Bands try to impress audience, earn spot in ‘Summer Camp 2019’


Cassandra Cullen

The Pine Travelers performing

Cassandra Cullen, Staff Writer

I stopped by High Noon Saloon off East Washington Avenue, on the weekend of March 15-17. I love this place because the whole venue is standing-room only, unless you are by the bar or on the balcony upstairs. It’s the smallest of the FPC Live venues, only holding 200 people max. You get more of the lesser known bands when you stop by, so you always leave knowing a new band.

I was there to listen to four bands compete for a space to play at “Summer Camp 2019.” Now, if you don’t know what that is, it is a music festival that is mainly jam bands and electronic music in Chillicothe, Illinois, at the Three Sisters Park during Memorial Day weekend. If you like festivals, but don’t like spending an arm and a leg on tickets or crowded spaces, but like camping, this is a festival to go to.

Looking around, I noticed there was a mix of young and old patrons, but no one looked younger than 21. As the night grew on, more and more people showed up. The closer you got to the stage, the more people you saw interpretive dancing.

Towards the back more people were mingling with those around them rather than listening to the music. The balcony, which is small and more intimate, is on the back wall above the entrance. It is a bit far from the stage so you don’t get a good view of the stage, but you get a great view of the whole space. There are even a few old-school arcade games up there.

I missed the first band because I was late, but if you like bluegrass, I’d recommend giving Monsters of Grass a listen, especially if they are good enough for a potential spot at a music festival.

The second band up was Spare Change Trio, a band from Milwaukee, who had a reggae vibe to their music. I enjoyed that they had a minimal set. A drummer, a guitarist/singer, and a bassist who also played the digeridoo. At one point the bassist played both at the same time and I thought that was freaking awesome.

You could tell the singer/guitarist was feeling the music and the crowd because he would do a little bit of dancing on the stage. The drummer was great at keeping the beat even without looking at his drum-set, he kept looking off into the distance and smiling. I’m definitely a new fan of theirs.

The third band was Pine Travelers who are from our own backyard here in Madison. They had a mix of music played, from funk to roots rock. They are a four-piece band, with a drummer, two bassists and a lead guitar/singer.

One of the bassists looked bored during the whole set, probably because he didn’t really play much other than a few basic chords. The one thing that really intrigued me about them was the fact that the drummer was playing while wearing a bow tie. I bet that is a factor that won them the spot.

The last band to play for a space was Wurk, who I admittedly have already seen a few times before this. They are also from Madison and are a true jam band with a whopping seven members. I like them because they have a funky sound and with that many members there are quite a few instruments.

One of the members played the flute and the saxophone. They were the most lively of the bands and people were really getting into their music, I’ve never seen so many people getting their groove on, from the stage all the way to the door there was people getting down. Since I had seen them before, I left before their set was over because I know that I’ll see them again soon.

Overall, I give this show a 9/10. I’ve never been to a place where I was able to give my opinion on who should be a part of a music festival, and even though my choice didn’t win, it was still rad. The only downside was how long it took for each band to set up, but that always comes with live music.