There’s something special about Camp Bisco.
Maybe it’s the blatant resemblance between its lush rolling hills and that of Woodstock’s similar landscape. Both Upstate New York festivals, both free-for-all hippie gatherings. Both magical in their own right.
Maybe it’s the Hells Angels presence - a mean-mugging biker clan who owns the campgrounds and plays security for the weekend. Without a policeman in sight, festival goers roam freely between their tents and staging areas with alcohol and substances galore.
Maybe it’s the “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” attitude everyone who enters the gates holds. Every music festival I’ve been to has that sense of escaping reality for the weekend - leaving behind responsibilities of school/work/living in favor of three days of unrepentant musical loving and dirty mayhem.
Whatever the case may be, Camp Bisco is special. I’ll give most credit to The Disco Biscuits who continuously put the crowd’s interests before their own. As founders and hosts of the festival, it’d be easy to stack their lineup with straight jam-band fun to keep their musical themes aligned. But instead, they recruited an impressively diverse lineup which incorporated every sound from brostep to trip-hop - creating a festival that welcomes more than just the newest generation of deadheads.
The Disco Biscuits set musical standards quite high with their six stellar sets, totaling more than seven hours of dedicated jammage throughout the weekend. With lasers shooting wildly and LED screens flashing about, The Biscuits reminded us all of the festival’s roots with their coveted riffs and blasting peaks.
On the dubstep front, Skrillex absolutely tore the stage apart with his headlining set Thursday night. Dropping right into his remix of iSquare’s “Hey Sexy Lady,” Skrillex set the tone for what would be an hour of the genre done right - dirty, heavy, messy, bassy dubstep. His mashup of “Scary Monsters” and “Right on Time” sent fans into a heart-palpitating frenzy. Later on in the set, Skrillex made the snarky remark of “make some noise if you’ve never heard this song before,” to preface him dropping his “Levels” remix. Seeing Skrillex live just makes listening to him on speakers quite irrelevant, and ever-disappointing.
Anoher dubstep favorite was Bassnectar, who amazingly seemed to draw in both the frat-hard crew and the festy-hippie fans. The bassmaster’s set was plagued with technical issues - the sound cut out three times leaving Bassnectar visibly flustered and rightfully pissed off. This is a massive-production music festival, what the hell Camp Bisco? Anyway, after a few tries, the show continued on and the audience went wild for Bassnectar’s dirty remixes of Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” and Nero’s “Crush On You.” Backed by an incredibly intricate lighting structure, Bassnectar blasted bass in our face until we nearly collapsed from dancing too hard.
Moving away from dubstep but not completely out of the electronic realm was Big Gigantic on Sunday, who symbolically served as the crossroads between EDM and live instruments. With a saxophone in hand and drum-set on stage, Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken wooed the audience into a state of musical trance with their electronica-funktastic sounds. Perched on a six tear lighting rig that boomed with vivid color mixes, the duo dropped a saxified remix of Knife Party’s “Bonfire” that had arms flailing and legs on over-speed. And as a special surprise, Big Gigantic played a brand new, unreleased track that was dubby and funky in all the right ways.
In a predominantly jammy and electro festival, you might not think rappers will be crowd pleasers but they seemed to fit right in at Bisco. Big Boi showed up 45 minutes late to his set, blaming the Canadian border patrol for the delay, but put on a great 20 minutes of music regardless. Blasting his hits from Outkast, we all timewarped back to the 90’s days of MTV and CD players - a sort of interconnected moment where we all remembered what it was like to be young.
Atmosphere’s Sunday slot welcomed a massive outpouring of fans. I’m always hesitant to see rappers live, when their raw talents are often exposed without the help of autotune or studio editing. But Atmosphere, backed by his full band The Rhymesayers, displayed a fantastic amount of skill with his voice, lyrical placement and stage presence. Belting out hits like “God Loves Ugly,” “Sunshine,” and “Don’t Ever Fucking Question That,” we swayed about and sang along to our favorite darkly twisted tunes.
A poet in his own right, Atmosphere spoke softly to the crowd about what it meant for us all to be here, together, singing the same lyrics and living in these shared moments. Worshiping the same musicians, dancing to the same DJs. A once in a lifetime experience. He seemed to sum up the weekend with one simple, yet pure and true line:
“This experience right here is as close to church as some of us are going to get."
Don't forget to check out Part I of our coverage: Inside Camp Bisco Part I: The Scene