Bad news/good news for the second annual Summer Set Music & Camping Festival: The dance parties in the silver-insulated hockey rink are no more this year, a victim of the fest’s somewhat surprising success. But organizers have something else big in store.
“Last year, the hockey arena was at capacity by about 4 o’clock on Friday,” explained Jack Trash, the veteran DJ and event promoter whose company SIMshows co-produces Summer Set. “I think people are going to like what we have to offer this year even better.”
Scheduled again Friday through Sunday at Somerset Amphitheater in Somerset, Wis. — ask your metalhead uncle if you don’t know where it is, kids — Summer Set looked like the mutt in last year’s dog race against the River’s Edge and SoundTown festivals, with its seemingly disparate patchwork of electronic dance music, classic hip-hop and jam-band rock. Lo and behold, Summer Set drew upwards of 10,000 fans daily and is the only fest of the three still standing.
Last year, nobody stood still at Summer Set. If the mostly under-25 crowd wasn’t dancing to the entirely groove-based music (no ballads or drone sets here) it was moving on to the next stage. The most notable of those stages — the hockey rink — has been traded for a giant, hi-fi dance tent going up in a small valley set off from the amphitheater near the campgrounds. Capacity will be about twice that of the rink.
Organizers say the dance music lineup is about twice as good as last year, too, a result of 2012 online polling that suggested fans wanted more.
“We learned a lot off last year,” Trash said. “I really think everybody had a good time, but they’re going to see improvements that will make it an even better time.”
They’re going to see more than just dance music, too. Here are the day-by-day highlights of the lineup, with dozens more performing each day.
Literally back by popular demand, Denver-based sax-and-drums duo Big Gigantic (10:30 p.m.) perfectly embodies Summer Set’s acidic dance-party/rock-fest aesthetic. OutKast rapper Big Boi (9 p.m.) has been consistently stellar in recent local shows and can claim more hits than anyone at the fest (“The Way You Move,” “So Fresh, So Clean”). Throb-rock Minneapolitans Poliça (7:30) have been all over the festival circuit this year, including Coachella. Reggae legends the Wailers (6 p.m.), led by Bob Marley’s bassist Aston Barrett, are a wild-card entry that should land a full house. Detroit wiz-kid dubstep star Griz (9:30) leads the dance stage along with Australian electro-house DJ Tommy Trash and Canadian dubstep duo Adventure Club. And don’t forget the amphitheater’s new saloon, where local happy hippie kids Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles play at 8:30.
As Jack Trash pointed out, the trifecta main-stage lineup of Girl Talk, Passion Pit and Zedd “is as big as this thing gets.” Pittsburgh mash-up pioneer Girl Talk (10:30) has led some of First Avenue’s wildest dance parties. Boston’s whiny digi-pop band Passion Pit (9 p.m.) racked up massive digital sales and Taco Bell commercials with its second album, “Gossamer.” German producer Zedd (7:30) is going mainstream with his single “Clarity” and production work on Lady Gaga’s next album. Hard to believe any of them will outshine Doomtree, though (6 p.m.). In one of the local hip-hop all-stars’ only shows of the year, they’re coolly paired with Bay Area indie-rap heroes Blackalicious (10 p.m.), the Chalice (1:30 p.m.) and Mally (7 p.m.). Other big dance names include California’s hip-hoppy deep-house star Wolfgang Gartner (9:30), M.I.A. and Radiohead remix specialist SBTRKT (8:30) and another Londoner, 24-year-old dubstepper Zomboy (7:30), plus after-party leaders EOTO (midnight).
Atlanta-reared headliner Sound Tribe Sector 9 (a k a STS9, 8:30) is one of the original pioneers of electronic jam-rock. Newcomer Krewella (7 p.m.) is a slick, KDWB-ready dubstep/pop trio starring two sisters from Chicago with a debut album for Columbia Records due next month. Dance-tent headliner Diplo (9 p.m.) is the madcap production wiz behind Major Lazer and hits by Beyoncé and M.I.A. On the hip-hop front, there’s one of rap’s all-time best live MCs, Common (5:30), Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus (7 p.m.) and a solo turn by Dessa of Doomtree (4 p.m.). Other locals include low-bottom rockers the 4onthefloor, high-energy string pickers Pert Near Sandstone (6:30) and beatmaker/producer Big Cats! (5 p.m.).