Summer Camp – what a fitting way to kick off the summer season in Illinois. The overall mood was rich with happiness and the anticipation of better things to come. From when you pulled up will when you packed up, the whole operation was run smoothly and without any big negative concerns.
From the beginning you pull into a big open field with a red barn facing the road. The process of getting your stuff from the car to your camp site was a bit of a hike but the extra effort made the festival ground a lot better. After clearing security, you make your way out to a camping spot and set up the tent in a sea of trees and,sometimes, crazily constructed tents. There was not a lot of room in the forest but there was plenty of places to hang a hammock or a sign of some sorts to mark your spot. What was clear and logical in the day light becomes invisible as night falls.Outside of a handful of tie-dyed colored flowers and signs for stages the forest was pitch black at night. Walking home from a late night show could sometimes be difficult to navigate. With that said, walking between the stages was a breeze and every show was spaced out efficiently so that you could travel without missing much. The lines for the bathrooms were short and the bathrooms were relatively clean. Summer Camp had a good mix of different types of foods and various vendors from which to purchase anything you needed.
One could feel the vibe once you entered the forest and this excitement carried throughout the venue. The concept of going green was in full force around the grounds and you could tell the difference in the cleanliness of the campsites and stages. Summer Camp was big enough to have the fun activities like a brass band being pulled around the grounds on the back of a tractor and late night shows yet small enough to be able to get to the front of any crowd without a fight. For cramming a bunch of people into a small area and mixing booze and intense sunshine – there were no fights that I saw and everyone was in a good mood and very eager to wish you well or strike up a conversation.
The music itself was beautiful with Moe., Umphrey’s Mcgee, and Trey Anastasio Band bringing the Woodstock vibe to the festival. With long, heart filled jams, crisp wailing guitar solos, and funky bass lines, the crowd swayed back and forth with not a care in the world. Summer Camp was not all melodies and choruses, but a sophisticated weaving of the fastest growing music segment as well - Electronic Dance Music. The Vibe Tent played EDM well into the morning and Sunday was filled with top DJ talents such as Bassnectar, Wolfgang Gartner, and Gramatik. The only complaint that could be made was that the music sounded like it was coming from the back of a truck when you were not in front of the speakers. The light displays were basic but served the purpose and every light show ran without a hitch. The variety of music in the lineups made it very easy to experience something new in between headliners.
If you are looking to try your first festival or want to try out something new I would encourage you to take a look into Summer Camp. The music, food, scenery, people, and experience was top notch. Every year Summer Camp attracts top talent and continues to deliver a better experience for its guest. To sum up Summer Camp in one word – bodacious.