And then there’s utter Euforia

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JULY 16, 2009 7:15 AM

Didn’t make it to Summer Camp and couldn’t raise the funds for Bonaroo? Well, there’s still a chance to catch a summer festival this year without having to deal with heavy traffic or breaking out the credit card.

Camp Euforia will begin at Jerry’s Farm near Lone Tree at 4 p.m. Friday and last through Saturday night. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 at the door.

The lineup comprises Samba Nosso, Dead Larry, the Uniphonics, Public Property, Euforquestra, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Heatbox, Insectoid, Jim and Mary Grosso, the Awful Purdies, Hunab, the Gglitch, Maximillian Eubank, Bumpus, Mr. Baber’s Neighbors, Cornmeal, Natty Nation, Rubblebucket Orchestra, We Funk, and Battle of the Bands winners Five in a Hand and Nifty Mountain PowWow.

Camp Euforia, which is run by Iowa City band Euforquestra, provides a chance for local bands to participate in a professional two-day festival. Adding an aspect of competition to the event, the Battle of the Bands, held at the Yacht Club every year, allows lesser-known local bands to vie for a spot on the Main Stage.

“We’re very excited,” said AJ Wessling, the bass player for Five in a Hand. “At the beginning of the year, none of this was expected really at all. We were a joke band, just hanging out, having fun. Then fans just started coming. We had played with a few good bands already, and then we beat out some just really awesome Iowa City bands that I totally respect.”

The event began in 2003 with the terrible planning of Euforquestra’s Fan Appreciation Party, and it has since mushroomed into a two-day, two-stage blowout.

Six years ago, Euforquestra prepared to give thanks to its fans and the Iowa City music scene by putting on a show with complimentary camping, food, parking, and beer. The band members got numerous acts lined up for the show and all the beer provided for free by the Yacht Club. The shebang was very well planned — with one exception: the location.

There was none.

Mike Tallman, the guitarist for Euforquestra, knew the guys in Iowa City’s the Gglitch, and he told them about Euforquestra’s unfortunate situation. Luckily, three of the members of the Gglitch lived on a place with ample space and a gracious landlord.

“They used to rehearse out at this house that Jerry Hotz owned, and he got to be friends with them,” Tallman said. “He hung out at their practices and listened to them play and all that.”

At the suggestion of the Gglitch members, Tallman went to meet Hotz.

“I went out, and he showed me the farm, and I thought, ‘Well, we could put a stage here, we could park people here, we could camp people here,’ ” he said. “And he basically agreed to do it on the spot. Then he came and saw Euforquestra play for the first time, like, two weeks later — we could have been a death-metal band for all he knew.”

Tallman said this year’s festival holds the most musical potential yet with an extensive local lineup as well as several out-of-state bands. It seems that Camp Euforia is beginning to grow out of its small-time, local roots, but he said it is a controlled growth.

“We’re probably going to cap it,” he said. “We don’t want it to grow into one of those huge, 10,000-people festivals. We’re going to still keep it low-key and community-oriented.”

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