As summer rolls on so does the season that now brings festivals at a staggering clip, and with them, most of us find ourselves talking music. There are festivals for nearly all palates and for its 10th year, Camp Bisco celebrated a decade of music with its annual 3 day music festival set in the hills of upstate New York. The festival founders, The Disco Biscuits, did not fail in supplying another immense weekend of musical fun for those whose taste buds are made most moist by the livetronica portion of the all-inclusive jam scene.
As the entrance line to the sold-out event backed up along the road that all anticipated but none ever want to wait in, the hula hoopers spent the time wisely – spinning and dancing in the street – as the bumper to bumper traffic slowly slithered along while anxious party people who couldn’t wait to get the 10th Anniversary Bisco revelry started began putting beers back before entering the gates… leaving a few unlucky hopeful participants with the local deputies and their K-9 partners serving as judges.
Upon entry, The New Dealbrought their A-game for their “last hurrah at Camp Bisco.” The high-energy trio had the large main stage crowd soaring as the sun settled.Â Witnessing the facial cues between the band mates showed their musicianship and camaraderie on stage, leaving many to continue to wonder why this established act will be no more.
But alas, there was more music to experience, so it was over to the GrooveShark Tent for Zoogma‘s southern fresh dance party.Â This up and coming band has been gaining fans at a rapid pace for the last few years, seemingly with every show they’ve played. Well-known for their multi-genre sound and colorful light show, Zoogma didn’t disappoint.Â All five musicians seamlessly played off each other, universally sharing the spotlight in true electro-jam fashion.
After a quick walk down the hill back to the main stage, The Disco Biscuitsstarted their first set, of a total of six, for the weekend.Â Bassist Marc Brownstein was obviously anxious to get the “biggest party ever” started if the grin on his face told the story.Â The rock-fusion quartet jumped right into their renowned fast paced jams with a set that was – more or less- one gigantic segue-fiasco that culminated and ended with a highly Aron Magner keyboard-infused “Helicopters” and included the trance-riddled “Spacebirdmatingcall.” Overall, the set provided an overtone of older material, with less emphasis on beats-per-minute and more on the rock and roll foundation of the Biscuits. “Look out below!”
After a short break following the introductory Biscuit madness to stop by the campsite to add clothing in an effort to become better prepared for the cooler upstate New York nights, it was off to one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend, that of laptop jockey extraordinaire Skrillex.
Never has there been a more fanatical crowd than there was at Camp for Skrillex. Security had their hands full with crowd surfing and non-stop crowd rushes. To say it was packed would be an understatement of gross proportions. Backstage, side stage and even on-stage were filled with shoulder to shoulder VIPs, CBX artists, dancers and groupies alike… all trying to witness a glimpse of the crowd phenom. Skrillex brought the dubstep/mash-up remixes with full force and had everyone singing word for word to his version of Ludacris’ “Move bitch, get out the way!”
Lotus was next up to close out the first night of Camp 10. The silky smooth jams flowed for fifteen minutes beyond their scheduled 70 minute set. The quartet of silhouettes among the lights and foggy smoke weaved perfectly into their well known mix of instrumental grooves that was highlighted by a “Bellwether” sandwich with the rarely played “Umbilical Moonset” serving as the proverbial meat.
There was a light precipitation pattering against the tents, but to the seasoned festival attendee, rain during a music fest can be a good thing for a variety of reasons: 1) it stands as the perfect antagonist to the heat, 2) it serves as an easily accessible shower to all with no line, and 3) most importantly, it keeps the dust at bay for the highly traveled dirt paths. Later in the night, this light pattering turned into a steady downpour creating a skating rink of slipperiness in the mud, causing many to hold onto fences for dear life.
Hearing sound checks from afar on Friday morning kept us guessing in regards to whether or not the shows were actually starting. The question would soon be answered as we approached the main stage around noon, hearing Indobox had their positive dance jams cranking a little ahead of schedule. The Boston 4-piece that hails from Beantown had a good sized crowd dancing and singing along for Friday’s first set with the band seeming to have an equally good time on stage, smiling and carrying on and thereby creating a seamless vibe translation between the sound makers and the consumers of the same.
Two side-by-side main stages kept the music going at an almost non-stop rate throughout the short weekend and as Indobox’s last notes concluded, Papadosiotook their turn and started running immediately. Using the balance of two keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, Papadosio created a unique futuristic funk that breathed well with the crowd of (mostly) electronica lovers. The crowd did its part to keep the funky atmosphere alive as well – with painted faces and full costumes making appearances throughout the day.
From funk, it was over to reggae and the delightful and positive liveliness was poured out from all eight of the Easy Star All-Stars members. Reggae music is perfect for the bright sunshine. The Easy Star All-stars put their dub-reggae twist on classic hits both old and new and was highlighted by various covers including Pink Floyd’s “Breathe,” The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” and Radiohead’s “Karma Police.”
