As The Disco Biscuits step on stage for their fifth and final set of the weekend, bassist Marc Brownstein jokingly states, “It wouldn’t be Camp Bisco if it wasn’t Camp Bisco. You know what I mean? I know at least some of you know what I mean.”
On the surface it seems like he is just a little spun, but for regular attendees of the upstate New York festival Brownie is speaking truth. Simply put, it just wouldn’t Camp Bisco without mud, thunderstorm smoke sessions in the car, bikers keeping the nitrous mafia out, spunion wookies, and a lot of untz. For some it may be hard to understand the appeal of a muddy festival held on land owned by bikers with some of the hardest partiers in the scene, but the attendees at camp know exactly what they are getting into and would not want it any other way. You won’t find many self-righteous hippies saving the world here; it’s just the best party of the summer with one of the best line-ups that can be seen, period.
Camp Bisco has been steadily growing since it’s inception and in 2010 it has truly become one of the top festivals of the summer. With 15,000 in attendance and acts such as Ween, Wu Massacre, Gift of Gab, LCD Soundsystem, Thievery Corporation, and Talib Kweli on the bill this festival is hardly just for die-hard Biscuits fans. The diverse line-up with so many top-notch acts, and the addition of key elements such as the silent disco and a second stage on the main concert field pretty much ensure nonstop music from noon to sunrise. For fans of electronic music the dance tent bumps untz all weekend, leaving Camp Bisco with a feel of being both an eclectic festival and an electronic music festival rolled into one.
Long lines keep the crowds from getting too dense right up until the Disco Biscuits first set of the weekend. For those who are already in the grounds Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab throws down an immaculate set, teaching everyone in attendance why he is regarded as one of the best underground emcees to ever pick up a microphone. There are very few rappers in the world who have mastered lyrical technique like Gift of Gab and it’s truly unfortunate so many people are waiting in line during this set. After a brief Future Rock set the crowd begins to fill in and The Disco Biscuits take the stage for their sunset show. There is a definite sense of urgency on the stage, and the band clearly wants to set a high standard for the weekend. The set kicked off with House Dog Party Favor clocking in at just less than 20 minutes. The set peaks with an inverted Reactor and winds down with the ending of On Time. For those unfamiliar with the Biscuits, an inversion occurs when jamming into the ending of a song then proceeding with the beginning section.
The main stages finishes off on Thursday with sets from the immensely popular Pretty Lights and LCD Soundsystem. It is interesting to see the Disco Biscuits step back and take a secondary role on this night and allow these two acts the headlining roles at their own festival. Both bands deliver high-energy sets that have the crowd going wild, and it is the perfect lead in to the late night acts of the evening. Immediately following LCD is Two Fresh and Holy Fuck in the dance tent. The relaxed hip hop and jazzier stuff from two fresh segues nicely into the more experimental Holy Fuck. With Thursday’s music in the books and no Silent Disco until Friday people actually have the chance to sleep.
In typical music festival fashion, things don’t get going on Friday until late afternoon and specifically with Wu Massacre. Following a rather standard set from Big Gigantic, Wu Massacre takes the stage over an hour late and performs a set of Wu Tang greatest hits. Despite the being shortened by the delay Wu Massacre delivers one of the best sets of the weekend. Following Wu is a stellar set from Thievery Corporation, showcasing their eclectic and ethnic-infused music with a rotating cast of vocalists and supporting artists.
After night falls the Disco Biscuits take the stage for their second and arguably best set of the weekend. The music is high-energy and cleanly executed featuring nothing but crowd favorites. The highlight of the set is more or less impossible to determine at the time and the whole set is made all the better with a laser light show. Normally The Disco Biscuits do not get a lot of respect for their light show, but 2010 has seen an incredible increase in both Lighting Designer Johnny R. Goode’s creativity and financial backing from the band. The addition of Martin Mac III lighting modules, and now lasers has truly put The Disco Biscuits Light show on the same level as many of the elite bands in the jamband scene, if only for a short while.
After a set break show from Bassnectar and a rather forgettable second Biscuits set The New Deal takes the stage in the Dance Tent for what is undeniably the best late night set of the weekend. The high-energy and extremely improv heavy livetronica pioneers absolutely destroy their set and have the entire tent thumping for the duration of their set. It is a shame this band does not tour more often, and it is always a treat to catch them live. Friday Night at Camp Bisco is no different. For those not ready for the party to end the Local Stage is transformed into the silent disco at night, where noise ordinances are no issue. The Silent Disco features two acts performing at the same time and the headphones give the listener ability to switch back and forth. Many up-and-coming acts take the opportunity to play an additional set, and the watching people get down to silence at different tempos was perhaps the oddest thing that could be witnessed all weekend.
Saturday may very well be the best line-up ever conceived at Camp Bisco. With so many diverse and extremely talented acts going on all day on the main concert field there really isn’t much of a reason to leave that area. The Local Stage and Dance Tent both have plenty of acts to draw people away however. Things get going early with The Disco Biscuits day set, featuring a stellar rendition of Mr. Don as well as the extremely rare Pat and Dex. Following The Disco Biscuits set there is a bit of a mix up due to the late arrival of Talib Kweli, leading to the switch of set times with SOJA and the rumor that the emcee will not be featured in Break Science’s set. These rumors prove to be untrue and Kweli delivers a short buy rowdy set featuring songs exclusively off of the new Reflection Eternal album, Revolutions Per Minute.
The Band with the most mixed reception of the weekend is a band that always receives mixed reactions, both because of their inconsistency as a live act and the general weirdness to the music. Ween takes the stage as the storm clouds begin come into view in the background and deliver one of the cleanest and most professional sets they are capable of full of fan favorites and old hidden gems. As good as the set is many people at camp just can’t handle the brown glory of Ween. The storm clouds settle in as the set ends and many people retreat to their cars to wait out the inevitable Camp Bisco monsoon. The storm never really materializes into very much rain and but the lightning more or less cancels Papadosio’s set on the Local stage, ends Brothers Past early, and turns the final 2 Biscuit sets into one extended set.
Laser rain is cutting thru the air as the Biscuits hit the peak of Munchkin Invasion and Camp Bisco is in its most idyllic state. Its is hard to explain why one would host a festival in the same spot annually when torrential downpours are almost as much of a sure thing as seeing someone carried out by medical personnel, but for those who have experienced the raw glory that is Camp Bisco there really is no better place for it, and it is the best time of the year.
Words By Jason Woodside
Photos By Matt Speck and Jason Woodside
Jason’s camp gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/woodsidej1/sets/72157624560729044/
Matt’s camp gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/roverife/sets/72157624611015030/