A-Camp 6.0 Recamps Part Four: Don’t Believe Me Just Watch

Welcome to the A-Camp Family Band Show

drawing by Rory Midhani

drawing by Rory Midhani

Marni: The Family Band is my whole heart you guys, I just love it so much. Over the years we’ve gone from one rehearsal 30 minutes before the show at the first camp (which was played under full house lights) to now weeks of individual prep and then scheduled rehearsals and a full-on respectable stage and sound setup (thanks Carly and Grace!).

Stef: The Family Band concert is the best part of camp as far as I’m concerned, and this camp SO MUCH PREP went into making it our tightest show ever.

set list (photo by Taylor Hatmaker)

set list (photo by Taylor)

Marni: I can’t say enough about all the beautiful people who come together every year to make up our family. Stef and Alex, the tightest rhythm section around, held it down as always, and we had staffer Laura Mandanas on keys, camper Kristi on sax, and motherfucking Djuan Trent tearing it UP on vocals. Not to mention the DANCE CREW and our amazing musical guests Mal, Jenny and Julia who are now lifelong members.

Chelsey: The family band concert was THE BEST, not least of all because I finally got to be the A/V Club Intern! Grace even let me work the lights for a whole ten seconds.

Chelsey prepares for the show (photo by Taylor Hatmaker)

Chelsey prepares for the show (photo by Taylor)

Whitney: I love the family band. Marni is a rockstar. Stef is a bass wizard. Alex is an amazing drummer. Laura Mandanas rocks the keyboard.

Kai: By this time, I had danced all day — scratch that, ALL CAMP. And I was tired, people, like so tired. As soon as Uptown Funk hit, though, I knew this was the performance of our career. Plus, Carmen, Gigs and Rosemary were in turn-down-for-what mode. And for good reason because we basically broke the stage.

Gigler: UPTOWN FUNK was by far one of my favorite moments of camp, we had the Best time, from learning to rehearsing to the real deal, it was a beautiful mess that sprouted into a masterpiece.

Carmen: We had practiced for a few hours, stressed a few more, drank some liquor about it, etc. – but nothing prepared me for the adrenaline that then made it possible for us to do the entire thing perfectly in sync in front of shouting people and also Gabby laughing so hard right near me that I almost cracked up multiple times.

Gigler: I could never and will never get over the fact that Carmen was lip syncing to Marni’s voice, I think it’s the funniest thing that ever happened. I tried to keep a cool unbothered mug but I was geeekin and my internal monologue the whole time was like “THIS IS SO FUCKING FUN WE ARE TOO HOT HOT DAMN THERE’S A MF SAXOPHONE OVER HERE”.  I can’t say enough about having a sax player in our jamily band. Thank you Kristi!

Stef: We were so lucky that she offered to play sax with us, which brought a bunch of the songs to the next fucking level.

Peak A-Camp

Peak A-Camp (Photo by Taylor)

Carmen: Whatever, it was NBD. It’s not like I’ve peaked or anything.

Rory: It was the best thing I have ever seen. Hot damn.

Stef: Nothing will ever top Carmen Fucking Rios as Bruno Mars, with the babely A-Camp Dance Team behind her (and I will never be done unpacking my complicated feelings for the entire dance team).

Trent: I was losing my mind a little bit like, “Woah! Does no one else understand what is happening right now… Carmen IS Bruno Mars! Like, “Who is Bruno Mars? I’ll take Carmen for $500, Alex!” Duh! The dancers killed it! Marni… once again, bringing all the soul! Alex fucking it up on the drums like the boss that she is! Stef in that fucking cape on that fucking bass, YES MA’AM.

KaeLyn: I never really liked the song (don’t judge me), but now I love it because every time I hear it on Hits 1 I imagine Carmen is right there in the car with me in her Bruno drag and my heart grows three sizes. True story: it came on the other day and I just have had a goofy look on my face because Waffle looked at me and said, “You’re imagining Carmen, aren’t you?”

Kai: Here’s a little behind the scenes action: As soon as we disappeared behind the wall, I full on collapsed in a chair for breathing purposes and Cee was all – Are you ok? – but it’s fine cuz I’m alive now. The next thing I heard was Trent! Trent! Trent! and I would’ve yelled too but I was busy saving my life with water.

Gigler: Then Djuan came on and blew all our wigs right off the mountain.

TRENT (by Taylor)

TRENT (by Taylor)

Carolyn Wysinger: Doing the “Tightrope” dance with campers — well, two campers in the aisle while Trent sang — was the damn best.

Stef: Marni crushed it as always and Trent owned the stage from the first second.

KaeLyn: Trent. Trent. Trent. Trent. Everyone was great, but Trent’s “Tightrope” performance was the highlight for me. I think Trent should be the spokesperson for the Selfie Stick because she sold us all.

