Written by IntuiSean, Biggie Shmalls, Satellite Man, and Grandose
Word of Camp Bisco has spread like wildfire throughout the northeast over the past few years, and during this time the festival underwent a drastic transformation as it has constantly expanded and reinvented itself to fit its increasingly-high demand. In its 12th year of operation and 7th year at its current location at Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY, the change and growth couldn’t be more apparent.
The adventure of getting to a festival is filled with mixed emotions of excitement and stress from getting through the gates, finding a good site, and getting all your gear and assorted campsite rage accouterments set up. Following a week of torrential downpours and overall damp weather, conditions were a bit sloppy, causing some serious traffic getting into and around the festival grounds. Also, the layout of the festival changed drastically from previous years – all of the stages were located in what used to be the main stage area and camping area. This made for easier travel while show hopping during the festival but on the down side created areas where music from two stages could be heard at once. Everywhere else became camping areas to accommodate the higher attendance.
We collectively have some strong opinions on the changes that the festival underwent this year, and we believe our opinions also represent the views of the majority of long-time Camp attendees. But before we get into the nitty gritty, let us start by highlighting some of our favorite musical acts of the festival.
Thursday began with a bang, tickling our nostalgic jam band fancy with an epic Umphrey‘s McGee > STS9 > Biscuits trifecta on the dual main stages. For real, when’s the last time anyone saw all three bands play together back to back like that? And when do you suppose the next time will be? This was a seriously special block of time for all jam band faithfuls in attendance. Sound Tribe accented the transition from day to night perfectly. They found their groove as the darkness settled, backlit by their Mayan pyramid projection setup and an overwhelming array of lights, and delivered high energy versions of old classics like “Abcees” and “Inspire” that stood out on the first night of the festival.
The magic continued into the night with a banging late night lineup that went something like Com Truise > Boys Noize > Squarepusher. Com Truise proved to be a highlight of the weekend, blowing us away with his unique style of retro yet forward-thinking intelligent dance music. Immediately following, Boys Noize kept the party going with some high-intensity electro-house. After a few hours of bouncing around the dance tents, our energy reached a crescendo as we arrived at the Label Tent for Squarepusher.
Squarepusher’s music is more of an intellectual journey rather than a dance party, which halted the upward energy momentum without allowing it to fade – like prolonging the feeling just before climax… For an hour… Plus lasers. Just when we thought the performance couldn’t get any better, the man pulled out his bass guitar and RIPPED the zaniest, disjunct bass lines, knocking us all on our asses. Looking around, one could actually see the “I don’t get it” look on many faces. With no melody to follow, or beat with which to bounce, I can see why one wouldn’t get “experimental noise.” Regardless, for those of us who did “get it,” the experience proved one not to be forgotten.
Govinda kicked off our Friday afternoon in the Label Tent. After throwing down a couple of his signature tracks like “Universal on Switch” and “My Secret Room” his next selection made it quite clear that he was catering this set for the Camp Bisco crowd. We couldn’t help but look at each other a bit confused when he dropped “In For The Kill” by La Roux, but there is no denying it got the crowd hyped! See a clip from his set here…
Eskmo‘s Friday evening set really stood out from others this weekend. Wolfgang Gartner drew the majority of attendees to the main stage at this time, leaving a surplus of dancing room for the sounds of Brandon Angelides. After seeing Eskmo a few times, many of us initially hoped for a Welder set, his alter-ego, thinking we’d seen all Eskmo had to offer. It didn’t take long for him to blow our collective mind, yet again. He started out looping his own vocals with a “Camp Bisco” chant weaved into his track “We Got More.” He then progressed to a multitude of live loopings, creating sounds from the most obscure origins the mind can fathom. A 3 foot lead pipe, the bottom of a broken garbage can, and the back end of a shovel were just some of the tools he pulled out of his bag of tricks. The way he artistically integrated these organic sounds into his set was astounding to say the least. Most of the faces leaving the BIG Tent afterwards had their jaws dropped to the floor, earning him our accolade for “What the Faux!!?!” set of the weekend.
Over the years, Bassnectar has become the resident Biscuits set break headlining act. This is at least his sixth year playing the festival, where he started out playing one of the small dance tents. Due simply to the number of #plur kiddies in attendance this year and how aggro they can get at a Bassnectar show, we were all a little hesitant to check out his set Friday night. To avoid flying elbows and scissor kicks we posted up side stage, and like usual Lorin blew us away. His sets are consistently some of the more high-energy, rowdy ones we’ve ever seen, and he always switches up his style year to year, incorporating a medley of genres from latin to jazz, and from to electro to hip-hop and beyond. This year, of course, he squeezed in plenty of trap. Every rage stick and piece of costume regalia was in full effect for this one. Definitely a quality set from Lorin, erasing our memory of last year’s technical difficulties.
