There’s something different in the air during those three days at Camp Bisco 11: perhaps it’s the sense of community, prescription or those moments when you think you’ve traveled back in time to Woodstock, advice or the presence of Hells Angels running the security, adiposity or better yet the rebellious “F#@k you” attitudes looking to escape reality for a few days. Regardless of the reason, the atmosphere is like no other. I was greeted by ear-to-ear smiles, beach balls, hula hoops, tutus, Native American outfits, glow sticks and glitter. The best way to describe the culture at Camp is to compare it to the flappers that pushed boundaries in the roaring 20s, the hippies that rebelled in the 60s and the disco queens that danced their way through the 70s. Like previous generations had speakeasies, music festivals and discos, Camp Bisco acts as a platform for the zeitgeist of the youth.

Art installations

I loved every single art installation for different reasons, but there were a few in particular that really added to the festival’s character. One being ’Outcropping,’ designed by Brooklyn based architects Bureau V, which was located in the center of the Main Stage area. What made this installation so interesting was the angled mirrors that reflected the landscape and the crowd while reflecting rays of light. During the day it was cool, but after sunset it really played a key role in the creative feel of the festival that inevitably poured out of everything like a thunderstorm. Miguel Paredes’ ‘Delay Towers,’ two 21 feet tall and 7 feet wide towers that rested on each side of the main stage, were bursting with color. His imaginative installation really captured the vibe of the crowd and music.

Dirty paws created ‘The Canopy of Life’ which symbolizes unity, peace and life. “The flower of life is created by seven evenly spaced circles that can extrapolate infinitely while maintaining a perfect hexagonal form.” If done right, conceptual art makes a distinct presence, emitting a certain emotion or tone as a ways of communication, whether or not people are even aware of it. The concept and aesthetic of ‘The Canopy of Life’ discreetly utter peace, creating waves of positivity throughout the campgrounds.

outcropping bureau v camp bisco art installation

Day 1

Considering that I was a little apprehensive about the check-in process, I was taken aback by how organized, thorough and well executed the entire weekend was, from checking in and setting up, to the overall hospitality thanks to Camp Bisco and Caren West PR. As my apprehensiveness dissolved into enthusiasm, I headed to the main stage through a lit up path as I let the electrifying ambiance take over.

“Last year in particular,” said a festival go-er, “electronic music really began to dominate the scene.” I must say, The Disco Biscuits are stellar founders and hosts for listening to what their fans want and diversifying the lineup, including dubstep, brostep, funk, jam bands, hip hop, indie, trance fusion and different genres of EDM.

One of the first sets I saw was Kung Fu, the token funk band, which was a great way to start the weekend. Todd Stoops somehow manipulated his clavinet and his Nord Lead to create an interesting sound that complemented the guitar riffs. I then made my way over to the B.I.G. tent to see The M Machine, the first of many OWSLA-associated performers present. Although I was surprised to see only Ben Swardlick instead of the usual trio, he played a great set with heavy bass and lots of energy.

Finally it was time to see Rubblebucket, which I had been anticipating. With 8 musicians on stage, they’re able to fully utilize the stage and a wide range of instruments, thus producing a truly unique sound and an amazing stage presence. They played songs mostly from ‘Omega La La’ including ‘Silly Fathers,’ and ‘Came Out of a Lady.’ They covered Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass,’ which was definitely a crowd pleaser. The trumpet player jumped off stage, onto someone’s back, and paraded through the crowd, all while playing his solo. Shortly after their performance, I sat down with Kal to pick her brain a little. We talked about their interactive performance, which led to an interesting story, as well as other interesting stories, facts, and inspiring advice for artists. Check out my Rubblebucket interview here.

The M Machine prepped me a little for Zeds Dead, but I doubt I could ever really be ready to get smacked in the face with the first heavy dubstep set of the weekend.  As every selection got progressively heavier, the energy levels rose and the entire crowd, including myself, was definitely vibing with their “dirty” beats.  ZD’s played selections from Trap productions, and some samples from Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and also busted out ’1975.’ They set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

I was just in time for Skrillex, catching the tail end of the 10 minute countdown for his set. The crowd went wild when he dropped ‘Still Getting It.’ The visuals projected behind him alternated between Skrillex logos and Mortal Kombat’s loading screen fight scenes, which was interesting. As a fan of the Beastie Boys’ I was loving his remix of ‘Sabatoge.’ For the most part, people either love Skrillex or think he’s overrated, but whether or not people want to admit it, everyone enjoys his beats because they‘re fun and energizing. At the same time, I hope that the ones who came solely for Skrillex got to broaden their musical palette a bit at Camp Bisco.

Between traveling, the heat and trying to be everywhere at once, I was beat. I headed back to my tent early to call it a night. Given that I was right next to the Label tent, I was in and out of sleep, but I did get to enjoy some of Orchard Lounge’s set which was nice, until I finally put in my ear plugs and got a good night’s rest.

camp bisco main stage hula hoop 2012

Day 2

I woke up with the sun on the second day of the festival, which happened to land on Friday the 13th (a lucky day for Italians.) I ate breakfast and explored the campgrounds with some friends before we headed over to the artist lounge/media tent where I unexpectedly ran into a friend who had a table set up for Mojo Backpacks. He hooked me up with a neon pink backpack which ended up being a lot more helpful than my current bag for carrying the essentials: phone, phone charger, my little notebook, a pen, camera gear, lineup schedule, and water.

The first set of the day I caught was The Knocks, an upbeat electro-pop duo from the Lower East Side and first-timers to Camp Bisco. They were a lot of fun, and a great way to start the day. Orchard Lounge’s second set was more upbeat than what I had remembered from the previous night. Break Science (featuring Chali 2na of Jurassic 5) remixed Rick James’ “Give It to Me Baby” which was really fun, and Portugal. The Man played mostly new material off of ‘In the Mountain.’

