Summer Camp Music Festival Brings Top-Notch EDM & Jam Bands To Illinois [Recap]
From May 22nd to May 25th, Chillicothe, Illinois was completely consumed by Summer Camp Music Festival and its patrons. In a complete 180º flip from last year’s torrential downpours, this year we were only showered with loads of sunlight! In fact, one of the most common complaints I heard was about the excessive amount of dust in the air. A nice drizzle here or there would’ve done us some good, but overall, I couldn’t complain. My day-by-day recap of Summer Camp’s incredibly diverse lineup will bring you up to speed.
Thursday, May 22nd
When I arrived at the festival campgrounds during the early afternoon, I could already tell that finding a decent campsite would be no easy task. Luckily, following a feverish search period, I managed to nestle into my usual quarters deep into the woods. I was home. Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating just a bit. But after attending Summer Camp for the last few years, that’s what it’s begun to feel like every time I visit.
Now, Thursday is what the festival labels as their “PreParty” day. Well, if this is what they call a PreParty, then I can see why so many festival-goers make it a priority to be there for this day. It’s basically a full day of awesome acts. I started off my musical venture by catching the best Cosby Sweater featuring Joel Cummings (of Umphrey’s McGee) set I’ve seen to date. These guys had some really great energy on stage and got the crowd into it from the get-go. Following that up, I caught a pretty standard Future Rock set. I won’t go as far as to say it didn’t meet my expectations, but I’ve definitely enjoyed some of their other live performances more.
The Red Barn (which is where late night shows take place) was free on the first night - which pretty much made it the place to be. Manic Focus threw down what I personally felt like was one of his best sets ever (and I’ve seen A LOT of them), and Digital Tape Machine & EOTO wrapped things up nicely after that. All in all, Thursday was pretty darn wonderful.
Friday, May 23rd
I’m just going to come out and say it. Friday was not the day for watching lots of EDM. At least not until the clock hit 1:00am. So I had to improvise and figure out how to fill up all that open space on my schedule between 3:00pm-12:00am. This was going to be interesting. I could already sense that today was going to be one of those hit-or-miss kind of days. Friday held its fair share of pleasant surprises and head-scratchers.
I really took advantage of resting up at my campsite on this particular day. However, by the time 4:00pm rolled around, both my friends and myself were getting pretty antsy to see some live music. Where did I go first, you ask? Matisyahu. Wait, the same Matisyahu who did that song “King Without A Crown?” Yep, you got it! Being a pretty big hip-hop head, you’d think that I’d probably get a kick out of his performance. But truthfully, it didn’t do much for me.
Robotic Pirate Monkey & Bro Safari we’re the next two acts I saw - both of which were much more up my alley. I then crammed in a tiny Umphrey’s McGee sighting before heading to Beats Antique. Looking back on it, this was one of my favorite shows of the entire weekend. Beats Antique’s live performances are just as bizarre as their brand of music. I was able to catch a second, and more substantial, helping of Umphrey’s on my way to check out to Primus. Everybody had told me to check out Primus, but their sound didn’t really resonate with me. To close out the night on a more EDM-oriented note, Manic Focus and Wick-It The Instigator went back-to-back in the Vibe Tent with a pair of super dope sets.
Saturday, May 24th
Well, by this point my weekend was almost halfway over. I honestly couldn’t recall the last time I had felt more energized after already being at a music festival for basically a two full days. But for whatever reason, I was really ready to get in some serious dancing today! Plus, a couple of the acts I was looking forward to seeing the most were marked on the schedule for Saturday. This only got me all the more excited.
My Saturday began by hitting up The Floozies. Some people label them electronic, others see them as more of a jam band, but I just think they make fantastic music regardless of how you like to categorize it. I unfortunately missed my chance to catch HeRobust, but I redeemed myself by witnessing what many may have considered to be one of the best shows of the whole festival. Lotus. Yes, you heard me correctly. I might be an EDM addict at heart, but everything about Lotus was lovely. From the first note until the last, there wasn’t one moment during their entire set where my body wasn’t grooving. The vibes were infectious! And it was fairly obvious that everyone around me felt exactly the same way.
With KOAN Sound being the next act in my sights, I made it a priority to get back to the Sunshine Stage nice and early. What an amazing decision that turned out to be! The EDM duo from Bristol brought out a much larger crowd than what I had expected and proceeded to leave us all in complete awe. I got in another small sampling of Umphrey’s McGee before swinging on over to The M Machine. Their live set was killer. Although, I wish there had been a better audience for them to play to. After that, my night was relatively quiet, until Dirt Monkey took the decks. From approximately 3:00-4:00am, he laid down one of the most bass-heavy sets Summer Camp had to offer. Talk about a great way to finish up this spectacular day.
Sunday, May 25th
The last day of Scamp was upon us. How could it be? Where had the weekend gone? Do we really have to go home? These are all questions that likely entered each Scamper’s head at some point during Sunday. With some of the most highly anticipated acts on the docket for the day, the outlook was very promising. Can I just point out that the increase in Bassnectar apparel was truly astonishing! The EDM freaks had finally come out to play.
The Zac Brown Band played two full sets back-to-back and I could hear them shredding it up (with tons of classic rock covers) all the way back at my campsite. Plus, everybody who saw them perform said it was absolutely fantastic, so I’ll be sure to remember that moving forward. The first full act I watched all day was Wolfgang Gartner. Although house music has never been my go-to EDM genre, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this producer every time I’ve had the opportunity to see him. This night was no exception - he spun a really great selection of songs and set the stage very nicely for Bassnectar.
And just like that, it was here! The moment every basshead had been waiting for patiently. Now, being the nice guy he is, Lorin actually took to the stage 10 minutes earlier than expected and started busting out new tunes left and right. With his Noise Vs. Beauty album due out in less than a month, the crowd was eagerly waiting to be greeted with plenty of unreleased material. However, I felt like his set didn’t quite live up to the hype. It was good, just not great.
I then skipped Gramatik (which I don’t think I’ve ever done at a festival) because I needed to see Supervision live. His show at the Vibe Tent was pretty darn solid - but the heat really got turned up when Figure took to the stage. It felt like a sauna under that tent! After his hour and a half of wrecking the decks, Russ Liquid then closed out the festival with a totally different vibe. I couldn’t have selected a better electronic act to bring my amazing weekend to a close.