The 15th annual Summer Camp is off to a great start amid beautiful albeit chilly weather in Central Illinois. Thousands arrived late Wednesday night and throughout the day on Thursday for the unofficial start to summer music festival season throughout the country.
Arrival to Chillicothe, just north of Peoria, IL, took 16 hours from Albany, and while the drive may seem daunting, it wasn’t that tough of a trip. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, if you wanted to go to a music festival or travel to see a band, you had to drive out of your comfort zone for the experience. What has become common place, seeing festivals within an hour or two of where you live, used to be far from reality. This may sound like a ‘back in my day’ mantra, but making this drive brings back the allure of the destination driving the journey, something that has become less frequent with the rise of music festivals and cost of travel.
The only issue with arrival at a festival such as Summer Camp is that once you arrive, you still have to get your gear searched and set up camp, adding to any exhaustion and surfeit crankiness. The line to get into Summer Camp involves a thorough search for alcohol, among other contraband items; while the check-in was expanded, we stood in line for six hours before our gear was finally given the thumbs up. There wasn’t much music we missed as a
result but the exhaustion took a toll, especially without shade from the bright sunny day. Chicago Funk Mafia performed on a stage near the check-in area to entertain the thousands in line.
Once inside and setup between the Sunshine Stage, Starshine Stage, Vibe Tent and Camping Stage. A money location. We caught Capital District rockers Wild Adriatic on the Starshine Stage who had the attention of the crowd with “Strange Persuasions” and a cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”. Family Groove Company, one of Chicago’s finest jam acts for over a decade, opened their set with an extended instrumental jam on “Thriller” bringing up the Third Coast Horns for much of the set. If you missed them on Thursday, see them Saturday on Starshine Stage at Noon for a perfect wake up to the day.
Floodwood performed a Grateful Dead set, including “Cumberland Blues,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Casey Jones,” and others. Vinny Amico and Al Schnier mixed things up and swapped roles with Al on drums and Vinny on vocals. I had to miss some of the set in order to catch yet another New York State act, Aqueous, on the Camping Stage. The handful of fans I talked to seemed to enjoy a band they were seeing for the first time, and were treated to a set of “Underlyer, Complex Pt. 1, Fame > Origami > Don’t Do It”.
Back at the Starshine Stage, Future Rock, one of the best livetronica trios you’ll ever see, closed out the Starshine Stage for the night, pounding out incredible dance music with no chill. Late night had options for The Red Barn: Dopapod, Turbo Suit & Friends, and Manic Science. I rested up and got ready for DJ no DJ, a Daft Punk cover band made up of members of This Must be the Band, among others. You won’t see Daft Punk touring these days, and this might be the next best thing to a local band covering “Get Lucky”. Name a Daft Punk hit and they have it covered and covered WELL. The Soulshine Tent was the place to be latenight for one of the true treats of Summer Camp.