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Ed.: NUVO intern Greg Winget's four day journal from Summer Camp chronicles a physically exhausting performance with his Bloomington-based band Spacesuit (tenor sax can take the wind out of one), hours of music by bands like moe. and Umphrey's McGee and a diet consisting almost entirely of burritos.

Day One: Thursday, May 21
Shows: Zmick, Family Groove Co., The Macpodz, Toubab Krewe

My eyes, bleary from a sleepless night and long drive, couldn’t help but wander as we first entered Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Ill. After all, I had been waiting for this moment since early March, when my band, Spacesuit, won a contest to play at Summer Camp, an annual music festival which this year featured headliners like Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood and Willie Nelson.

We drove past a throng of tie-dyed hippies who stood waiting in the 10 a.m. sun, their belongings heaped behind them in rickshaws and little red wagons — anything to make moving a sizeable load easier. The first artists to arrive, we confused the volunteers, who sent us one place after another trying to find our passes and wristbands. Eventually, we were escorted with our instruments and camping equipment into the nearly empty park, bypassing massive lines and a security checkpoint.

We picked a shady campsite near the edge of the woods, a prime spot for getting to the stages, vendors, bathrooms, and entrance. Once the gates had opened and our giant party of friends had set up camp around us, we immediately left the site to explore and get our first dose of Summer Camp’s main attraction: live music.

I made my way to the Starshine stage (also known as the Jager stage for the huge Jagermeister banners all around it) to catch the first set by Zmick, a jammy four-piece from Urbana, Ill.. Though the first song I saw sounded decidedly reggae, it became more apparent as the show progressed how much the band had been influenced by Umphrey's McGee. Switching between prog-inflected metal (with plenty of Cinninger-esque shredding) and jamtronica, Zmick fit pretty smugly into the post-Umphrey’s and moe. jam band scene, though their impressive musical chops and an above-average cover of “Something” showed potential and a hell of a lot of talent.

We took a few minutes to rest at the campsite after Zmick, listening to the folky worldbeat of The Ragbirds echo through the forest as the sun began to sink behind the trees. Their relaxing mix of upbeat African and Latin rhythms with American folk provided a great backdrop for some hot dog grilling and much-needed rest before setting out once more to the Starshine stage for Family Groove Company.

The Family certainly lived up to their name, sitting back on some chill grooves for most of their set. The highlight of their performance was Jordan Wilkow’s smoky organ solos showed a depth of musical understanding behind their pleasant, midtempo funk.

With an hour to burn before Toubab Krewe, I wandered home, only to be lured to the Camping stage by the jazzy funk of The Macpodz. A few blazing flugelhorn solos and a dynamite beat-box/flute solo (yes, beatboxing while playing the flute, like some kind of hip hop Ian Anderson) ensured that I would go to see their set early the next day, but I moved on quickly, eager to see the Krewe.

Toubab Krewe proved to be the day’s unarguable highlight, weaving together modern American instrumental rock with West African instruments and rhythms. The end result was one of the most enthralling and musically complex shows that I’ve had the opportunity to see. The show culminated in a drum solo that must have been ten minutes long in which two band members traded off on woodblocks, djembe, and a set of three huge African drums while the drummer continued to tear up his kit. The trio played in perfect rhythmic harmony, relentlessly blasting through explosive polyrhythms and patterns.

Particularly impressive was Justin Perkins, who played nearly every instrument on the stage at one point or another, including the kora (which reminded me of a banjo/sitar hybrid), electric guitar and every percussion instrument the group had available.

Exhausted, I went back to the campsite for the night, skipping Cornmeal to listen to Mooseknuckle, The Brew, and 56 Hope Road from the comfort of my lawn chair and tent and resting up for the next day of shows — which included my own.

