They came, they saw, and they conquered. But only a handful of fans at the Saltpetre Cave heard the majestic melodies of…

By Gus Bode

Words and pictures by

Music fills the night air as dancers kick up the dirt beneath their shuffling feet. Red and blue lights bounce off the performers’ faces reflecting an aura symbolic of the symbiotic sounds interweaving through the crowd. The four journeymen wait impatiently as the band on stage raps up its set.

Friday night at the Shawnee Natural Amphitheatre, campers, ravers, family and friends united at the Saltpeter Cave to enjoy nature and all her beauty. A few lucky late night guests were treated to an exciting sample of an experimental-fusion jam band from Peoria, Ill, by the name of Elektryk Trybe.


Set to play at midnight, Elektryk Trybe arrived at the cave around 11 p.m., after driving five hours from Peoria, Ill. When they arrived, they found their set had been pushed back an hour. It’s not the first time the group has taken the abuse of a poorly planned line-up.

“We’ve shown up to places and were told we couldn’t even play.” James Paul, bass player for Elektryk Trybe, said as guitar player Roy Ponce bounced.

“I just want to jam,” Ponce, said.

The guitar-wielding Jake Schulz sat quietly in a chair against the cave wall, giving credit to Ponce for being the glue of the band.

“I’ve always been able to hear music and reproduce what I hear,” said Schulz. “But this dude (Ponce) got me into it.

Three hours after their arrival, Elektryk Trybe was ready to begin.

The air was still and cool, and the tired dancers began to head back to their refuges. But Ponce will have none of this. He ripped his axe through the dead air and his guitar screamed a Jimi Hendrix’s version of the “Star Spangle Banner” – shaking comatose campers out of their sleep.


It was 2 a.m. and the boys were ready to wake up the cave. Opening with an instrumental piece, they sent a swell of electronic funk vibrating off the cave walls.

While the size of the crowd was considerably smaller than earlier in the night, the cave dwellers were equally enthusiastic.

Ponce wailed on his guitar like he was the only person on stage. His body twisted and gyrated creating the illusion of a young Eric Clapton.

“I cannot see a thing,” said Ponce to the crowd. “There are lights left and right blinding me.”

The illuminating lights that caused temporary blindness in Ponce, created massive shadows that played on the cave wall.

Though the attendance was weakened by the time, the sound of the band was as strong as any band that night. With pounding blues riffs and screaming guitar solos, Elektryk Trybe played like they were in front of a full house.

In the heat of the moment, Ponce dropped to his knees and played a killer solo that could put any of today’s hottest rockers to shame.

After three hours of hypnotic melody and frenzied chords, Ponce jumped off the stage to see whom he’d been playing for.

“I was feelin’ it,” Ponce said after surveying the crowd. “That was tight.”

Though they claimed it would have been ten times better if there were more of an audience, because they “feed off the crowd,” the Elektryk Trybe proved themselves to be beyond their time, and a “jam band” who’s fans will no doubt expand outside of Peoria and beyond.