Article by: Jessica Bishop
The comforting dim lighting of the Lafayette Theater offered a welcoming glow to music fans awaiting the start of Summer Camp: On the Road. The show is a competition where bands compete in hopes of winning a spot in the Summer Camp Music Festival held during Memorial Day weekend in Illinois. The festival offers the chance of performing alongside several well-known acts such as Moe., Umphrey’s Mcgee, and The Roots.
The theater was adorned with several white round tables throughout, but left enough room toward the front of the stage for people to dance. Off to the left of the entryway was a table with three small, white boxes sitting on top, in which ticket purchasers could vote for their favorite band of the evening. As an added incentive to vote, one lucky name would be pulled from the voting boxes, and would receive a weekend pass to the Summer Camp Music Festival.
First up for the night was last year’s Summer Camp winner, the Fergus Daly Band. They are a five piece alternative folk rock group consisting of Fergus Daly (guitar and vocals), Zach Coles (bass), Mike Dunkle (drums), Dru Alkire (lead guitar), and Joe Kollman (mandolin, vocals, and banjo).With an all-American sound and just a touch of countryside twang it was evident immediately why they were last year’s winner. The band seemed relaxed and natural on stage as Joe Kollman rocked back and forth with the steady rhythm, and Zach Coles bobbed up and down with every pluck of a string.
Blue and purple spotlights shone upon the stage as indigo rings swirled around the floor. The unpretentious down-home beat played upon the ears of the youth in the crowd in such an inviting manner that they twirled beneath the stage in bouts of free-spirited ballet that only children seem to possess. This seemed to inspire the Fergus Daly Band so much so that they dedicated their next song to the “little kids dancing out front.” “Pocket Full Of Ice” was a contrast to their mostly upbeat songs. The echoey voices and an eerie sapphire luminescence created a sort of soft hushed awe upon the crowd. They played a couple more toe-tapping hits, such as “Sitting in the Alley” and “Calico and Roses.” Afterward they thanked the crowd and hyped them up for the next band.
Miller, a local favorite, took the stage next. Miller is made up of Darren Grisby (guitar and vocals), Cole Miller (percussion), Ryan Fletcher (flute), Scott Pazera (bass), and LD Miller (harmonica and vocals). Miller blends a unique modern psychedelic soul that seems to capture audiences’ hearts everywhere they go.
Flute is rather rare in today’s rock ‘n’ roll scene, but Ryan Fletcher’s expert playing and euphonious sound makes you wish it was something made more prevalent in new music. That combined with LD’s almost indescribable vivaciousness on harmonica makes Miller fans come back for more time and time again. Scott Pazera’s casual air made it look as if smooth, precise bass lines come more naturally to him than breathing. They played a spine-tingling cover of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” that would have made Norman Whitfield proud. They had the crowd stomping along in excitement. LD’s passion on stage was contagious and his fiery voice rang across the stage in a robust thunder.
Miller ended their funk filled set by thanking the audience and showing their support of SpaceWords and the Fergus Daly Band.
SpaceWords concluded the night with an excited, pumped up crowd. They formed in late 2013, and are composed of Kevin Hull (guitar, vocals), Aaron Ade (guitar), William Pinnick (guitar, vocals), Jeffrey Lageveen (Drums), and Kelly Greene (bass). With a sound that melds 90’s era grunge and contemporary alternative rock with deep lyrics and moody melodies, they bring about a sense of nostalgia for classic bands like Nirvana and Radiohead.
Bright, flashing white lights by Lafayette Theater’s own Robbie Alford strobed in between riffs that mimicked the band’s electrifying sound. They played, to the delight of the crowd, an original song called “Bury.” It had a serene, fluid tone and beautifully course vocals provided by Kevin Hull that captured the relatable angst of everyday life. The drummer, Jeffrey Lageveen, belongs to an exclusive breed of percussionists that not only have a tremendous amount of talent, but are also entertaining to watch. Kelley Greene exuded an effortless cool as he shook his hair over his face in between grooves. William Pinnick’s vocals were soothing and soulful, and Aaron Ade’s proficiency on guitar was apparent throughout the entire show.
To the delight of the theater-goers, SpaceWords also threw in an excellent Queens of the Stone Age cover to the set, “A Song for the Dead“. SpaceWords’ incredible musical ability, catchy songs, and exciting stage presence all factored in to them winning coveted the spot at the Summer Camp Music Festival. If you like getting great songs stuck in your head, you can check out more SpaceWords music here.
All the bands that participated in the show were enormously talented and all deserving of a spot in the Summer Camp line-up. The whole night was jam-packed with great music, a hospitable staff, and an air of good times shared by the entire crowd. Tickets for the Summer Camp Music Festival can be purchased here.