Top 6 Shows of the Weekend
#6) Cornmeal (Thursday Night)
Cornmeal is without a doubt one of my favorite live bands. This is easily one of the most energetic acts at this entire festival. Allie Kral is a superstar and Kris Nowak plays a style of guitar that I have never quite heard before. Although early in the weekend, they cemented this show into my top six with a gnarly cover of The Nuge’s “Stranglehold”.
#5) Anders Osborne
Like I said in my coverage of Anders’ set in Part I, this performance was honest to the core. This is blues music the way it should be. Throbbing and painful. Anders left it all on the table during this Saturday afternoon ripper.
#4) Tedeschi Trucks Band
Derek Trucks reminds me of Duane Allman. That’s all that really needs to be said. His slide is potent and his wife Susan has chops that would rival any female guitarist I’ve ever heard. This was a phenomenal show, just as I had suspected walking into the weekend.
#3) Greensky Bluegrass (Sunday Afternoon)
#2) Wyllys & The New York Hustler Ensemble
#1) Umphrey’s McGee (Friday Night)
6. Leftover Salmon
There’s a reason why these guys have become living legends within the jam scene, bringing a balance of well conceived songs and high flying jams to heir Friday afternoon set . Colorado is lucky to have them as their own.
5. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus
Michigan’s premier jam rock outfit wasted little time. Digging into their signature trance rock sound early and often, UV Hippo’s undeniable talent showed throughout their set – by its end, they had build the weekend’s biggest crowd at the Camping Stage.
Although he’s as quirky and odd as they come, Primus’s bassist Les Claypool doesn’t fuck around with his music. Musically this set was as tight as any I saw at Summer Camp and was widely talked about afterward. Bob Weir’s sit in during “The Other One” had the crowd in absolute hysterics – one of the single most powerful live collaborations I’ve ever witnessed.
3. The Infamous Stringdusters (Thursday night set)
The Infamous Stringdusters are the current kings of the bluegrass scene. They’re so tight it’s disgusting – I can’t help but throw up rainbows disgusting. Summer Camp string music was at its absolute best during Thursday’s set at the Campfire Stage.
At Summer Camp, Rubblebucket represented everything that’s right about live music. Their combination of energy and heart blasted through the speakers during their set in the Vibes Tent, and although most of the festival was womping at Break Science or too spun at Shpongle, Rubblebucket performed like this was the show of their lives. I don’t have many “goosebump” type moments at shows anymore, but during this set, they were too numerous to count.
1. moe. (Friday afternoon set)
Typically moe.’s snoozer offering of the weekend, Friday’s afternoon set unfolded as the weekend’s best. From the opening notes of “Not Coming Down,” to the closer of “Okay Alright,” moe. played with soulful conviction that’s often missing in today’s music scene. These guys are a true jam band at a jam festival. Unlike other popular bands who use music stands and precompose their “jam” sections, there’s no cheating with moe. They fall flat on their face sometimes, but when they’re on, they’re so on it’s undeniable. The jams out of “Timmy Tucker,” “Spine of a Dog,” and “Buster” exemplify the reasons why I still come out to these events after all these years.
6. Tedeschi Trucks Band
The most soulful set of the weekend. I had no idea Susan Tedeschi had such amazing guitar chops to go along with that sweet voice. This was pretty much the ideal Sunday late afternoon show.
5. Wyllys & the NY Hustler Ensemble
There simply isn’t enough disco at music festivals, so it’s a good thing that the Hustlers are around to hold it down where ever they go. This set felt so right.
An absolute sledgehammer of a set. Nonstop electro explosions. Insane energy.
3. UV Hippo
These guys absolutely threw down. Best set I’ve seen from them as a 5 piece. Maybe best festival set I’ve ever seen from them.
Lush, organic electronic music with a stage full of beautiful women hanging on trapezes. My favorite electronic set of the weekend.
1. Umphrey’s McGee
Can’t pick a night — both of them kicked my ass. Easily the best Summer Camp I’ve seen from these guys. They were on fire from start to finish.
Our Favorite Musicians to Photograph at Summer Camp
Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band)
Jeff Austin creates some of the most outrageous facial expressions I have ever seen. I find myself having the most fun with live music photography when a musician has completely lost themselves in their music. Jeff does just that. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jeff not only loses himself, but his soul exits his body so that he can create a deeper connection with the bluegrass gods above. His eyes roll back in his head, his face contorts, and his body flails. It makes for good photography.
Jake Cinninger (Umphrey’s McGee)
I might have so much fun photographing Jake, simply because he is one of my favorite musicians PERIOD. This guy is a Shredi Knight of the highest order and seeing him play his instrument, with such prowess and charisma, through a 200mm zoom lens, is a real treat.
Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass)
I have fun shooting Paul Hoffman for a lot of the same reasons I have fun shooting Jeff Austin. I know they’re both mandolin players, but that’s besides the point. Paul (much like Jeff) is probably the most active member of his outfit, Greensky Bluegrass. He’s always moving and dancing around the stage with a real loose demeanor… throwing his head around like he’s playing in an 80’s rock band, which, he sometimes is.
The Ladies of Quixotic
A picture is worth a thousand words…
Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters)
It’s difficult to figure out exactly what The Infamous Stringduster’s Chris Pandolfi is thinking while he plays. He’s as animated as they come which at Summer Camp had me ready to pull the camera trigger the entire show, waiting the next emotion to spring loose from the virtuosic banjoist.
Allie Kral (Cornmeal)
Gracefully poised, Cornmeal’s Allie Kral is a joy to photograph every time she performs. Thursday night was no exception as she led Cornmeal through one helluva rockin’ bluegrass show.
Al Schnier (moe.)
Whereas most artists find it difficult to break the wall between stage and audience, moe.’s Al Schnier loves to give the cameras something extra during each performance. He walked up to the photo pits at least once during each set which allowed me to capture a few magical moments to share. And lasers never hurt.
Felix Moreno (Future Rock)
It would take an F4 tornado to knock him out of the power stance. Supposedly it’s to stabilize the guitar, but it’s really because he’s a fucking rockstar.
Ryan Stasik (Umphrey’s McGee)
The Legend of The Pony grows. He was hilarious at Kickball, wore hilarious shirts all weekend, danced hilariously on stage, and that mustache… Pony is the man.
No one has more fun than Thibault. The master of making a crowd go apeshit, which isn’t hard when he’s always goin HAM — his energy is infectious.