage tucked away in the woods by the pirate ship, to the Grassroots dome, to the infamous sound cart that cruises through the trails late at night, you are constantly stumbling into mini dance parties everywhere you go.
Summer Camp 2013 had new features such as carnival rides and special VIP-only performances. The organization of the festival itself was highly regarded - this ain’t their first rodeo. The music selection and diversity was impeccable. However, the dreadful weather made this a festie that was not for the faint of heart. It was worth it to me, as it always is to us at The Untz, because we get to go home with new friends, new memories, and new artists to listen to.