Stories from Kandi Land: Camp Bisco 2013
08 Aug 2013

The Author

Profile photo of Alex Kratzert
It's all about the music...

Share

[This review was written mostly by Alex Kratzert but Christina also felt the need to chime in from time to time.] 

“Sex; drugs; those are the things that they’re using to sell rock n’ roll, which seems a damn shame. When you get down to it, the music is certainly capable of doing that on its own.” – Levon Helm of The Band.

I found myself writing this article maddeningly unsure about the subject matter. On one end of my indecisiveness is my sincere belief that it really doesn’t make a difference what kind of music you dig; as long as it really does it for you, if it really gets you going and makes you feel alive, then listen loudly and pay no mind to those who protest otherwise. On the other, however, my experience of this festival begs other thoughts as well as many questions. These questions ponder not only the direction that electronic DJ music is taking, but also the drugs that seem to fuel this propulsion.

Photo by DubEra

Photo by DubEra

This crowd loves speed. Well, most of the crowd that I saw but still, speed as well as a perpetually altering consciousness that takes great part in this sort of appreciation. Most of all, it makes a hell of a lot of sense. After three days of on and slightly off dubstep and frat music, filtered with an array of talented, enticing performances, I felt a sense of disinterest, exhaust and an intangible obligation to continue in the experience. It appears to me that this obligation is the result of a nagging reminder that there is, in fact, merit to such craziness, but is it lasting or simply momentary? For myself, it felt the latter, and through my exhaustion and disinterest, I realized why people feel the need to eat drugs in this experience.

While writing this review, I was involuntarily taken from writing by a live Zappa cover of “Whipping Post” that my friend was rocking out to. While ripping a solo faster than I could ever imagine playing, he became absolutely still at one point. Well, mostly. His eyes were focused and every inch of his ingenious noggin twitched, cranked, nodded and agreed to damn near every note that he played. His trance was contagious, sending a flow of sound that could captivate any who chimed in. And suddenly, I snapped out of it and realized that the song was over, I hadn’t written a word, and for some odd reason I felt like smoking a cigarette. There were many moments at Bisco where I felt this sort of musical connection, this escape from the real state of mind. More often than not, however, it seemed that the music was aimed at giving individuals something to take shitty drugs to, which left the sober mind unsatisfied and wanting more substance.

Rage Stick much? Photo by aLIVE Media

Rage Stick much? Photo by aLIVE Media

It is not accurate to place the entire blame on dubstep or Camp Bisco. There is good electronic DJ music out there that has been more than capable of carrying my mind away, and the Bisco people realize and seem to hold on to that notion. Nowadays, though, it is the festival goer who fuels this direction, and the majority seems to not give a damn whether the music is good or not. If the ketamine’s good, well, fuck it. So as I became part of the flock of Bisco, a festival which has evolved along the lines of the mid- to main-stream EDM scene, another face in the midst of the segregated sub-communities that birthed from the varying lineup, I struggled to decide if it was the music that fueled such excitement and energy, or if it was the 72-or-so hours of altered consciousness and wild chemicals that kept the ball rolling.

While taking this foreign festival scene in, there were many positive musical experiences throughout the weekend.  I had missed Twiddle but made it for Rubblebucket, thankfully, which set a familiar ease into the weekend. At this point I had been sporting the bare-footed way, which after only seeing a few fellow shoeless individuals while experiencing sharp sensations through the pads of my soles did I realize that it may have been a poor decision. Subsequently, I sported a limp for the majority of the night.

Jon Gutwillig and Marc Brownstein, Home Again during Umphreys. Photo by aLIVE Media

Jon Gutwillig and Marc Brownstein, Home Again during Umphreys. Photo by aLIVE Media

I watched parts of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis as well as KJ Sawka afterward, which people seemed to eat up, but myself as well as many others were looking for a taste of something with actual instruments. With the sun still frying the grounds, falling slowly behind the vast stretch of trees, Umphrey’s Mcgee came on for their first and only set of the weekend. I was as surprised as I was ecstatic to hear them cover “Breathe” by Pink Floyd, possibly one of the only classic rock covers of the weekend (besides the VIP latenight on Saturday, which featured an all-star ensemble covering the whole Dark Side of the Moon album.  Of course, this probably awesome experience was reserved for “VERY” important people with $500+ to shell out for a festival ticket). At a place like Bisco, the GA people don’t dig the old stuff so much. They want speed, bass, seizure-inducing light spectacles: that kind of shit. Don’t get me wrong, dubstep and other electronic “music” has its own merit and can make for a hell of a good time. It was just nice to see some acts that didn’t have a Macbook Pro front-and-center.

