It’s been about a month since we all broke camp and returned to real life, or perhaps moved on to the next festival. For some, the week after a festival is electric – reeling melodies and vivid mental snapshots. The magic reverberates during week two, but on a deeper frequency. Week three rolls around, one might feel re-settled into daily life, as if having never left. One may forget. Week four is, for some, when deep impressions resurge in one’s subconscious. Like a dream from a forgotten time outside the realm of routine, one is reminded, from calm and reflective waters within that things can be different.
Not every festival inspires this progression, nor is every festivalgoer subject to it. But this summer’s Camp Bisco XII is considered by many to have made the deepest impression on the most people so far this season. Many have written about this phenomenon. Some attribute everyone’s universally stellar perception of Bisco this year to the abundance of well-done trap music. Others consider the difference to be the headliners’ unanimous efforts to stir up nostalgic ruminations of Camps past in the veteran Campers. Rather, could it be a combination?
Camp Bisco has been, for over a decade, the premiere North Eastern festival of its size featuring both heavy hitters of the jam/jamtronica scene as well as the best of the best of upcoming and well established electronica acts. There’s been The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, Brothers Past as well as Bassnectar, Emancipator, and Skrillex. There’s generally a balance between genres at Bisco, and usually at least one popular hip-hop act. Past hip-hop highlights include Whiz Kalifa, this year it was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Umphrey’s McGee’s “Loose Ends”
So now seems like an appropriate time to reminisce. To let those experiences and emotions resurface. Let’s review. The very talented Twiddle kicked things off on Thursday to a large crowd ready to party. Many in attendance had arrived Wednesday night to supposedly eight-hour delays and multiple searches and were certainly ready to get things started by Thursday afternoon. Later Cherub came forward and sort of reminded us it was summer with their glimmering nu-disco vibes. For the multitudes that arrived on Thursday morning or afternoon, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who went on at 5:30, may have been what truly kicked it off.
If it wasn’t the thrift shop boys, then it was definitely Umphrey’s McGee, who was sadly missing bassist Ryan Stasik. Stasik, whose wife was giving birth, was understandably unable to attend. However, Dave Murphy (STS9) and Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator, Electron) filled in during different parts of their overall, good set. Some knocked this performance claiming the chemistry wasn’t there, while others praise the ensemble’s ability to adapt. Furthermore, their rendition of “Home Again” featuring Brownie & Barber (TDB) was unanimously considered superb. Next, Sound Tribe Sector 9 brought it and kept the momentum up for The Disco Biscuits. Late night, across the main lawn, Dillon Francis and Squarepusher pumped it into the wee morning hours.
On Friday afternoon, anyone who was up was at the Werks or Govinda. Later that day, it was announced that Animal Collective would not be playing, and that Thievery Corporation would replace them. The entire festival was even more electric. Some knew Thievery Corp, some didn’t. Some were excited. Some were pissed. Many were confused. It ended up working like this: on stage one, there would be what came to be understood as the Biscuits Sandwich. Thievery Corporation would sublimate the entire crowd in attendance. Then, after Wolfgang Gartner on stage two, The Disco Biscuits would play instead of Animal Collective. Then Bassnectar, and then the last Biscuits set. There you have it; a Biscuits Sandwich.
It actually all really worked out well, but seemed like a poorly written word problem in fourth grade math class to many, as people tried to figure out what exactly to do with themselves over the next six hours. By the time everyone figured it out, many were headed for Destroid. Comprised of Excision, Downlink, and KJ Sawka, these LED-laden butchers of dubstep utilize keytar-looking controllers to create the most ferocious robotic damn near metal anybody has ever heard. The only way to describe how they look is this: if Predator and Daft Punk had three robot alien babies from hell, they’d grow up to be Destroid. Then came Lotus.
Now Lotus is one of the most respected bands on the jam circuit. They successfully blend jam, progressive, dance, and disco. The mastermind Miller brothers are behind the majority of the music, but it was drummer Mike Greenfield who shined that night when power was mistakenly cut off from the stage. Greenfield went for the gold with an incredible solo until power was restored. Honestly, many people didn’t even notice that it wasn’t planned. Lotus is that tight. You can unplug the whole freakin’ band and they’ll just play a drum solo until everything is sorted out.
Day three, things got real. Many woke up to news that stage two had sunk into the ground. Rumors abounded that things were canceled, nothing really was. After a few hours it was decided, regardless of the truth of the matter, that Bassnectar’s notorious low-end frequencies warped the stage, ground, state, region, planet. Exaggeration seemed reliable. Everyone believed it; it made sense, at least at the time. That set was so ridiculous that the hours old myth was feasible. Realistically? It rained a lot before the festival and the ground was a bit swampy to begin with. Did Bassnectar help? Definitely not.
So the show went on. Some acts were moved, notably Break Science. Billed as Break Science feat Special Guests, many were wondering who it could be. When the laid back mass of stone cold boss known as Slick Rick took the stage, some of the youngins’ thought some new guy was covering Snoop Dogg. Hip Hop enthusiasts over the age of 20 promptly schooled the masses and soon the entire crowd realized – Oh dear lord, Slick Rick is at Camp Bisco. This isn’t some bubble gum pop-rap star, this is a downright legend of hip hop sharing the stage with one of today’s best duos. It was unexplainable. It’s not outside the realm of reason to hear a Slick Rick sample in PLM artists’ work, but to properly feature the man live on stage? That’s purely indicative of that label’s ambitious nature. Changing the game. People emphasize Pretty Lights himself playing with Talib Kweli on Letterman – but Break Science with Slick Rick? At Camp Bisco? Jesus….
The Disco Biscuits’ “On Time”
Another Pretty Lights Music mainstay, Gramatik, brought their game faces. Topping off a string of incredible performances throughout the beginning of the summer, and continuing through today, Gramatik was on fire. Whereas in other recent shows he has worked with others, this was an old school just Gramatik set. Womps ensued. Bodies rocked. Funk dropped. Vibes were shared. Pink and purple lights consumed the rowdy crowd until the funk could spin no more.
Eventually, the last Disco Biscuits set began. This is one reason the multitudes agree that this year’s Camp was by far the best in recent years. Just this one set. Much has been said about this set, and there’s not much anyone could add onto Live For Live Music’s opinion:
“’Run Like Hell>Little Shimmy in a Conga Line (inverted)>Mindless Dribble (dub version)>Munchkin Invasion>Crickets (middle section)>Run Like Hell’…. Beginning the set with “RLH” is always a good sign of things to come, and they most certainly did. The dub version of “Mindless Dribble” was so good, and slowed things down in the perfect way, just to build it all back up into the craziness that is “Munchkin Invasion.” The middle section of “Crickets,” which saw some classic Barber noodling, led back into “RLH” for the set closer, which left everyone just staring at the stage mesmerized, as our minds had been blown into bits and pieces.” – Chris Meyer, Live for Live Music
Blown to bits and pieces indeed. The Disco Biscuits, as with many other bands these days, are usually a love or hate thing for most people. This set is what haters need to feel the love.
It’s undeniable: between the balanced abundance of proper electro-jam bands and EDM, Camp Bisco XII was simply superb. Despite a few issues that really don’t matter at all, everything went off without a hitch. One thing is for sure: when the fans have nothing to complain about besides scheduling confusion, you know it was a killer festival.
See you at Camp Bisco XIII!
Written by Pete DeStefano
OurVinyl | Contributor