Wet weather doesn't dampen Summer Camp: Part 2

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Editor's note: The Peoria got a couple press passes and sent a freelance writer, Julian Watkins, and our own Stu Clubb (and his camera) to the Summer Camp Music Festival to review the event. Here is their second installment.

As the headline suggests, weather did not dampen the fun at Summer Camp, but Mother Nature sure gave it a good shot. Scampers woke on Saturday to a steady rainfall that sent many festival goers to local businesses, buying out all stock of rainboots, ponchos and other rain gear. In a Woodstock '69 type atmosphere, Three Sisters Park became a field of muddy pathways of ankle deep sludge, but this did not hinder the atmosphere of the festival.

There were many epic performances on Saturday, but the main story was that of Allie Kral.

Kral has been a longtime member of the band Cornmeal. That ended at Summer Camp Music Festival as Kral announced this would be her last show with Cornmeal. Saturday afternoon began with Kral joining up with Giraffe Dodgers mandolin player Ben Larson for a mellow, folky performance.

Later Kral joined Cornmeal for her last performance. This was one of the more memorable performances throughout the weekend. Cornmeal brought the same energy that it always does, but Kral played as if her fiddle was on fire. Jamming out to solos amidst the bluegrass sounds, Kral was in a different world. The band shared a heartfelt moment in which they thanked Kral for her years of playing with the band. Kral had to remove her sunglasses to wipe away the tears and gave a wave and a bow to the crowd before continuing to rock out her fiddle as if she would never play again, leaving everything on the stage. There was nothing more for us Scampers to desire from this performance.

Saturday also had a performance from the Henhouse Prowlers, another bluegrass band that always puts on a good show. The band recently had all of its gear stolen at a show in Oakland, Calif., but the show must go on. The Prowlers, again, gave an amazing performance at Summer Camp.

Saturday evening had us Scampers scrambling around to catch all the action. There were back-to-back performances on all different stages that none wanted to miss. It began with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe playing a funky, soulful performance. This was immediately followed by Thievery Corporation, which became a huge dance party with a wide variety of musical styles. Anywhere from heavy jams to reggae, Thievery Corporation had anything that anyone could have wanted from a Summer Camp performance. These guys are definitely a must-see for any music lover.

Then came what we referred to as the moe./Umphrey's sandwich. The two bands each played two alternating sets on different stages, which proved to be almost too much music to handle. Even though the rain begin to pour down as hard as it had all weekend, all four sets were packed with Scampers dancing and raging out to every second. The bands even decided to do covers of each other's songs. Moe. covered the popular Umphrey's McGee song "In the Kitchen," while Umphrey's played moe.'s Rebubula. Both of these performances left the crowd amazed at how well each of them perfected the other's musical stylings. As usual, neither band disappointed and both left Scampers completely satisfied. What a great way to end a Saturday night.

Mother Nature continued to show her ugly face on Sunday, but many hardcore Scampers were not deterred. By Sunday afternoon, Three Sisters Park was covered in nearly a foot of mud, making the trek between shows difficult, to say the least.

Again, the side stages hosted some remarkable performances, one of those coming from Champaign-Urbana natives Zmick. This four-piece has played at Summer Camp the past few years and is a combination of progressive rock and funk. Every year the group obtains a larger fan base and this year was no different.

Another funky performance came from the group Lettuce. The Moonshine stage area was a mud pit filled with Scampers dancing to the groovy melodies of the band. Lettuce brought many different musical elements from rock to reggae, including a horn section, which added an extra layer to the performance. The band has stated in the past that it wants to make people dance and it surely lived up to that with this performance.

Sunday evening at Summer Camp started with hip-hop artist Big Boi rocking the stage for a short, yet impressive performance. Playing favorites from his duo Outkast like "Rosa Parks" and "Bombs Over Baghdad", Big Boi gave a high-energy performance that kept the crowd moving and hip-hop lovers like myself singing along to every word. The show might have become a little too energetic due to the fact that it ended with Big Boi jumping across the stage and severely injuring his knee, causing the performance to end abruptly. It was announced that the show would have to end, which left the audience disappointed but still satisfied.

The weather became more severe as the night progressed. High winds picked up and heavy rain began to pour as darkness fell. The night ended with a performance by Phish lead man Trey Anastasio. Starting off the show with Phish's "First Tube", the crowd was completely energized throughout the entire performance despite the stormy weather. While the thunder roared, the crowd roared even louder, leading to one of the most unforgettable performances of the weekend.

After an hour of playing a power-packed performance, the band announced it would be back for a second set after a short break. However, after getting through only a few songs, it was announced that the show would have to be postponed due to weather. Much to the fans' disappointment, it was never resumed, but it was understandable given the weather conditions. Tents were uprooted and thunder and lightning filled the skies for the remainder of the evening, causing most Scampers to take residence in tents and gazebos for the remainder of the evening.

Even though weather stopped the music, it did not stop the party. While Summer Camp is mostly about the music, a strong aspect of the festival is the time spent with friends in such a free and liberating environment. No music was heard from the stages through the end of the evening, but many memories were made. No two trips to Summer Camp are exactly alike. While you generally know what to expect, there is always a curve ball which makes it a completely new experience every time.

One trip to Summer Camp is never enough to get the full experience of what the festival is about. With that being said...see you next year Scampers!

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).