It’s been a tough few years for large-scale music festivals in the Twin Cities. Over the past 12 months in particular we’ve witnessed the cancelation or postponement of SoundTown, River’s Edge, and the First Avenue festival that was slated to debut this July. So the pressure’s on for Summer Set, the electronic and jam band-heavy camping festival at Somerset Amphitheater that just launched last year.
This morning, Summer Set unveiled its lineup for its second year, which organizers say will demonstrate whether the event has the legs to sustain itself over the long haul. But what does it take to succeed?
“We were very focused on not pigeonholing ourselves,” says Matt Gerding, who owns the Majestic Theatre in Madison in addition to producing Summer Set. “Clearly the lineup definitely skews toward electronic and jam bands, but we wanted to have a real diverse array of artists, and we think that people, particularly in the Twin Cities, kind of pride themselves on having very diverse tastes in music.”
Festival co-producer Jack Trash, who also operates the Sound in Motion booking and promotions company here in the Twin Cities, says the lack of other similar festivals in the area helped them to book a broader lineup.
“Last year, we were trying to respect SoundTown. Because of a lot of the indie they had in their lineup, we really focused on the EDM and the jam band and hip hop,” he says. “With that out of the picture, and Live Nation out the picture, it’s freed us up more to build on the lineup. Having stuff like Girl Talk and Passion Pit and some more of the local stuff like 4onthefloor, it’s really—this year is a step up for us, we feel. And we hope the community feels the same way.”
Trash also pointed out that Summer Set was conceptualized and produced by three companies that were founded by musicians and die-hard music fans—Twin Cities-based Sound in Motion, Madison’s Majestic, and Chicago’s React Presents—and that their shared rolodex of contacts helped them to hit the ground running.
“I think that what really is a huge advantage to our festival is that the three partners involved here, we all are hugely passionate music fans,” he says. “I mean, last year was something special. It was amazing. It was really a lifelong dream for me to see all this music come together in this town the way it did, and all the people, and all the different energy levels. And it was an immense amount of work—I mean it was insane. But I’m moving forward this year because I believe it’s going to be really awesome and exciting, and I believe that last year was an investment phase, that we can move forward financially and turn this into something really fun and really successful.”
Three-day passes and camping are on sale starting at 10 a.m. today. Head to SummerSetFestival.com for more info, pricing, and to purchase tickets.