We rallied bright and early Saturday afternoon to catch our homies the Indobox at the main stage, only to discover that our mud troubles weren’t over yet. The soggy grounds and heavy bass caused one side of the stage to sink six inches over night, creating a production fiasco that took hours to remedy. Unfortunately this meant that the first three acts of the day, Indobox, Zoogma and Free Energy, had to cancel and the rest of the day’s schedule was rearranged. As Boombox closed out the festival, they graciously ended their set early to give Zoogma a chance to play. And word on the street is Indobox played a wild late night set in the VIP area. In spite of the technical difficulties, the show did in fact go on, and praise must be given to the production team for handling the situation as seamlessly as possible, given the circumstances.
Camp Bisco can be counted on to book some of the hottest underground international acts in the scene, in essence balancing out the mainstream acts, so that there’s a little something for everyone. This year the legendary LTJ Bukem‘s sunny Saturday afternoon set in the BIG Tent provided us with a much needed drum ‘n’ bass fix. At the time, many festival goers were knee-deep in the Biscuits daytime set and missed out. For those of us who managed to tear ourselves away from the Biscuits and make it to the dance tent, we were rewarded for our efforts with a jazzy, atmospheric, hour-long DnB sesh and plenty of space to bust out some of those extra special dance moves.
For many, The Disco Biscuits have always been one of the highlights of Camp Bisco. Now more than ever, Camp Bisco has become one of if not the only chance for many Biscuits faithfuls to get their yearly fix. It came as no surprise that an extra level of practice and attention to song selection detail went into the band’s six sets this year, but the crowd reaction was above and beyond anything we’ve seen in our many years at Camp. As the stature of acts that grace the main stages at Indian Lookout Country Club grows yearly, The Disco Biscuits have fought to maintain the attention of their dedicated fan base. Those fans are willing to pay the steep ticket price for a weekend of music, much of which they may forgo just to catch that special moment orchestrated by the Biscuits and their production crew. The Biscuits are known for stepping up their visual stimulation game come festival time. The now well known Bisco lasers, which have become a mainstay in the band’s performance at this point, pull festival attendees to the main stage like bugs to a zap light, and set the perfect mood for a trance-fusion dance party. All set list jargon aside, Brownie, Magner, Barber, and Allen delivered 6 sets of exactly that: a trance-fusion dance party that only the melded minds of these particular four musicians and their instruments can produce. Listening to the chatter after the weekend subsided, it was easy to tell who stole the whole show. Naturally, the band that started it all.
As the madness slowly came to a close and we had a moment to breathe, the overwhelming thought of the weekend was what Camp had become over the years: A symbol of EDM’s growth and transformation in this country. What seems like just a few years ago, Camp Bisco was the Disco Biscuits’ unknown grassroots homegrown festival with a few thousand friends partying for the weekend. Now it’s one of, if not the largest electronic music festivals in the Northeast, selling out consecutive years with an attendance that’s grown to over 20,000.
Due to, we assume, the massive increase in attendees, security at the festival increased exponentially compared to just the previous couple of years. With gates blocking off every field, pathway, and stage, and multiple security checkpoints, we couldn’t help feeling like sheep being corralled from one area to the next. Guards meticulously inspected every crevice of your person and your belongings at every checkpoint, where large signs were posted, listing all the things we could not do or bring, such as “NO oversized bags, NO alcohol, NO food or drinks, NO… Stuffed animals???!” Hired security (which, due to their unattractive red collared polo uniforms we’ve taken to calling the ‘Red Coats’ – perfectly fitting to their tyrannical attitude), replaced the resident bikers, and these new guys didn’t have their heart in it the way the bikers did. Multiple times throughout the weekend we found ourselves actually missing the bikers and their gruff, unwelcoming demeanors and unorthodox methods of patrolling the festival. Let’s be honest, the bikers may have been assholes, but they were OUR assholes.
Furthermore, as in recent years, the average age of attendees seemed to have trended downwards, along with the maturity level. Because of this, instances of uninformed drug and alcohol use and abuse were more common than your average festival. Also, you couldn’t walk ten feet without bumping into a bro or brodette wearing a neon shirt or hat with some horrifyingly ignorant and trashy phrase on it in big block letters. We often found ourselves feeling a little like “grown ups” intruding on “teeny bopper’s first festival.”
Despite these unfortunate truths, we believe the time you have at any festival is solely dependent on what you make of it. Year after year, Bisco attracts some of the most colorful, quirky, hilarious individuals around. A ticket pays for itself in people watching alone, and the rage sticks and camp site decco are always on that next level. Even though conditions may have been more difficult this year than years past, we were able to find the hidden gem sets and have a blast with great friends, old and new. We give it up to all of you that were able to make the best out of your weekend, rage responsibly, and most importantly – Use Your Head!