Summer Camp Offers a Jam Band Paradise
By Jeffrey V. Smith
Three Sisters Park
Umphrey’s McGee and moe. lead the lineup at this Midwest, Memorial Day weekend, family-themed festival – now in its eleventh year – as they have for more than a decade. Although built around those bands’ three days of multi-set performances, Summer Camp Music Festival is about much, much more. The festival, which has grown from a small local event to more than 20,000 attendees, hosting over 74 bands on seven stages over three days, still maintains the same energy and family-feel it had over a decade ago.
Summer Camp is known for its wooded camping sites, intimate late-night shows, and numerous sets from the headliners. It’s a prescription for fun that keeps “scampers” coming back each year. Attendees can expect an abundance of moe. and Umphrey’s McGee along with stellar sets from the massive line-up of the industry’s up-and-comers and top acts, including unannounced sound checks, sit-ins and other mouthwatering musical treats. This year, heavy-hitting artists Primus, Jane’s Addiction, and Bob Weir also add to the mix. But honestly, it’s the huge array of up-and-coming bands heavy on jamming, electronic dance and progressive jam rock, that give Summer Camp its feel and appeal. Despite its distance from home, Colorado bands are well represented by Pretty Lights, Leftover Salmon, EOTO, Elephant Revival, Yonder Mountain String Band, Big Gigantic and Underground Orchestra members, Trichome, and James & the Devil.
You’re going there to see: Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Gov’t Mule, Yonder Mountain String Band, Galactic, Leftover Salmon.
You’re going to come home talking about: Gigantic Underground Conspiracy (featuring members of Big Gigantic and Underground Orchestra), and soul revivalists J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound.
(As calculated by maps.google.com from Denver, Colo. to Chillicothe, Ill.)
Total Est. Time: 14 hours, 51 minutes
Total Est. Distance: 934 miles
YOU NEED TO KNOW: Summer Camp Field Day is a year-round team-based competition taking place both at the festival and online. Four teams coordinate their members and decide aspects of their themes like team songs, mascots, etc. Each year, one team is named the Summer Camp Field Day champion. Their team flag will be flown on Sunday, and for the entire festival the following year until the new winner’s flag is raised. The winning team receives a keg party during the flag raising ceremony and a trophy to show off while at the festival.
Camping: Extensive camping and camping amenities are available. Spots, including a precious few in the trees, are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.