Photo by aLIVE Media

Photo by aLIVE Media

There were also some sit-ins during this Umphreys set. Barber and Brownie from the Disco Biscuits joined in to play “Home Again” and “Partyin’ Peeps” (just Brownie if I remember correctly) and before that, Murph from STS9 sat in on “Triple Wide.” Lastly, Magner from the Biscuits shredded the keytar on “Booth Love” to close out the set. They maintained such synchronicity with each other, and I was amazed that the Biscuits guys could get on stage despite the six sets that were still to come. I was blown away by the show, which remains one of the best performances of the weekend.

STS9 was a sweet show but it wasn’t the Sound Tribe I had hoped to see. Other than “Golden Gate,” the rest seemed to be geared toward the Bisco dub crowd, the masses of Jersey shore looking people who were itching to get their grind on. I had been listening to Tribe’s set from last year’s Gathering of the Vibes in anticipation of their show, which, in comparison, may well explain my slight disappointment. Aside from a great Biscuits set, the rest of the night continued in a similar manner, a spectacle of spastic lights, sniffing and snorting, and the unsettling flashbacks of attending frat parties. Com Truise and Boys Noize were cool, but as one o’clock rolled around and my eyes began to feel ever dreary, not a single song did the job of keeping me stepping. Such was the earliest night I’ve ever called at a festival.

Squarepusher, Photo by aLIVE Media

Squarepusher, Photo by aLIVE Media

I pass the torch to Co-Sparkleberry Christina, who did her best to keep the night going; she writes: “High on nothing but pure, unadulterated, really amazing Disco Biscuits set, of course everything paled in comparison.  Squarepusher brought an interesting vibe however, reminiscent of the eclectic sounds of the likes of Amon Tobin.  It definitely was more about watching and listening than dancing.  I personally found that the sound in the dance tents was extremely loud and Squarepusher’s new stuff somewhat abrasive to the ears, so I have to admit I didn’t stay for the whole set.  There was a surprise delight at the Silent Disco with the Nu-Disco sounds of Mr. Bonkerz, from Washington, D.C., but the one or two other Silent Disco artists were more of the same womp and circumstance that filled the latenight dance tents.  I couldn’t comprehend how you could have more of the same blasting into your ears into sunrise”

Govinda, Photo by aLIVE Media

Govinda, Photo by aLIVE Media

Back to Alex: I remained positive for day two. The Werks, a surprise addition of Thievery Corporation (to compensate for the cancelled Animal Collective appearance), Lotus and, of course, more Biscuits. The Werks were great; it’s always a blast grooving to their show, especially early in the day when getting the womp out sounds like a burden. I checked out Govinda afterward, and I have to say he proved me wrong. I was impressed to see fiddle mixed in with electronic music, something I had yet to see. Perhaps it was the music, or simply my bias for string instruments that got me going, but I had a lot of fun getting down to some west-coast dub at 2:30 in the afternoon.  He ended his set with a particularly awesome cover of “A Land Down Under” by Men at Work.  Govinda, the West Coast’s glitch ambassador for the weekend, was one of the festival’s highlights.

Thievery Corporation, Photo by aLIVE Media

Thievery Corporation, Photo by aLIVE Media

Thievery Corporation was a bittersweet surprise: bitter because of the cancellation of Animal Collective and sweet, well, because it’s Thievery Corporation. They were as psychedelic as they were funky, with their cover of “Thank You” by Sly and the Family Stone that was absolutely incredible. I’m not too familiar with their other tunes; I know they went through many fan favorites from early albums.  Whatever they did turned out to be just the medicine to send me into a trance. Thievery Corporation proved that there is indeed a place for turntables in the world of real, enticing music, but I think that without the combination of real instruments, it just doesn’t carry the same weight.