Mey: Oh my gosh, Trent was like, pure heaven. A few days earlier, a bunch of us on staff were hanging outside of Eagle when the band was practicing and we heard Trent and were like, woah, what is this magical sound? And then she was even more amazing on the night of the actual concert!

Trent: I would just like to say… if I don’t get invited back to A-Camp for anything else ever in my life, can I please always be invited back for Family Band?! This was the best thing! I freaking loved it so much!!! I was so nervous, but everyone’s energy was so great, we had no choice but to have a good time!

Stef: Guys, that song is super fast and not easy to play at all, but by that point I was bulletproof (Bulleit proof?) and nothing could stop me. I’ve never had more fun doing anything in my whole life. We’ve never been able to pull of drum solos and dance breakdowns before, but Trent’s energy was just infectious. I don’t think Alex Vega gets enough credit for being a fucking brilliant drummer, the backbone of the whole thing, and I can’t say enough about the talented AV team who gave us the smoke machine and light show of our dreams.

Yvonne: I wanted to give Trent like 10 standing ovations but we were already standing and going wild for her.

Rachel: I can’t wait to wait in line for days to get tickets to Trent’s nationwide arena tour. I’m gonna buy so much merch.


TRENT TRENT TRENT (photo by Taylor)

Laura W: Trent as Janelle Monae! Carmen as Bruno Mars! Marni as Marni! Videos just don’t do this night justice.

Whitney: Trent performed the most amazing cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” I have ever, ever heard. And on top of these amazing humans performing the most amazing music, there was Mal, Jenny and Julia adding so much good energy to the mix.

Whitney: Stef on bass is AMAZING. She rocked the bass riff for “Tightrope” so hard—she is magic. Her cape is magic. She is bassmagic.

Ali: After much water, I was sober enough to scream like a teenager when Jenny Owen Youngs and Mal Blum sang “Shake it Off.” That’s my jam, and if there had been room I would have done aerobics.

Whitney: “Shake It Off” was performed by a raucous and high-energy Jenny Owen Youngs, which I sung along to with abandon.


Trent: Mal Blum, how do you keep it so cool in a gold blazer, though??? Julia bringing all the sexy back! And Jenny with all the energy and fun and spunk. I love you all and I’ll give you babies if you want… but you’ll have to pay. Just sayin’.

(photo by Norah Smith)

(photo by Norah Smith)

Stef: I was thrilled to perform “Torn” with Mal, “Lovefool” with Julia and “Shake It Off” with Jenny. I had been sort of intimidated to perform with Jenny and Julia cos they were both new and both like, musicians of note, but they were both such goofballs and so much fun to work with and just killed on stage. Our guest vocalists were all so incredibly top notch this camp and I felt so fucking fortunate to have a chance to play with these talented humans.

Riese: It was like a guilty pleasure playlist performed by people who I feel no guilt about ADORING.

KaeLyn: Also respect to Laura Mandanas, who was on keys and who very quietly slipped in and out during the set. I don’t know if anyone saw her there, but she was THERE and she was fantastic.

Morgan: They played, I still can’t believe it, they played “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, which is a song I love for many reasons chief of which is because it is about my home, Raleigh, North Carolina. I danced wildly with the lovely pink-haired Rachel B. and that meant so damn much to me to bring a little of the South to camp. (Something Trent and I have so much desire to do more of. #southerngirls)

Marni (photo by Norah Smith)

Marni sings (photo by Norah Smith)

Whitney: Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” always gets me in my heart and this cover made me feel feels I didn’t know I even had.

Carolyn W: After that I felt the urge to grab the tambourine from Alex and start singing a hymn. Alex promised next year I can lol.

Marni: My dad was so happy to see me playing his old banjo!

Stef: Also I got to wear a dress with a print of cats at a movie theatre on it, and I’m not sure I can ever top that. After the show, I decided I’d peaked and wisely put myself to bed.

Dannielle: Everyone had such a fucking blast and it was so fun to be a part of and to watch. Well done, Family Band. I wanna help so much more next time. I’m so good at arranging mashups and harmonies and rapping. TAKE ME FAMILY BAND. TAKE ME.

Kristin: Nothing better than this concert has ever happened. EVER. I saw Boyz II Men in 1994 and this was FORTY THOUSAND TIMES BETTER. Carmen was fucking Bruno Mars. Jenny was some sort of Blink 182-Taylor Swift mashup. Julia used her sexy shoulders to set the camp on fire. MAL WORE A GOLD SHRUG. Also, Trent, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I have never seen anything better than this in my entire life ever.

All-Star Team

All-Star Team

Laneia: WAIT KRISTIN I saw Boyz II Men in 1994 too! I agree this was better than that.

Riese: I AM SO JEALOUS OF BOTH OF YOU. But damn this show was good. The band, the A/V Club, the dancers, THE AUDIENCE. I honestly truly just can’t believe I have such good friends.

