Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Set Music and Camping Festival 2014 - Review

Good weather once again blessed the pristine valley of Somerset WI this past weekend. Summer Set Music festival is one of the highlights of the entire year not just the summer, and it has failed to disappoint in any of it's three iterations. Lorin aka Bassnectar said it best " When festivals give the opportunity to play without noise interference it opens up so many magical doors of possibilities".  The magic of a festival tucked away in the woods, devoid of the hustle of the city is something you simply need to experience.


Somerset Amphitheater is the setting for the Summer Set Music Festival which promised many upgrades from last year and delivered on many fronts. The Grove Stage was the biggest improvement of all. No more breathing in dust and melting from the heat of 10,000 human beings crammed into a giant tent. Rather, it was nearly impossible not to enjoy the music and scenery on a permanent stage down in a secluded valley. Home to the greatest after parties imaginable, it didn't disappoint. With ample water stations at your disposal (a historically significant problem) it was a massive upgrade.

Summer Set 2014 Map


With a lineup full of big name acts and only an hour from the twin cities this is something you can't pass up. This being our third time at the festival we knew what to expect and what are agenda was. Making our way to the main stage watching the people filling in is always fun. The people watching may be as entertaining as the music itself, there is no lack of unique spirits wandering the festival grounds. We were there for the music, but much of the fun is just hanging out with like-minded people and taking the opportunity to see how people express themselves when unencumbered by their daily life.


Break Science was the first "can't miss" act on our agenda and they blew everything we expected out of the water. After they threw down we made our way to the Grove Stage for The Disco Biscuits, another highly anticipated performance we mid-westerners don't get often enough. Kaskade closed out Friday night on the main stage with a massive set. The fireworks were a huge surprise and definitely put a cap on the evening. Summerset's after parties are possibly the musical highlight of the entire festival.  Collaborations and performances with a variety of "special guests" are what make them so special.  With the world premiere of ManicScience, a collaboration between Break Science and ManicFocus and a full set by Gramatik, if you had anything left in the tank at 2:30 in the morning, you are a better man than I am.

Saturday had a huge lineup with most people vowing not to miss to Cherub at six. As you can imagine, the early part of the day was less busy as people recovered from the night before. We stopped by Wu-Tang Clan, which had a large crowd and good energy. The crowd was bumping to the beats they were throwing down. Our musical tastes lie in a different direction, so we headed for Flux Pavilion at the Grove stage. He exceeded everyone's expectations as well, epic laser show and heavy beats made for one hell of a show. Our most anticipated show of the entire weekend was the three time Summer Set veterans Big Gigantic. They closed out the main stage on Saturday night and were the group we were looking forward to most. Big G always brings their "A" game when they come to the Midwest and this time was no different. We tend not to be front and center in the thick of the crowd, rather we hang back and take in the surroundings as a whole. Big G had Cherub on stage for their single "The Night is Young" which was a welcome surprise. Next Flux Pavilion took the stage with them and threw down an epic jam. The show took on a whole new aspect after that, Big G ramped it up. Another epic fireworks display made for an unforgettable experience.




Saturday night's after-party may have been the most anticipated 2 hours of the weekend. We meandered down the wood chip trail pumped for Savoy, but it was the Emancipator Ensemble that was a genuine surprise. We have heard of them before but was never able to partake in the enchantment that is their live performance. Big ups to those four, it was perfect to start the after party.  Savoy


Then Sunday happened.  Living so close to the festivities we decided to head for home for some recovery. Showers, food and air conditioning all sounded like something that was needed. We had to go back for Umphrey's McGee and Bassnectar who closed out the entire festival with huge sets. Umph is a long time favorite of ours, so missing that show was not an option.  Bassnectar has always been on our radar and having him come visit made us proud to be from the mid-west. He threw down one hell of a set, mixing in old beats with new jams off his stellar release. It was nothing to miss out on, if you did, I apologize because you missed possibly the best set of the entire weekend.  It was obvious that the three day festival had taken it's tole on those there.  The vibe was much more laid back, with many watching Nectar's set from the comfort of their asses on the hill.  Understandable, as the 48 hours leading up to it was nothing short of an epic rage.


In recap on what was, the festival alone pulls in some huge acts and doesn't disappoint. The upgrades were a huge plus from the year before but there is still one issue that continues to creep to the forefront, water. I understand them trying to sell it, but the availability of filling stations needs to be addressed. The grove stage had an amazing oasis of water with the powerful nozzle but the station at the main stage is a disappointment. Ten tiny water fountains for the masses doesn't cut it. Throw a couple hoses around the venue and the situation is taken care of. I noticed a lot of people complaining about the amount of security, this I have absolutely no problem with. In the event of an emergency I enjoy the fact they are easily accessible and always willing to help. Huge thank you to SIMSHOWS, React and all the other sponsors that put on this amazing festival. Keep up the good work and we will see you next year.

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