Thievery played when the Biscuits were originally scheduled to be on, moving them to the same time slot as Paper Diamond at 8:15 before Bassnectar. I wanted to go see the Biscuits play, but the group that I was with argued, “the Disco Biscuits are playing four more sets, Paper Diamond is only on once.” I reluctantly agreed and went to Paper Diamond with the group, shooting looks to the main stage in anxious doubt. I left after the first song to go see the Biscuits, making it in time to see “Portal to an Empty Head.” One of my better decisions, I’d say.

Best Laser action we've ever seen. Only 4 The Disco Biscuits.

Best Laser action we’ve ever seen. Only 4 The Disco Biscuits.

Again I pass the writing torch to Christina for a take on the Biscuits:  “The Disco Biscuits were definitely bringing the classic, tried and true Camp Bisco sound their die hard fans had been craving for a long time.  They were working well together on stage, time and thought had been put into their sets, and they definitely got a few practice sessions in before the festival.  Considering the main-stage area was much less crowded thanks to the disinterest of the “Basshead” crowd, the true believers got plenty of room to get the fuck down.  We had weathered the elements of what had become a questionably curated festival with dangerously exuberant and arbitrary Biker-gang security, for a band we will never give up on.  And the sound the Biscuits brought that weekend made it all worthwhile.”

(Surprisingly, no one had to weather the element of rain that weekend, besides the Wednesday night arrival crowd which created mud issues in the grounds for the rest of the weekend.  But for the first time in a long time, it was a Camp Bisco with perfect weather conditions).

Photo by aLIVE Media

Photo by aLIVE Media

Later that night was Lotus. I was on a similar level of exhaustion as the night before and they got on later than I went to bed the night before. Nevertheless, I stayed for the entire show, grooving and stepping through every note and beat. This is the crucial difference between equipment and instruments. They allow for a natural high that can keep you engaged and going despite lack of sleep, baking in the sun, or hours upon hours of womp. “Behind Midwest Storefronts” and “Hammerstrike” were my two highlights of their show, and as I wandered from the main stage area toward the solitude of my cozy tent, I felt satisfied with the knowledge that the night ended on a solid note, one full of energy, light, euphoria, and real music.

Ginormous dance tents are here to stay, Photo by aLIVE Media

Ginormous dance tents are here to stay, Photo by aLIVE Media

Christina managed to catch some latenights that I didn’t make it to. She writes:  “Aeroplane absolutely brought the disco fire, with easily one of the best DJ sets of the weekend.  After raging awesome Biscuits, high quality dance music makes for the perfect after party.  Gigamesh, the set before, also threw down dance music of a similarly high caliber.  Perseus and Moonboots threw down before the Biscuits that night, and so Friday was a great day for Disco lovers.”

Finally, the last night of Bisco and the last stretch of wild insanity. I feel that this night boils down to three sets; the rest was more of the same. More dub, more womp, plenty of littering and plenty of half-empty trash/recycling bins. But, thankfully, the Biscuits were there to pick up the slack. I’ll let my co-writer tell you all about it: “The traditional Saturday day-time set had been delayed because one of the main-stages’ integrity had been compromised due to the mud underneath.  It took about an hour to get it fixed, and the Biscuits took the scene to play a perfect day time set.  Besides a standalone Svenghali, they threw in a banger Magellan with a Stir It Up, Bob Marley jam at the end, and it had us gazing at the sky in wonder and gratitude.  They ended with Spy, which was the most requested song via Facebook comments.  It was a day set to be remembered, but it remained to be seen how their last two sets would play out.  Some Biscuits fans even feared that one of their sets might be cancelled.  As they came on for the first night set, Brownie assured us that they had been working hard on scheduling, and that the Biscuits would be playing two back –to –back sets, with only a 30 minute break in between.  I was beyond stoked: one of my main complaints about Camp sets is that the 1 hour time slots don’t give the band enough time to develop the sound the way a full show does.  That night we got a full show with almost 3 hours of uninterrupted Biscuits heaven.  Highlights of the most memorable evening include the Story of the World > Rock Candy > Tricycle > Orch Theme > Story of the World nonstop extravaganza, the always epic Little Shimmy in a Conga Line dance party, a super sexy dub Mindless Dribble, and the Jamilia > Tempest > Munckin Invasion encore. The entirety of Biscuits that weekend was musical bliss for a long-time fan, made everything else tolerable, and the questionable performances of last Camp were forgotten (perhaps that’s why we love em still so much these days- there are no guarantees but when they are on, they change lives).  Surrounded by elated faces, I several times found myself wishing I could live in a Biscuits show forever.