Much to my dismay, I heard rumors floating around that Big Boi cancelled. Next thing I noticed was a group of fellow photographers waiting outside a trailer backstage. To my surprise, out came Big Boi heading straight for the stage, a half hour late but better late than never I suppose. He played some Outkast songs and everybody instantly forgot that he ever kept us waiting.

Wobblesauce was playing on the new talent stage, where they proved to be amazing. I later met Jake Boyton, bassist and creative director of Wobble Wednesdays at Wonderbar in Boston, who is an awesome and talented artist.

Afterwards, I caught Lotus, which was one of the bands I was psyched to see. They busted out a “Legend of Zelda” remix and closed with “Spiritualize.” You can tell that their new self-titled album is influenced by the electronic trend, but at the same time they keep their musical integrity. The standard guitar/bass/drums were accompanied by horn and string arrangements, analog synthesizers, dub effects and heavy bass. Their music spans a wide range, creating an interesting sound.

Since I fell asleep early the night before, I was bummed that I missed the Disco Biscuits’ first set, but at least I was able to catch their remaining five sets. The combination of the LED movers, LED screens, lasers and of course the music always adds up to an uplifting performance.  Since they incorporate a variety of different genres, their musical aesthetics are very unique.

Amon Tobin’s performance was obscure and mind blowing, to say the least. Honestly, there are no words that can be strung together to give his show justice. He played songs mostly from his new album ISAM, as he was discreetly hidden inside a central block attached to a monolithic structure of white blocks, where the audience was only able to see him when the block was occasionally lit up. Patterns of light were projected onto the white blocks in multiple dimensions across a staggered surface, as a green dot bounced from cube to cube accompanied by spacey synths and an overall galactic Star Wars feel. I got so lost in his performance, it was truly astounding and definitely one of my favorite sets of the weekend.

I made my way over to the B.I.G. tent to see Dada Life. They played fun songs like “Rolling Stones T-Shirt” and “Happy Violence.” It was a lot of fun and everyone was on their feet dancing. Then I saw Bonobo, although lacking the usual backing band, he played a refreshing set with complex basslines in the Label tent.

As opposed to the majority of the bands in attendance, Tycho was one of the few ambient bands with a mellow vibe. They played their single from 2008, ‘The Daydream,’ which is a truly timeless piece that never fails to give chills throughout the entire song. It was a great note to end my night on (pun intended.)
amon tobin camp bisco 2012

Day 3

I woke up soaked at some ridiculous hour, as I immediately realized that my tent was ambushed by rain, so I stumbled into the backseat of my car, half asleep, and passed out.  I woke up a little later, a little discombobulated, and extremely grateful it had rained because the heat had broke, the backseat of my car turned out to be more comfortable than my tent, and I got to wake up to the smell of freshpost-rain air.

I started my day off with high energy beats from the Manhattan Project at the mainstage. Their music is a lot of fun to dance to, including a mix of house, dub, drums, bass.

El Ten Eleven made sure to articulate to their fans that they didn’t have any laptops/electronics and played like a traditional rock and roll band. It’s a strange concept to fathom, that it’s rare for a band today to use instruments that aren’t accompanied by electronics. Their set was great, really chill and definitely on the same wave length as Tycho. I also got see Minnesota at B.I.G. tent, who played some trap in his set, such as ‘RL Grim & Salva remix of ‘Mercy.’

I got to sit down and chat with Stiletto, a DJ from LA, in the artist lounge/media tent. We talked about the creative lifestyle, dedication, determination and passion. More importantly we talked about what it’s like being a female DJ in the EDM world (which is dominated by mostly male DJs.) Alicia, another female DJ I met, summed it up perfectly when she said she wants a t-shirt that says: “I’m not someone’s Girlfriend, I’m not a dancer, I’M A DJ!”
I caught the beginning of Lance Herbstrong’s set in the B.I.G. tent which I loved. One of the members introduced himself to me later that day as I awkwardly said, “I know who you are.” Even though our conversation was cut short because they were filming an interview, he was really down to earth, friendly and their set proved them to be musically gifted.

Atmostphere is one of my favorite hip hop groups of all time so I was psyched. Slug came on stage, wearing a “STEPHEN KING RULES” t-shirt, which I thought was awesome, and said “I’m afraid some of y’all didn’t shower today,” which was funny… because it’s true. So many fans, including myself, were chanting the lyrics to his songs, such as “Sunshine,” “God Loves Ugly,” and “Don’t Ever Fucking Question That.”

In between songs he said something to the crowd that really resonated with me.

“Let’s get real this is as close to church as a lot of us get, so make sure you make the most out of this mother-fucking moment because look around this is a small town, there’s a lot of people here right now having a good time together. […] Don’t nobody wanna be a puppet, we wanna be real children.”

Holy Fuck was fantastic, Big Gigantic killed it, opening with ‘Do I See Color,‘ and closing their set with Flux Pavillion‘s ‘Louder.‘ Bassnectar was great, aside from the reoccuring technical errors during his set, but he handled it with grace. If there was an award for the craziest crowd with the most energy and dedication, Bassnectar would win by a landslide.

Time seemed to be working in my favor as I made it just in time for Zoogma’s set in the Label tent which was amazing. They have an interesting sound, leaning more towards livetronica and trance fusion than anything else.

Overall, Camp Bisco 11 was awesome.  Not one band left a bad taste in my mouth and not one person rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m already looking forward to next year!

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by Allie Gangi

Photography by Allie Gangi