Camp Bisco 11
08 Aug 2012

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I’ve been having a hard time writing about my Camp Bisco experience because…well frankly I don’t wanna talk shit on my favorite band’s festival- a festival they have nurtured, loved, and headlined for the past 11 years.  I also can’t say I had a bad time at Camp Bisco- I had fun, I got to kick it with homies I hadn’t seen in a long time, I got to see the Disco Biscuits 6 times in 6 very scattered, non-cohesive time slots, and I got to ride a ferris wheel during a sunrise.  But for me, Camp was also missing many elements that could have made it a much more remarkable festival.  And it’s questionable if the Disco Biscuits are even headliners of their own festival when two thirds of the crowd files out of the mainstage field right after Bassnectar.  Sorry but I don’t wanna deal with that shit!  I fucking love the Disco Biscuits, and I don’t like to see them disrespected like that.  Plus, brostep and all the other weird shit going on with bass music right now is just not good.  Camp Bisco 11 was not made for Biscuits fans, or even for hippies.  It was made for Bassheads and ravers; call me old fashioned, I was not ready for this change.

At least I got these cool socks

Camp Bisco has set out to be one of the biggest electronic music festivals on the East Coast.  Not just a music festival, an ELECTRONIC music festival.  And what are the kids that fill fields listening to these days?  Doo-doo caca.  The result: The Disco Biscuits are one of 4 bands performing on the entire roster, and over 50% of those in attendance do not stay for the Biscuits shows.  So without a doubt, this is not the Camp Bisco real heads remember, nor was it the Camp the Sparkleberries remember the last two years, when the lineup hit homeruns and the Biscuits killed it.   If headliners like Skrillex and Bassnectar (and their offshoots) at least delivered respectable music, this review would be different.

My view is also biased because the only other festival I did this summer was Lightning in a Bottle in California.  While Bassnectar and Glitch Mob headlined that festival, and there was some other crappy bass music there as well (west coast does not seem to be immune from the trend), LiB had so many other awesome things to to distract my ears and feed my soul- like the speaker series and full yoga lineup, and dozens of live artists everywhere, not to mention its breathtaking setting on Lake Irvine.  Camp, honestly, just had none of that (not even live art, except for Gwen Ap, a talented little biscuit holdin it down).  If the Biscuits had at least delivered home-run sets, that would have made up for everything else.  I still love the Boscos with all my heart, Camp was just kinda wack.

Taylor Thompson Art!

Lightning in a Bottle sought out to be an inspirational experience that left people feeling uplifted and enlightening,  while Camp Bisco ended up being a great place to roll your balls off/do K/get drunk and womp out to various forms of noisy bass with a few gems in the mix.  But I suppose it is unfair to hold Camp to the same standard as Lightning in a Bottle.  The East and West coast of this country are still, unfortunately, worlds apart.  But why shouldn’t the East Coast strive for the conscious mentality that flows so freely on the West Coast?  Are not music festivals one of the best ways to expand minds and open hearts to a new way of life that’s not dominated by a self-seeking paper chase?  Are not festivals a place to learn the power of a loving and sharing community?  If East Coast festivals do not strive to create a space for growth, but instead create spaces for over-indulgence in bad drugs, then we are wasting a 15,000 person gathering that could easily do a little to change the world for the better.  I know that Meatcamp Productions really didn’t give a shit about the conscious aspect of the festival because I had been contacting them since February or March to suggest/request that yoga be added to the schedule.  I made it clear that I already had my ticket- I was not looking for compensation, I was merely hoping to share yoga with my peers at my favorite band’s festival.  I never even got back so much as a rejection letter.

Anyway, idealistic ranting aside, one thing Camp consistently offers this Virginia-native is the chance to get down with family.  Big ups to my people for making the weekend a happy family reunion.  With our RV parked as close as possible to the mainstage all weekend, we went out and explored this thing formerly known as Camp Bisco.

RV directly under ferris wheel

As the weekend progressed, I felt more and more as though I was at Ultra Music Festival for some bad reasons and some alright ones.  The B.I.G. Tent had really dope LED panels behind the stage, and pretty kickass lazer action for the big names like MiM0SA.  The tents were also the biggest tents that side of New York state had ever seen, also akin to the massive structures hosting many of Ultra’s DJs.  Bigger space, cooler visuals = good.  Everything else that resembled Ultra = bad.

The first thing I caught on Thursday was Zeds Dead.  They get a check in my book because they closed their set with their “Eyes on Fire” Remix which I listened to on repeat for about a month last summer.  The Biscuits delivered a solid opening set.  Orchard Lounge’s Thursday night set was so-so, and Zedd with Porter Robinson was all housey and shit.  My favorite thing about Thursday was Binary Bits at the Silent Disco.  Our boy Zack laid down the most perfectly chilled out grooves to end my night.  If you remember and liked Beem&Deem, you should check out Binary Bits.

