Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

By Anand Balasubrahmanyan

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
Somerset Amphitheater, Somerset, Wisconsin
Friday, August 24, 2012

See Also:
Slideshow: Summer Set 2012, The People
Slideshow: Summer Set, The Artists
Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day two, 8/25/12

Around 2:30 p.m. festive globs of dubstep, hip-hop and jam fans trickled through the gates of the Somerset Amphitheater in various levels of excitement and inebriation. As the mass throngs grew larger, it seemed everyone gawked with the initial head rush of festival ethnography. Who has the best neon tie-dye? Are hula hoops really this popular? Does that guy's shirt say 'Slut Party'?

At this point, the fest employees still hurry to construct the spectacle. A giant bouncy castle/ air mattress was inflating beneath a spire of scaffolding. For $10 you could leap from this great height and smack the plastic with a massive sploomph -- a public plunge into excess that is matched only by the grandiosity of the festival itself. A grizzled emergency medical services vet gave his staff some advice torn from the battlefield, "Remember some of these folks have been drinking since noon."

Based on the 9 a.m. Coors can pyramids littering the camp grounds, the vet's estimation was charitable. Indulgence was, to put it mildly, encouraged at Summer Set. Glass paraphernalia was sold with a Woodstock wink on festival grounds. Practically every artist raved up the crowd with a "You ready to get FUCKED UP!?" or listed the drugs they hope the audience had taken. Pro-substance messaging was popular with the rowdy and roughly college age crowd and the first splash of spilled beer hits Gimme Noise at 3:47 p.m. -- a mere 17 minutes into the fest's first set.

RJD2 kicked off the day with a rousing bout of turntable wizardry. Battling gusts of wind that blew the needles across his record players (a triumphant RJ boasted, "just a hazard of DJing with real records"), the star DJ worked the crowd with horn blasted funk and panting Darth Vader samples. His set really reached the next level when he brought out a live drummer to bolster the Cuban jazz lovefest of "1976."

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

To the right of the main stage were two smaller, genre-driven venues. Electro fans flocked to the hockey rink which had been converted into a dubstep terror dome. Wub-wub highlight, Mimosa, rocked the strobing cavern with theatrical bass drops and animated chest pounding. "This is my heart!" he screamed as sweat drenched dancers thrust glowsticks to the ceiling. The second side stage featured mainly small-cult jam artists like the delightful Gentlemen Hall. The Boston six piece played endearingly low key pop that sounded like if Rooney added a rock flautist.

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Yelawolf brought the party back to the mainstage. The Alabama tat-canvass spat country-boy slang and elaborated on his friendship with his boss and fellow psychotic white person, Eminem. Between shots of complimentary hotel vodka, Yelawolf devoured fan favorites, "Daddy's Lambo" and the rapid fire "Trunk Muzik." Hands raised the highest however, during a bratty medley of Beastie Boys hits ("No Sleep till Brooklyn," "Brass Monkey," and "Intergalactic")

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Rising Twin Cities rapper Prof to provided the night's highest point. Earlier in the day, a festival staff member insisted I catch Prof's performance, telling me that the young MC was "the best rapper in Minnesota, hands down." Prof's grassroots following packed in front of the small stage while a cool breeze caused a crowd-held Minnesota state flag to billow majestically. Clad in purple Vikings bling, the giddy rapper led the audience through songs they already knew by heart. "I'm about to sing a song that none of you will like," smirked Prof before he showed off his storytelling chops with the domestic disturbance drama, "Myself." By the end it felt like the MC was destined for bigger stages as the power and glee of "Animal" eclipsed even the pseudo Daft Punk pyramid of Friday's headliner, Big Gigantic.

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival day one, 08/24/12
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Personal Bias: I never really delved into jam music before this weekend (aside from an unpleasant four hours of bongo at a String Cheese Incident concert my freshman year of college) and spent as much time as possible at the jam stage to get a better feel of what the genre was all about.

The Crowd: College-aged and rave ready. Though mostly male (I'd estimate 60/40), about a third wore tie dye and the rest had at least one bright neon accessory.

Overheard in the Crowd: While setting up my tent, I overheard a large group of dudes give a drunken seminar on profane American vernacular. Much like the scene from the Wire where McNulty and Bunk solve a case while only uttering the word "mother fucker," these bros communicated soley with variations of the word "faggot." Their argument turned out to be about which one of them would retrieve the American flag from their pickup truck (!).

Random Notebook Dump:
White people in Native American headdress: 16
Actual Native Americans: 0

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