In the past when I have been 3 days deep into a festival, seeing the Sunday day pass folks show up is like looking at a crystal clear waterfall. They look so clean and refreshing. Their energy quenches my soul, making me believe that I have a reserve tank of energy to make it through the last day here in never never land. The juice is worth the squeeze when it comes down to it. These Sunday funday folks are here to revive the shows and bring balance and harmony to whatever mishaps and ales you have acquired along the way in the name of fun.
Being the blissful fool that I can be, I reported these findings to my 17-year-old son and his girlfriend when we loaded up the family and headed to Three Sisters Park for a Sunday day pass.
“Bring your best brightest most upbeat and positive attitude. Not that you don’t everyday (or at least try to) but you will look like heaven to this people. They will be so happy to see some fresh energy.” I told him.
But I was wrong. Sunday at Summer Camp Music Festival 2016 was filled with shiney happy people. They embraced us right into the happy bubble. With the not-so-extreme weather conditions and a double rainbow to boot, they didn’t seem to need our fresh energy at all. They already had the love necessary to conquer the 4th day. They were feeling like a warm spring day that spewed sunshine and kind vibes from the moment we walked right in the front gate with minimal search and friendly security guards to greet us.
Deep into the concert grounds we caught The Main Squeeze and their soulful funky act. They only get better every time I see them, which is not as often as we used to since they made the move to LA. It’s always nice to see a band loyal to their homeland and this was no exception. Perhaps LA has made their fashion sense flashier but they will always be home in the Midwest.
From there we moved onto the Sunshine Stage where Ani DiFranco was solo and Not Shy. Her set was compulsively adorable - so intimate for a huge outdoor festival setting. She jams so hard on her guitars that it seemed nearly every song her guitar tech brought her out a new instrument. In between the lag points she read her poetry and told stories. The reciprocation cycle is strong with Ani. The love she puts out is returned and the dance gets so thick…. Yes. I wept a little. Her set was just so beautiful.
It was all a bit over the kids heads so they were restless and ready to see the sights. I remember bringing my son a tee shirt from Summer Camp 2011. Now was his chance to finally go and experience it for himself. That may have been the highlight of my trip, watching their excitement. To have experienced the 1st ever Summer Camp and now bring my 17-year-old son to carry on the tradition is an amazing feeling.
We wandered on through The Motet, Yonder Mountain String Band, and over to George Clinton and P-Funk. Each act so rich with history and heritage, it was hard to tell the stories. It’s not proper manners to talk while the band is playing, so I didn’t. There is plenty of intrigue and explorations available for them to find out on their own. Fruition with their fresh bluegrass funk was a set we all enjoyed before heading off to the midwest’s cherished band, Old Shoe. The hosts of Shoe Fest never disappoint. This particular set showcased the bass thick and funky. The song Oneida County brought the sun down and as it set they bust into their version of “They Love Each Other” that melts my heart.
When it came time for Mudcrutch’s set at 9pm, the Sunshine stage was overflowing. It was so packed we could barely see. Big GrizMatik didn’t see any less of a crowd so that is where the kids stayed. Of course, us elders went to see moe. There is nothing like a moe. Show. It’s the band for me that makes Summer Camp the irresistible draw that it is. During the 1st year of Summer Camp, it was a single lonely stage and where I camped that year has now become the camping stage. It was that first year that I lay inside my tent as Rob and Al played an acoustic set just feet away from my peaceful slumber. I had no idea. For this reason, I always feel like I cannot miss moe. Not again at least!
As 1 am rolled around we gathered up the family to go. Under the midwest clear skies with big old stars hanging low, we all felt content. Summer Camp is an institution that remains 16 years strong. It’s not fancy but it improves every year. Their format is one that can sustain Memorial Day weekend rain or shine. The sheer volume of music is enough to feed and to tempt you for more. If only there was a way to see every act that was there in one day yet that is exactly what will keep us coming back. Gluttony at its finest. We felt full but wanted to keep consuming more. More moe. was totally worth it. Between the Baba O’Reilly with Allie Kral sit in and then the second set sit in with Kyle Hollingsworth, we had much to teach the youngins about the art of the sit in. They were impressed.
Bring your best brightest most upbeat and positive attitude. Summer Camp will increase it and return you back to the real world with just enough juice to share it amongst the real world. Summer Camp can bring you the midwest’s worst weather but every 16 years or so, it brings you a perfect rainbow and a reason to remember the friends you made on Memorial Day weekend. Sweet Release...