Heading out to that first festival of the season can be one of the most exciting experiences ever, the anxiety to get there, to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, all bundled into one big ball of energy. One is sure to catch little sleep the night before, a lesson we learned a long time ago, lending us to typically leave in the cover of darkness. I like to describe it as heading out into the abyss from your sanctuary, and when the sun rises you are in a whole new world, where rules in the traditional sense don’t matter, people’s filters are dropped and things get weird.
We left for Summer Camp 2013 at 5:30am on Thursday morning. The night before we gathered to finish packing, organize and get our heads in a comfortable space for this adventure. A big topic for us this weekend was the definition of family, what it means to different people, how it can affect ones livelihood and such, and there was many a conversation to be had with many a people. We met up with a group of our friends to caravan out of Indy, another pod of us set to leave 3 hours later, arriving in Chillicothe, IL around 10am, and man was it chilly. After getting our wrist bands, throwing everything on our backs and hopping into a friends car with an RV pass, we avoided a 3 hour wait in line and was able to get set up fairly quickly and easily. We had 2 campsites, our summer home in the RV field, and our fall home on the edge of the tree line; Life was good.
As we got settled it was pretty clear that it was going to be a cold and wet weekend, and no one had brought enough clothes or gear. Thursday night definitely brought the heat, we always say we will go easy on Thursday, but Thursday always ends up being the night we party the hardest. We got to see our local boys Cosby Sweater get down with Joel Cummins of Umphreys McGee, a pinnacle moment in their career for sure. There was also several Cornmeal sets which were rockin’, a crazy set by a band called Quixtoic, which has girls doing silk routines inside the red barn, all culminating to UV Hippo set followed by Future Rock and Dopapod late night. Then came the attempt at sleep, which occurred for about 2 hours, before I had to relocate next to a fire, sleep on the ground to stay warm, and eventually to taking a nap on the floor of the church.
Friday afternoon set off with a bang, after some coffee and food it was time to rock and roll, the sun was out and we were all feeling groovy. Moe. opened things up with “Captain America”, fitting for a friend of ours whose birthday would be celebrated on Sunday who calls himself America Mash. Following was my first ever Medeski, Martin and Wood set, which was beautiful to say the least. I had listened to them for awhile but never seen them live and it was awesome. The rest of the day was filled with a lot of Umphreys, the chance to meet up with some of my best of friends that I only get to see once a year, and helping a friend get her car out of the police impound after getting pulled over 12 miles outside of the festival. It was eventful to say the least.
As we awoke Saturday, there was rain coming down. And for the better part of the next 48 hours it did not stop. But don’t think for a second this hindered our spirits. Yes we may have bitched, and it was wet and cold, but damn was it fun; an experience like none other. Getting to see, and remember seeing, Thievery Corporation was so much fun for all of us, and as we stomped back and forth from stage to stage with trash bags wrapped around our feet, trash bags over our heads, sharing clothes to keep warm, and whiskey to keep even warmer. You couldn’t take away our smiles even if you tried. The highlight was the two back-to-back Moe. sets that we got to experience, very close to the stage, with a great group of people. It was the dream team, and man was it a good time. They covered In The Kitchen, and had Allie Krall sit in during Plane Crash. The rest of the night is mostly a blur.
As we awoke to Sunday, the final day of the festival, we had two birthdays to celebrate. Steve and Desi were in great form as we started off with a set of Umphrey’s, and killed 24 beers. After that I got to spend some much needed time with a best friend of mine from Colorado as we caught the Lettuce set, all in preparation for what everybody was waiting for, Trey Anastasio Band. As Trey started, the rain picked up and did not let off, in fact it only got worse. We got to see the first full set but the second one was cut short due to the rain. We spent a good amount of time in the vibe tent until the generators cut out and we were forced to return to our tents or cars. As we sat there in the darkness, the rain coming down we saw tour buses high tailing it out of the festival, but through the darkness there came a howl from the woods, heard from almost half a mile away, a signal that everybody was okay and that the party would go on even without the music.
Summer Camp 2013 was definitely a festival that will never be forgotten, it was one for the record books. The rain, the music, the people, just the experience in and of itself was so wonderful and trying all at the same time. I can’t wait to see what comes out of next years Summer Camp, until then we rage on. Positive vibes in forward directions as I say.
Words by Chris Lucas
To view additional images from the festival, click here