Elicia: Omigod the concert!  THE CONCERT.  A-Camp Family Band! Gigler! Kai! Trent! Julia! Alex! Stef! Mal! Jenny! MARNI! UPTOWN FUNK.  I don’t have the words to fully express how great you all are and the joy you add to my living time on Earth. It’s too much to say.

Jenny and Mal

Jenny and Mal (photo by Taylor)

Gigler: That was a damn good show, that was a damn concert, yinz shoulda handed out tickets and wrist-bands and sold some patches and shit. I was in rehearsals and I still wasn’t ready.

Marni: I’ve never had more fun playing a show in my whole gosh darn LIFE. My whole life!

Carly: This was the most labor-intensive day for the A-Camp A/V Club because we had to take the setup in Eagle and take it apart to set up everything for the state fair. Then we had to put it back together for the A-Camp Family Band performance. Finally we had to take everything apart again to set up for the dance. So it’s a lot. But it’s worth it, because the A-Camp Family Band was spectacular! Trent, you are amazing. Please come to camp forever.

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2954 articles for us.


  1. Reading this and all I can ask is what did I even do that day?!? Because I remember getting a (adorable!) tattoo from Rory but then, ?????? No idea?
    Goal for this camp: attend everything.


    2. Yes. I took one bite of the rice burger and ate a hot dog for the first time in maybe 15 years.

    3. Sadly I did not participate in a Harry Potter debate but I am proud to throw my hat in Heather's ring: Snape is the worst! (Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall are the best.)

    4. That picture of the Beehive is in my wallpaper rotation, and every time it comes up I close all my tabs and gaze at it with starry cartoon eyes and sigh wistfully and happily.

  3. TENDERGANG. Somebody remind me to make that a patch.

    I am marginally disappointed that nobody mentioned the inevitability of the Singled Out part where Casey was onstage and answered the question and everybody else walked off and ONLY FELLOW OUTSIDERS WERE LEFT STANDING because obviously our love and friendship is as inevitable as The Stars aligning a camp return next/this year.

      • Can there be a portion where it is duly noted that he loved a woman he pushed away, couldn’t have, loved from afar that married a jerk then spent life and how as queer lady loving folks we may or may not sorta relate to that?

        If so fan-art away some wail-crying

      • He was kinda put in the hate group by a magic hat? Because his abusive father was in the hate group? And the only person who seemed to like him even though he was in the hate group dumped him for his own school bully. Snape just really wasn’t a fun person to be, is what I’m saying

      • INCORRECT!

        Because you still have to be a friend in order to be friendzoned. :D

        Also empathy =/= sympathy

        I do not give much sympathy because he had choices, just as I had choices. But some people need the approval of others, they have a need to belong and that is how people are recruited for terrible things. How people end up and stay abusive relationships too. That fundamental human need for pack and approval.
        It is a great strength of hominids, but also a very exploitable weakness.

        • Yeah I meant Death Eaters

          Altho in retrospect I can’t really remember if he was in that or not

          I can empathize with p much everybody but shit circumstances are NO EXCUSE for being MEAN and generally just rude to children

          I don’t think house slytherin is evil but I do think it’s underground situation would bum me out a lot

          IDK, I stopped at book five because of that opening dream sequence / everyone in my life telling me I’m Luna Love good when I’m a snarky asshat and Luna Love good is too pure for this world

          and only finished the series a few years ago just because I felt like I ought to?

          And I was p disillusioned about every adult in Harrys life by the end

          But esp Snape and Dumbledore

  4. Omg you guys I always get so many feeling about Camp when I see the re camps.

    I always have this feeling of wanting to come home. Of just wanting to be at home and knowing the people you’re with there ARE your family. Like Ive only seen these people what like 2x in my whole life and I consider them to be my lesbros and seesters and just my family.

    I remember my first A Camp..my first thought when I got on the mountain was IM HOME.

  5. Just re-read everything. Got teary eyed especially with camper words at the end. YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. CAMP. OMG.

    I remember the State Fair. I remember Robin getting really concerned about me in the bounce house with @kadryd and those huge ass boxing gloves. I mean if the nurse gets injured then what.. LOL Also I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT @heatherannehogan has footage of kadry and I duking it out in that bounce house! YOU GUYS IT WAS ALL THAT AND MORE.

    OMG. CAMP. The first thing I did when I got home was unpack and download all the songs from A Camp Family Band night. I’ve listened to wagon wheel so much in the past year you guys. All the vids I have from that night are on my youtube page just FYI. And I THINK I have the vid of the pie eating contest. =p

  6. The whole creation and experience of camp sounds so damn beautiful and it’s just amazing that ‘Straddle have made the initial vision into a reality. No luck in going as of yet but my teeny queer heart knows I’ll get to come annoy you guys in person someday. Thank you for existing!!!

  7. “As it turned out, I was pretty impressed by the lengths campers were willing to go to, particularly Mo Ucros, who dove directly into the tub and pretty much swam to the bottom before emerging triumphantly with a nectarine in their teeth.”


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