Festival Diaries: Summer Set, Wisconsin 2016.
Ah, Summer Set. Such mixed feelings about you!
So, this being my first festival back in the US this year, I had some fair expectations. Namely:
- Water fountains. I think you already know my feelings about the lack of water fountains at music festivals in Europe.
Ok, I thought I was going to do a whole list there, but I guess that was actually my biggest and only expectation.
Well, either way, they failed to deliver. It was still better than Europe, for sure - there were real bathrooms, which meant sinks with running water, which meant we were able to fill up our water bottles. But for a good thirty minutes after first entering the festival grounds, J- and I went around looking for these legendary, written-about water fountains that were supposedly readily available everywhere, but not to be found. We must have asked at least half a dozen different festival employees, who kept pointing us in opposite directions (in what was actually a very small venue!). In the end, we had to just go to the bathroom, and fill up at the sinks.
Ok, now that we've gotten my mandatory water-rant out of the way, on to good stuff:
Entrance, Logistics, and Costs.
Tickets - tickets were, in my opinion, unrealistically expensive for one-day. The three-day camping packages were actually pretty good: $280 all-included, I believe. But the one-day passes that J- and I got came out to $121 a piece, all fees and delivery included. We had to pay for shipping as well, as the wristbands were received in the mail, and you had to then register them online. Again, a bit pricey, but getting the tickets was fairly hassle-free.
Getting to the festival - Again, really not bad. In Somerset, Wisconsin, there's not much else around the amphitheater, so we wondered if we were actually in the right place, as we drove up. But it's only about an hour drive from the Twin Cities, and really pretty countryside along the way.
Parking - Super, super easy. When we first pulled into the festival, we were told we had to purchase a $40 parking pass. But quickly pulling back onto the main road, we found free parking behind a Super America gas station. We thought it might be too easy to be true --- but it really wasn't. So, no issues there, and it was still only about a 15 minute walk to the festival entrance gate. (So easy!!)
Entrance - Definitely one of the most pain-free entrances I've gone through in the past year. I think in part due to the fact it's a smaller festival, we didn't have to deal with a lot of the issues with crowding. Also, I think a lot of people were there for the full three days, so there weren't too many individuals entering the grounds around 5pm on Saturday, the second day of the festival. The security was, however, pretty tight. Unlike in Europe, where I felt security was mostly looking for weapons and dangerous items, here they were definitely looking for drugs. There were even drug-dogs on site, which I felt was a bit intense.
Music & Magic.
Ok now, the music itself, was amazing. I had such an incredible day of dancing and vibe-ing to the sounds. We arrived to see Hippie Sabotage - two brothers from California, who I'd seen before in SF. Unfortunately, most of their set we spent looking for the water fountain. Here were the music highlights:
Flatbush Zombies - I've never seen these guys live, and didn't have a lot of expectations. I like them, but they've never been my favorite hip-hop group. I was so blown out of the water. They were amazing! So much energy and so dedicated to the fans/ crowd. The only thing that was a bit annoying was how frequently they stopped the music to speak on nothingofmajorimportance. But I think I can forgive that, because their set ended so well. [Listen to Flatbush Zombies on Soundcloud here]. The did play one of my favorite tracks from back in the day:
Alison Wonderland - Alison Wonderland was probably my most anticipated artist for the evening. I'd seen her before at 1015 Folsom in SF, and she was amazing. They literally had to drag her off stage that night - she wanted to keep playing for everyone, but security was shutting the club down. I remember her pouring shots over the stage to girls. She was incredible! And, she did not disappoint at all at Summer Set. So much new music that she shared, too. Listen to Alison Wonderland's latest on Soundcloud, here.
Atmosphere - I hadn't planned to stay for Atmosphere's full set, but once the music started, it actually ended up being really good. I'd lost track of my hometown heroes soon after "If Life Gives You Lemons....." and so I really didn't know what to expect from them at this point, musically. But their sound has actually continued to progress a lot since I was in high school! And they even played my all-time favorite: "Trying to Find a Balance", namely. So, that wasn't bad at all.
Bassnectar - We closed out the night with Bassnectar. I actually don't have too much to write here, except that I was super bummed when the music ended. I lost my phone during this set, so that was bittersweet.
All Those Pesky Rocks Life Hits You With Sometimes...
So first I'll say, I was really not ready to leave when the music ended. That's another one of my major complaints about Summer Set - the festival officially ends before midnight, which seems ridiculously early. Especially coming off of Europe, where we stayed until the sun came up, every time.
What's more annoying though, is that Summer Set put together official 'afterparties', which were within the main festival location, but required another ticket (an additional $40). This just seems like a huge rip-off....
And then… I lost my phone. Or, it was stolen. I’m still not 100% sure.
One moment it was in my hand… and the next, it was gone. I vaguely remember a few people coming up towards toward the end of the night, brushing up or bumping into me, and moving off. But it’s also very possible that I threw the phone away, in a fit of anti-materialism that I was feeling after such a night of good music and love.
It was really the black mark on what otherwise would have been a pretty wonderful day. I’m trying to apply all the things I’ve learned this year and learn to deal with the phone loss constructively, and not dwell on it. It’s hard, though. I keep thinking about how I could have been more careful, and it’s driving me a bit crazy.
Anyway, Summer Set - thanks for the music.