Summer Set Music & Camping Festival, 8/16/14
|Fans at Summer Set Music & Camping Festival|
Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
Somerset Amphitheater, Somerset
Saturday, August 16, 2014
This year's Summer Set Music & Camping Festival demonstrated the unrelenting hold that the contemporary EDM movement has on popular music and youth culture as a whole. Tucked away in the sprawling fields of Somerset, Wisconsin, the grounds were abuzz with young people beneath layers of hand-beaded rave kandy. They traded bracelets in a precise manner that involves mutual hand gestures that represent Peace, Love, Unity and Respect.
Strangers were eager to make friends, and homemade signs bobbed above the crowd as a barrage of dubstep-heavy DJs tested the limits of the bass. The omnipresent hula-hooping rave girls held their positions along the fringes of the dance floor, which swelled greater as the sun fell each night and the glow-in-the-dark masses migrated to the main stage for the final acts.
Slideshow: Summer Set: People and Scenes
|The Smokers Club at Summer Set|
Just before Schoolboy Q's Saturday set, A$AP Ferg's "Shabba Ranks" blasted over the system, and festies descended like a group of neon zombies on ecstasy down the hills and toward the Main Stage. It seemed like a quarter of the concertgoers were toting signs: the Wu-Tang "W" on yellow poster board, a giant photo of movie popcorn, Homer Simpson's head. At first, the vast concrete lot seemed suspiciously empty, but the bodies continued coming down the hills, slowly filling it to capacity. Between each song, the DJ sounded an airhorn. Q mounted the stage with the words, "Any Schoolboy Q fans in this motherfucker? This is the Oxygen experience," then launched into "Hands on the Wheel." The crowd was hyped. Tank-top bro approached us, asking for a lighter. "Happy Summer Set," he said, lighting a joint and passing it along.
Schoolboy Q was taunting the crowd, shouting, "Hey, whatup nigga? Whatup nigga? Whatup nigga?" It seemed like every kind of hipster hat in existence was present in the audience. There were trucker hats with neon block-letter phrases emblazoned across them, visors, and baseball hats with the stickers still on the brim. People were singing along to "What They Want." Q continued taunting, instructing people to "turn up!" The airhorn was relentless, and Q's energy was contagious. "I remember the last time I was in Wisconsin and shit, and shit was so turnt up," he said. "This shit is even more turnt up." He then went into "Collard Greens," his infectious song with Kendrick Lamar (who we were silently praying would pop up out of the fog machine to join in).
The sun was very hesitantly beginning to go down, and the glowsticks started to glow brighter in the dusk. Suddenly it became apparent how many people were wearing glowing devil horns. A girl frantically waved a street sign in the air reading "RAVE." Groups of shirtless bros adorned the grassy hill to the left of the stage, bro-ing out hard to "Studio." Schoolboy Q started taunting the crowd again, pretending to take requests while insisting that he wouldn't play "Man of the Year" until the end of his set.
We began walking over to the Big Top stage, past the spinning Starship 2000 carnival ride and the towering, flashing Ferris wheel. A group of people wearing neon orange shirts printed with "Full Moon Party" lurked on the edges. "I can't stop smiling!" a guy walking past exclaimed. KandiMan Sam was absolutely covered in kandy rave bracelets, one of which he had fashioned out of rows of interwoven plastic beads wrapping around a slinky. The kandy created the illusion that he had overly muscular arms. Over his mouth he wore an oxygen mask, also fashioned out of beads. It seemed like some kind of contest to display the most kandy, yet young ravers were eager to trade their bracelets with one another.
When New York's the Chainsmokers began, it was extremely crowded under the Big Top. As soon as the music started, more people ran from all directions, pumping their fists in the air. The bass was pounding. The jingle of girls' skirts, beaded with metal coins, was heard over the roar of "Reload," the drop-heavy track by Sebastian Ingrosso featuring Tommy Trash and John Martin. People sang along at the top of their lungs. The Chainsmokers, a tag team of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, played a set full of electro house and progressive house including their hit song "#Selfie," which chronicles a conversation between two girls at the club taking selfies on Instagram and trying to figure out who they'll go home with that night. Faces were illuminated by the glow of hundreds of smart phone screens.