Article by: Ryan Hood
Not even Mother Nature could dampen the mood at Summer Camp Music Festival’s 21st birthday parade, but it wasn’t for her lack of trying. An abundance of rain in the Chillicothe area in the week leading up to the festival made for some muddy conditions earlier on in the weekend, but the sun was shining for most of the weekend and campers were all smiles regardless of the conditions.
The 21st installment of the iconic jamtronica festival featured an incredibly diverse lineup featuring some of the hottest names in bass music right now. Talented artists such as Peekaboo, Mersiv, and Ravenscoon dazzled fans with their devastating beats. Jantsen laid waste to the Illumination Stage on the festival’s final night. Multiple artists brought out Balkan Bump over the weekend to play live trumpet and share unreleased collaborations. Electro swing Summer Camp mainstays Daily Bread, Manic Focus, and Maddy O’Neal — along with SoDown and the iconic electronic band Cherub — delivered one of the best single-day stage lineups Summer Campers could’ve asked for. Daily Bread ended up playing a second set just before his scheduled festival-closing set on the Illumination Stage. Headliner Big Gigantic played some fan-favorite deeper cuts among a plethora of tunes from its new album. Other standout sets include keyboardist Jason Leech, teenage color bass wunderkind Moore Kismet, and electrofunk icon Opiuo.
Summer Camp also has a rich history in other genres, as jam bands like hosts Umphrey’s McGee and moe. are must-sees for all attendees. Magic City Hippies were a daytime highlight this year, gracing the stage with infectious energy and delivering a modern alternative take on jam music. Recycled Funk brought an instrumental flair to the bass-heavy Illumination Stage. The daytime lineup is perfect for discovering new bands and wandering between stages while hitting up the vendors or checking out the workshops and art installments.
The workshops and talks at the SOULPATCH were incredibly thought-provoking and educational. These talks, along with an entire row of nonprofit vendors, show the festival’s continued commitment to sustainable practices and community empowerment. My personal favorite was a talk hosted by a professional who works with individuals experiencing homelessness in Oakland, CA. This hit very close to home for me as I am from that area and have seen first-hand the issues homelessness, lack of access to resources, and years of racist policies can cause in communities.
There were other similar talks held throughout the weekend. Space for people to feel safe and share their experiences is so important. I believe in the importance of using one’s platform to advocate for the less fortunate and underprivileged, and Summer Camp’s commitment to discourse should be made an example for other festivals around the country.
The vendors and food options are two of the best parts of this festival. I tend to overpack food for my campsite, but I couldn’t help myself and indulge. My vegan girlfriend had no issue finding food to fit her needs, as many of the food vendors had options for attendees with dietary restrictions. Care is taken in curating this festival, as they always have the attendees’ best interest in mind.
Overall my experience at Summer Camp was nothing short of fantastic, and it’s made its way into my regular yearly rotation of festivals. I’m already looking forward to Summer Camp 2023!
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