Next up on the list was the highly anticipated Break Science show w/ RJD2.Â RJD2, aka “Commissioner Crotch Buttons,” led off with some tasters from his homemade spinner sampler belt. Shortly thereafter, he was joined by multi-instrumentalist Borham Lee and all around drummer extraordinaire Adam Deitch. The three took the crowd on a non-stop hand-pumping, hip-hop good time. Unfortunately, the rumors of an appearance of Redman were put to bed with big no-show by the well known rapper. Not to overshadow the magnitude of the Break Science show, it did come with a bittersweet ending as the crowd up roared with a wave of “boos” as the encore, with rapper CX, was cut off due to a lack of time.
Disco Biscuit side-project-turned-stand-alone-ensemble, Conspirator, was another highlight of the tenth rendition of Camp. If electronica could ever go stadium style, this would be the group to do it. Driving songs that build to peak and release with blistering speed and beats per minute, they definitely stunned the initiated masses, particularly with the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” that spun the crowd off into the night and into Shpongle.
For the first time in the States, Shpongle was joined with an entire live band that had everyone on the tip of their toes to witness this worldly spectacle. An anti-rain wish was not granted but nevertheless, the crowd raged on. A tropical hurricane wouldn’t have budged the audience from Shpongle’s main field stage set. Chanting, singing, flute playing and all around fun was felt from this manifestation. Members of the band were spread deep back on the stage to make room for visual appeal that consisted of worm dancers and body contortionists that managed to keep the undivided attention of the audience… quite the feat in this day and age when distraction is something to which is so easily succumbed.
The rain forced some of us under whatever we could find for shelter during the Biscuits’ second Camp set but those who didn’t mind the muddy wetness were certainly in for some soggy goodness. After watching the red lightning and listening from afar to the constant dance party that is the Disco Biscuits, we returned later to the dark field filled with lasers for the end of the show.
Serving as Biscuit-intermission, Ratatat took the dark stage next with a colossal projector screen and two side panels that let the masses watch the birds and whatnot. Meanwhile the duo roamed the stage programming beats, soloing guitars and beating drums in the simplistic manner of music that is Ratatat.
Seamlessly, the Biscuits retook their stage immediately as Ratatat wrapped and the lasers were again firing with full force; the rain soaked smoke-filled air providing a perfect mix for the bright multi-colored lasers to reach far into the crowd for this second night of Camp BiscoX.Â The Disco Biscuits showed off their endurance well with this Friday night double header, but moreover staked their claim as hosts to this party of gigantic proportions.
As the Biscuits wrapped, it seemed that everyone migrated to the GrooveShark Tent with a crowd chanting “MSTRKRFT, MSTRKRFT…”Â In return, the duo proceeded to give the throng exactly what they wanted: a high energy dance party with a lightshow to match that bumped well into Saturday morning.
The last day of the event started with a warm drying of the Friday mushfest.Â Saturday’s vibe began with some old school funk mix-ups from DJ KRAZ (Soulive’s Eric Krasno).Â You know it’s a well planned music event when the last day has got soul to send everyone on their way with a great feeling, an emotion was continued with a clear, middle of the day Disco Biscuits set followed by the powerful funk of Lettuce that came with eyes-closed-jams at a staggering rate and left the crowds pleading for more.
It became clear that the Disco Biscuits had been running a set-up on the crowd for the entire weekend but became most evident during the aforementioned set one (of three) when the Â familiar subtle notes of “Rockafella” came. It was immediately known that the final day would be a journey of orchestrated execution and buildup. An inverted offering of “Confrontation” and the set closing “World is Spinning” only confirmed this.
“M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” began the liftoff in the second set and those who had hung around for the hosts’ blowout were soon treated to a reminder of exactly why the Disco Biscuits reign supreme in their musical side of the world and Â why many fell for the band so long ago.
After a chaotic and inverted “Waves” and the set closing “Highwire” the crash landing had happened and what came in the third and final set was exactly was needed… a journey home.
The latter came to fruition with an inverted atmospheric “Digital Buddha” that saw musical and fan-released fireworks launched as Aron Magner and guitarist Jon Gutwillig exchanged gently glancing blows that yielded to Brownstein and drummer Allen Aucoin’s sealing of the deal with a foundation that allowed Magner and Gutwillig to have free reign on the field. Sound complicated? Well, they did it with flawless ease. It was improvisation at its finest. It was the Disco Biscuits.
Leaving the festival whether you were stuck in the mud Â or stuck in party mode, the reality set in that all good things must come to an end,Â leaving us all stuck thinking…Â What is next for Camp Bisco?Â Few festivals have reached the 10 year mark. This Camp made a historical step this year. The evolution of the line up throughout the past decade has seen notable legends such as Snoop Dogg all the way to the worldly sound of Thievery Corporation. This all can only leave one to imagine what next year will bring.
One thing that was not questioned was whether The Disco Biscuits, the namesake of the festival, created another great party. It was party in its finest hour. Double high five Camp Bisco!
CLICK THE THUMBNAIL TO VIEW PHOTOS from The Fest By Clint Bliss & Monica Shillinglaw of SeeBliss …