Summer Set 2012: Wisco Disco
- By Nick Rhodes
- Published on August 14, 2012
With the East Coast, Midwest, California and Colorado monopolizing major music events, multi-day road trips or expensive flights are not uncommon for much of the country’s passionate festivalgoers.
So it’s refreshing to see an event with a stellar lineup pop up in an often-overlooked locale.
Taking place August 24 to 26 in Somerset, Wisconsin, the inaugural Summer Set festival has some big-time names like Pretty Lights, Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Lotus and a rare performance from Black Star, a duo made up of Mos Def and Talib Kwali, set to take the stage.
[FIND complete lineup, ticketing information and more on the festival's official website.]
Bringing a diverse and eclectic lineup with heavy-hitters from the electronica, jam, hip-hop, indie and reagge worlds, the festival boasts a fan-friendly schedule and activities beyond the music to keep you engaged all day and night.
We caught up with festival partner Jack Trash to discuss the impetus for creating the event, how they managed to get Black Star on the bill and what it means to bring the event to Wisco.
Headstash Magazine: Talk about Summer Set and what the impetus was for organizing the event.
Jack Trash: React Presents and I started having conversations a little over a year ago about the possibility of filling a festival void for specific genres in between Chicago and the Twin Cities.
One thing lead to another – a venue search led us to the Somerset Amphitheater, the Majestic Theatre guys joined the conversations and along came Summer Set.
The location fits a specific void that we saw in the festival circuit. The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin have various festivals already, but nothing that really fits the niche that we’ve targeted at the level we’ve targeted.
HM: For those of us unfamiliar with that part of the country, is the weather in late August in Wisconsin favorable?
JT: Weather is always a variable for outdoor festivals. The weather in late August in Wisconsin is generally warmer, and can still be hot. We’ll be prepared for a variety of weather experiences, including the extremes.
HM: What sets Summer Set apart from other events?
JT: We wanted Summer Set to reflect a diverse musical and camping experience. We wanted to see a cool mixture of bands, EDM, hip-hop, reggae – a collection of music that we felt had crossover appeal among listeners.
The camping experience itself also sets Summer Set apart. Yes, there are other camping festivals, but ours is developed in a niche location with the Apple River and tubing experiences right across the street from the venue.
HM: This lineup is stacked from top to bottom, tell me a little about what you were going for when you guys got it together.
JT: One of the great things about our lineup is the diversity not just in musical style, but also the artist profiles of our acts. Everyone already knows names like Pretty Lights, Nas and Umphrey’s McGee, but our undercard features a wide range of artists that reflect our huge passion for music.
We have hot, newer acts like GRiZ, AraabMuzik, Timeflies, Cloud Cult and Mat Zo; staples of the music scene like Gabriel and Dresden, Lotus, Infected Mushroom and Zeds Dead; and sick regional talent like Prof, Steez and Sovereign Sect.
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There are so many performers that I myself want to see. It’s going to be almost crushing that I will surely miss many of them.
HM: Talk about getting Black Star to play the event – they don’t play too many shows nationally and it was a real surprise to see them on the initial lineup announcement.
JT: We were definitely excited to get Black Star on the bill. As you said, they really do not play much, and with their legendary status as hip-hop icons, the buzz on their involvement with our festival is warranted.
HM: What are the grounds like? Since most people haven’t been there, give us an idea of what we’re in for.
JT: There are two main camping areas on the grounds. South camping features traditional sites, and this will be the first area to be filled. We will have showers available to people at a small cost. North camping is a large and expansive rolling field. We’re designing festival entrances by both of these camping areas.
The main festival grounds feature a huge main stage, surrounding by a huge bowl area that is perfect for watching the music. There is a large flat area surrounding the stage itself, so there’s plenty of party room directly in front as well.
A second headliner stage will be located in a hockey arena right next to the main stage. We are decking this area out with insane LED, lighting and visual technology, plus a sound rig that will blow you away. Huge arching ceilings will help set the stage for a party that will go in the wee hours of the morning.
HM: What are the challenges of organizing a first-year festival?
JT: Establishing a foothold in the festival circuit the first year is one of the biggest challenges. Fortunately, with the partners involved and the experiences we all bring to the table, we feel we‘ve done a pretty good job getting the first foot down.
[FIND complete lineups, ticketing information and analysis of all your favorite festivals via our 2012 Festival Guide.]
The festival experiences the React crew brings to the table (Spring Awakening and North Coast Music Festival) have definitely helped a lot.
One of the other big challenges has simply been the “unknown.” We knew people would be excited about Pretty Lights, but sending out certain offers for talent and not being able to gauge exact interested was a bit scary. Not knowing how people would react to the location, the camping aspect, ticketing, etc. is a bit scary at times.
HM: Tickets were really reasonably priced considering all that’s involved with this event. Was that a point of emphasis?
JT: We definitely wanted to keep this festival as affordable as possible. With the economy being what it’s been, and the summer opportunities for fun and pleasure seemingly multiplying, we need to make sure people feel like they can fit Summer Set into their plans.
It’s a challenge making the numbers work with everything we have vested into the festival, but we really want to have as many people rocking out this inaugural year as possible.
The end of summer is right around the corner, and what better way to wrap it up than making a trip to Summer Set. We want this experience to be one that helps define what summer has been – and is – all about. We want to help people tie together their summer experiences into one last mega-jam. Be prepared for a magical musical journey.
Summer Set 2012 takes place August 24 to 26 in Somerset, Wisconsin and will feature Pretty Lights, Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Lotus, Black Star, Nas and many more. For more information, check out the festival’s official website and stay tuned to Headstash for coverage from the grounds.