Label Tent Spider lights, Photo by aLIVE Media

Label Tent Spider lights, Photo by aLIVE Media

One of the best scheduling arrangements of the weekend, besides the back to back Biscuits, was the Boombox set to close out the weekend.  Their chill, up-beat dance grooves were the perfect ending to a perfect night of Disco Biscuits music, and I could easily have danced to it until morning.”

Now, many of you dubstep enthusiasts out there may not be on the same page with my view of the music at Camp Bisco 2013. Despite that it was created by the Disco Biscuits, it is, through and through, an electronic based festival and I get that. Perhaps electronic music just isn’t for me; maybe it can instill a sense of passion or fulfillment in many of you. I find that difficult to comprehend, though. Aside from the bands that I had praised earlier, I saw more excitement and passion in the faces of individuals describing the effects of ketamine to me than I did at any of the DJ sets, who I swear must’ve recycled samples multiple times throughout the weekend. This branch of music seems to be fueled mainly by the drugs that appear to fit so well with it, and that makes me wonder. Since festivals began, it has been the common understanding that drugs take a large part in the execution of the experience, but it was not the focus. The music was enough in itself, and acid, mushrooms, cocaine, whatever; it fell in because music simply carries with it an open mind. We all have our escapes from reality and who am I to say you can’t do or take anything. The expansion of the mind is something to be sought after, however it is you carry it out; all I wish is that people dive in in moderation and do not allow it to take away from the true essence of real music. Seek the natural high every once in a while.

The Disco Biscuits, Photo by aLIVE Media

The Disco Biscuits, Photo by aLIVE Media

As Christina puts it: “This year, it’s not the production we have a problem with.  They are simply responding to the demand of a crowd that likes shitty music, probably because they are too fucked up to care (this is, obviously, a generalization.  If you are a sober person who likes shitty music, we apologize).  MCP Productions really did go out of their way to bring a new and conscious vibe to Camp Bisco.  The various workshops were well attended (holler if you made a shirt with Sparkleberry Lane!), and gave festival goers something to leave the fest with besides a hangover.  The art installations were more prominent this year, giving the main stage field a homier feel.  My favorite addition was probably the enormous strings of glowing balloons floating above the fields and encircling the crowd each night.  Clean Vibes worked their butts off to clean up after this especially messy crowd, and it was great to see partitioned landfill/recycling receptacles throughout the fest grounds.  If MCP can keep on this trend of festival enhancement, but also bring musical acts that support a more profound listening experience (more true to Camp Bisco’s roots), and get rid of the biker gang security, then the evolution of this festival will continue in a positive light.”

Photo by aLIVE Media

Photo by aLIVE Media

Lighting workshop! Photo by James Coletta Photography

Lighting workshop!
Photo by James Coletta Photography

Back to Alex: In my experience of this festival, I met a lot of great people who extended nothing but community, positive vibes and the drive to make the absolute best out of the weekend. At the same time, however, I felt apart from many who attended; it seemed that there were these shut-off groups who, frankly, didn’t give a fuck about extending a hand or a hello. It seemed that many had a single interest, whether it was to soar to the moon for three days or hit on the numerous lovely females that didn’t seem to hold much respect for themselves. These gatherings are meant to be a celebration: a celebration of life, love, music, community and all that drives us mad and wild in this world. Much of Bisco achieved this notion, much more than I had expected to be honest, and I think that the Camp Bisco team did well in creating the best possible environment for an electronic festival. Now, it is up to the individual who attends such an experience to create a sense of community, one where people can feel at home and safe in the act of experimentation, so the emergency sirens can be less prevalent. Most importantly, remember that it’s the music that should drive us to go; all else is either a perk or a hindrance. The decision is and will always be your own.

Classic Bisco Double Mainstage setup- Photo by James Coletta Photography

Classic Bisco Double Mainstage setup- Photo by James Coletta Photography

 

 

 

 

 

No comments

Fatal error: Uncaught Exception: 12: REST API is deprecated for versions v2.1 and higher (12) thrown in /home/content/84/6481784/html/wp-content/plugins/seo-facebook-comments/facebook/base_facebook.php on line 1273