Ultra-esque

Friday we showed our support for the homies from RVA, Silo Effect, and also a longtime staple of Camp Bisco, Future Rock.  The Future Rock guys are by far three of the most enthusiastic musicians on the festival circuit, and they do an awesome job of interacting with the crowd- their enthusiasm is contagious and the jams are always fun.  Orchard Lounge’s day set on Friday was much more in line with their sophisticated style than their first set, and made for a nice afternoon get down.  I missed a lot of cool shit like Portugal. the Man and Rubblebucket on Thursday, (forgive me!).  If you saw something awesome that I’m not mentioning, yell at me in a comment below.

Emancipator

Blockhead on Friday was exactly what I needed- a producer that speaks to my   groove. I was sad to have to miss Lotus for Emancipator’s live set, but I’d been obsessing over Emancipator all year and he naturally didn’t stop anywhere near Miami on his tour.  The live performance was beautiful, the musicians worked great together, and I loved seeing the songs I’d been studying to come to life in front of me.  The Disco Biscuits delivered their best set of the weekend for their first set Friday night, leaving us hopeful that their energy would only increase.  Amon Tobin took the stage after them to bring the most original show that weekend.  The stage setup was every bit as trippy as I’d heard it was going to be: the graphics were complex yet flowed seamlessly through the cubic pyramid dominating the stage, and the sounds were artfully curated.  The set built slowly, maintained its mystery, and did not seek to sound at all like any thing familiar.  I found it impossible to walk away from that set before it was over.  It was like the Cirque Du Soleil of Camp Bisco.  In contrast, I think the Disco Biscuits had too long of a break between first set and second set, because they were worlds apart.

Bonobo’s DJ set was on point, and MiM0SA did his cocky NorCal “futuretrill” thing with cool lasers.  Those Ultra tents were definitely poppin off for the latenights, and these days, you ain’t nobody if you’re not marking your dance territory with a spirit staff.  Again, one of my favorite sets of the day was in the Silent Disco.  My main man SPANKALICIOUS brought some much needed gangsta beats through our headphones.  This guy needs an Oscar, he always delivers!  I honestly wish I’d rested more throughout the day so I could have danced harder for his set.  Keep it up Spanky, you got something special.

I think the only music I saw on Saturday was the Disco Biscuits.  Their 3 spread out sets didn’t give them a good chance to get into a solid groove, and while they started out O.K., they seemed to have lost cohesion by their last set at 11:15 PM.  The 6:15 set was decent, and the 2PM set was alright.  The best thing about the latenight set was the encore, where Barber seemed to remember that he was onstage at his own festival (for the record, the rest of the band pretty much always holds it down no matter what).  I can’t help but mention that I was disappointed that every song from the Road to Camp shows the previous weekend was repeated at Camp Bisco (but I did get my fav, Jigsaw Earth, twice in one week which has got to be a record).  At least the Road to Camp shows were fucking awesome.

Speakerbot

Zoogma is sounding way more solid now that they’ve streamlined their set up, but they couldn’t keep me from running to the other tent for Simian Mobile Disco– possibly the best thing about Saturday.   These motherfuckers threw down with classic skills that all the other DJs and producers at Camp should have been taking notes on.  I was extremely disappointed to see that the tent was 1/3rd full for this set, while the Gramatik tent was completely full.  AND the plug was pulled on SMD exactly at 4AM- they didn’t even have time to finish a track- while noise was still coming from the Gramatik tent.  For me, that just really encapsulated everything wrong with America right now.  At least Speakerbot was chillin at a satellite stage in the campground ready to sooth us with disco as the sun rose for the last time on Camp Bisco 11.

It’s impossible for me to say I won’t be at Camp Bisco again if it happens.  I will support my band, the Disco Biscuits through thick and thin.  Next time though, I may try to splurge on a VIP pass because the only good music seems to happen in the VIP section.  While the plebians are raging Mimosa, the elite in VIP get to rage epic super jams with some of the best artists at the festival (like Kick Rocks with Barber and Lotus’ Mike Greenfield).  Also, knowing what Camp Bisco is growing into, I’ll be better prepared next time.  I’ll stock up on sage, and spend more time getting to know people at the satellite rather than being overwhelmed by the mass of neon clad bassheads.  But Meatcamp, if you’re listening, for the East Coast’s sake, please consider the kids’ brains- we need positive stimulation!  This is not the time for mindless indulgence and ignorance of our higher purpose.  Groups like Tribal Council are making a valiant effort to create sacred spaces at festivals on the East Coast, but we need more enthusiasm, bravery, and teamwork!!  Let this be a call to action to all of us to either bring the conscious element to the festivals we attend, or boycott events that do not speak to our Higher nature.  Thanks for reading my thoughts, and may The Force be with you!

Friends chillin at the Hookah Lounge

Morning on the Ferrris Wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea of Bassheads

 

Aftermath @ Mainstages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitter Happens

 

Always spread the sparkle!

 

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