Day Two - Friday, May 22
Shows: The Macpodz, moe., Spacesuit, Umphrey's McGee (two sets)

Our campsite’s location quickly revealed itself to be a mixed blessing Friday morning, as the bustle of eager festival-goers woke me up shortly before 10 a.m. I relaxed and ate a poor-tasting, overpriced breakfast burrito (seriously, who puts carrots on a breakfast burrito?) before heading over to the Starshine stage to see The Macpodz, enticed by their show the day before. Though still impressive, they seemed to lack a bit of the previous night’s energy.

I left early with a few friends to score a good spot for moe.’s first show on the Moonshine stage (the biggest stage, also called the main stage), which turned out to be a more laidback set than the beasts they unleashed later in the weekend. Hot and already a bit nervous, I made my way back home and began to warm up for my own band’s show, playing a few licks on my tenor sax in the field near the Campfire stage, where we would be playing. After our drummer returned from a drum workshop with Kris Myers and Andy Farag of Umphrey’s, we set about hauling our equipment from the car to the stage, did a quick sound check and got a computer ready to record the show from the soundboard.

Our 5 p.m. set time came quickly, and we began with an untitled 30-minute, two-part prog rock epic. Baking in the hot sun, I took a moment after the song finished to chug down an already warm bottle of water and wash the mixture of sweat and sunscreen from my burning eyes before launching into the next piece. As we started our last song “Titan” with 12 minutes left in our set, the combination of heat, lack of sleep and my already poor festival diet became nearly overwhelming, and I started to feel sick to my stomach.

Pressing on as best I could, I was ecstatic to make the transition into our only cover, King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which was sandwiched between two parts of “Titan”. Voice scratchy and close to breaking, I threw all the intensity I had left into Greg Lake’s classic vocals, and by the final verse, I was worried I might throw up into the mic while singing (how hardcore would that have been?). Tying everything up in a nice bow with the finale and climax of “Titan,” I finally earned the right to collapse on the steps at the back of the stage and chug down two full bottles of cold water. Though I hadn’t noticed it while on stage, four of the six members of Umphrey’s McGee had caught the last couple minutes of our prog-rock sandwich, watching from the back of the stage as we combined two songs written 40 years apart.

Mentally and physically exhausted, I had to miss Buckethead to take a quick pass-out break in my tent and eat some oh-so-delicious gyros from a nearby vendor. I spent the rest of the night observing the masters, relaxing to two exceptional sets from Umphrey’s before heading back to the campsite. - nuvo


Currently at work on highly-anticipated debut album but several tracks can be heard on the bands website



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About The Band

Spacesuit was formed by five Indiana University students in the vibrant college town of Bloomington, IN in 2007. The band's inventive sound is characterized by a colorful mixture of psychedelic rock, prog, jazz, and world music influences. Simultaneously blending the legendary musical ideologies of those who have inspired them (artists such as Pink Floyd and King Crimson) while also looking to the future has helped them create a sound that is uniquely theirs. Strong lead melodies are provided by guitarist Eric Cox and saxophonist Greg Winget, who skillfully weave serpentine phrases into a tapestry of sonic brilliance. Keyboardist David Hedriana utilizes piano, organ, and synthesizer to guide the band through stunning chord progressions that can conjure both celestial heights and subterranean depths in the course of each song. The rhythm section of Brian Chomka (bass) and Mark Musselman (drums) molds the explosive mixture into towering rhythmic sculptures that take the form of shifting time signatures, polyrhythmic latin grooves, and dense, molten funk. The combined sound of all five members creates landscapes that are cerebral and thrilling, extraterrestrial and organic, beautiful and torrential.

In the band's short three-year history they have become one of the premiere acts on the Bloomington scene, performing frequently at major local venues like the Bluebird and even earning the opportunity to perform at Chilicothe, IL's Summer Camp Music Festival (May �09) with the likes of jam titans Moe. and Umphreys McGee. Spacesuit's live shows are not to be missed, as they deliver a concise blend of the band's sophisticated compositions and soaring, frenetic improvisation. The band is currently at work on their debut album (to be released in 2010), an anticipated and boundary-pushing introduction to the music of this quickly-rising group of young artists.