Last weekend, Summer Camp Music Festival concluded its final edition in its current form over the past weekend at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, Ill. With long-standing co-headliners and host bands moe. and Umphrey’s McGee leading the way, the festival bid a memorable farewell by joining forces for a special collaborative set on Saturday and coming together again on Sunday to deliver a fitting and crowd-pleasing rendition of Simple Minds’ hit song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
moe. has been a staple headliner at Summer Camp since its inaugural event in 2001, while Umphrey’s McGee joined two years later in 2003 when it transitioned to being held over Memorial Day Weekend. On May 16, Summer Camp producer Ian Goldberg announced that the traditional festival would be taking an indefinite hiatus following this year’s installment. Goldberg mentioned plans to introduce a reimagined camping and music experience at Three Sisters Park every Memorial Day, starting in 2024, under the Summer Camp brand.
As expected, both moe. and Umphrey’s McGee treated attendees to performances on each day of Summer Camp 2023. Umphrey’s McGee’s first set on Saturday was billed as “moe. and Umphrey’s McGee,” featuring a collaboration between the two bands. Joined by Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Brendan Bayliss, moe. kicked off the set with “Moth” before seamlessly transitioning into “Meat” with the participation of Umphrey’s McGee members Jake Cinninger and Joel Cummins. Umphrey’s McGee then took the reins for an electrifying rendition of “In The Kitchen,” featuring moe. guitarist Al Schnier.
The set included an exciting cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” with moe. teaming up with Bayliss and Umphrey’s McGee percussionist Andy Farag. moe. continued with their classic song “Rebubula,” with each member of Umphrey’s McGee gradually taking over until the final moments, until Umphrey’s McGee closed out the song. They then went on to perform their single “The Silent Type” from the album It’s Not Us, with moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey and keyboardist Nate Wilson adding their musical prowess to the mix.
The collaborative set reached a climax with three mesmerizing classic rock covers featuring contributions from all members of both bands and special guests. The crowd was treated to an energetic rendition of Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed & Painless,” then Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” enhanced by the talents of Mike Dillon and Goose’s Ben Atkind. A notable highlight was moe. bassist Rob Derhak taking a swing at a giant cowbell fit for Babe the Blue Ox. The cowbell extravaganza continued as Umphrey’s McGee drummer Kris Myers led the vocals for the grand finale, a spirited rendition of “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad.
Umphrey’s McGee closed out the festival on Sunday, inviting moe. to join them for a special collaborative encore. Together, the bands chose to perform the aforementioned iconic 1985 Simple Minds hit, “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” Taking the opportunity to address the crowd, Bayliss shared heartfelt sentiments about the festival, reminiscing about their initial experience at Summer Camp and the welcoming attitude of moe. towards Umphrey’s McGee. Bayliss expressed gratitude for the sense of belonging and encouraged attendees to embrace their own uniqueness, concluding with a lighthearted and humorous remark that brought cheers and laughter from the audience.
He said, “Summer Camp, we love you all so very much. We have a lot of fantastic memories from this place. A lot of things that I don’t remember. Your fault. I will say one thing. The first time we ever came to Summer Camp, I sat down at catering and the guys from moe. sat down next to me and they talked to me just like I was a normal person.” He continued, “For the first time, it made me feel legitimate. Because I’m very illegitimate. The point is, if somebody like me can get somebody like them to come on stage with somebody like me, then maybe somebody like you can convince somebody like them that you are worth [it.] It made me feel special even though I’m not.” They closed the set and then shouted, “Everyone is getting laid!”
With the conclusion of this unforgettable Summer Camp Music Festival, fans and musicians alike fondly recall the cherished memories created at Three Sisters Park. The collaborative performances by moe. and Umphrey’s McGee showcased the spirit of unity and celebration that has made the festival a beloved annual tradition.
Watch moe. and Umphrey’s McGee’s farewell to Summer Camp below.