Road to Camp Bisco – Connor Lavin
Roughly three years ago, I along with some other freshly-graduated from high school friends, had been talked into buying tickets to Camp Bisco 11 by my lovely Biscuit-head of a sister and a veteran who had attended her first Bisco way back in 08′. The only festival I had ever attended was Sunset Music Festival in Tampa, FL, which was only one day and a very short commute for me, especially in comparison with the drive to Bisco. The fact that we were all festy noobs wasn’t too bad considering we had my sister to show us the ropes, and she did. She wrote an elaborately detailed list of things to pack and prepare for, and we did so accordingly. Alas, we hit the road in my Corolla from Jacksonville, FL all the way to the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY.
After a ridiculously long 20 or so hours of driving, arriving at those campgrounds and seeing everybody smiling from ear to ear and ecstatic to just be there, to be back to the place that they call home and simply standing on that land, was a purely blissful feeling; I had suddenly understood why my sister among others had to keep coming back to Camp Bisco each year – and I was only in the midst of setting up my tent. After our campsite had been beautified and strewn with Biscuit decor, things escalated quickly. Debauchery had begun immediately and we were ready to explore the site and see the stages.
I had only really been into electronic music for a little under two years when I went to my first Camp Bisco, so seeing huge headliners like Bassnectar, Skrillex, Zeds Dead and Porter Robinson for the first time on the big screen introduced me to an entirely different side of EDM; I had never felt so large and so little at the same time. We were just tiny specks among a crowd of dancing people, just another couple of faces in the crowd, but being in those moments, flailing around without a care in the world to magical music with my friends and family, made me feel like I was a part of something colossal, something far more than just a music festival. And we most certainly were.
Although I considered myself mildly experienced in the electronic scene from going to shows frequently throughout high school, I knew absolutely nothing about who and what the hell a Disco Biscuit was, nor had I any legitimate thoughts about what a jam-band sounded like. I’m secure enough with my developed taste in music to admit that I was quite a rave-baby back in the day, and was a tad hesitant as to if I would enjoy the live music even remotely close as to how much I enjoyed watching the DJs perform, but hey, nobody had taught me better at the time. I had only heard some of the Biscuits’ studio stuff and recorded songs from shows, and I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t too impressed. And I continued to remain unimpressed until I witnessed The Disco Biscuits perform live at Bisco 11. The way they mesmerized the crowd with their original tracks and performed impromptu introversions and extended versions of songs throughout their sets was unlike anything I had ever seen. They created such a busy and high-energy environment through sound every time they took the stage, incorporating a multitude of instruments and tempos into their performance that remains unpredictable and surprising. Just as I was beginning to fall into a Biscuit-induced trance, thinking that life couldn’t possibly get any more amazing at that moment – BAM! They hit me. Lasers. The most intense, beautiful and vividly colored beams filled the skies like a color storm and flowed with the rhythms of the music. I had to step back for a moment from the madness to take in everything occurring around me, which was overwhelming and soothing at the same time.
Having been first introduced to electronic music by the one-and-only Bassnectar, I could hardly contain my giddy fan-girl state to see the master-mind who started it all for me at Bisco. Hearing him drop some of my favorite nectar tracks like “What” and his remix to the Daladubz track “Pink Elephants on Parade” was surreal, until devastation ensued at the conclusion of his set when the sound system experienced some technical difficulties. Once I faced the realization that the conditions weren’t going to improve, I embarked on a new journey to one of the tent stages for some upbeat tunes from the likes of Dada Life. Instantly, we were immersed in the land of Dada, tossing around floats shaped like bananas and champagne bottles while jumping around like animals. Skrillex was blowing up around this time, and seeing him perform along with others who were up-and-coming at the time such as Zeds Dead, Big Gigantic and Kill The Noise was pure euphoria. But we were in for a real treat when we saw Amon Tobin Isam, who blew minds with his experimental electronic sound enhanced by a state-of-the-art and outer-wordly visual display. See below for a more thorough visual explanation.
I was the epitome of a jam band/jamtronica band novice, and quickly became entranced with the scene in its entirety once I was exposed to it. Speaking to long-time Biscuits fans was one of my favorite parts of Camp. Hearing their backgrounds and stories from previous shows and festivals was humbling, and conversing with certain fans who had traveled many more miles than I had on countless occasions to see the Disco Biscuits perform over the years was incredible. To understand the loyalty between the fans and the band was beautiful, to think about how many hours and dollars these people had invested just to see their favorite group play again and again was inspiring, and Camp Bisco was home to them. A blissful Biscuit-filled paradise. It wasn’t very far into my first Bisco that I too had realized Camp Bisco was a place that I could call home, that we could all call home; anyone and everyone who attends this loving, judgement-free, positive-energy filled musical wonderland.
Because I can’t not include the classic porta-potty pic….enjoy.
If you’ve ever been to Camp, you know that you can’t go just once. The festival is truly magnetic, and I knew once I had one year of Bisco under my sleeve, I would be back for more, like a moth to a flame. And I was. With my same crazy random assortment of friends and family who pretty much only came together once a year for this very event. So 2013 came along and Bisco number 12 came with it, forcing us all to make that trek once again, and we were ecstatic to do so. Bisco had quickly made a mark on us, and it allowed us to leave our own impressions upon it.
I hadn’t stopped reliving memories from my first year at Bisco when I was preparing to embark on another journey to the motherland, and the advantage of my second year over the first was that I was far more thoroughly prepared for the ultimate festival camping experience, and any undesirable weather conditions that would most likely occur (let’s just say the rain really loves Camp). Returning headliners including Bassnectar, Lotus, Zeds Dead, Gramatik, and of course multiple sets from the Disco Biscuits. STS9, Flux Pavilion, Dillon Francis, Umphrey’s McGee, Animal Collective, Destroid and more were included in the lineup as well.
Returning to the Indian Lookout Country Club brought me back to happier times once again, and once again we temporarily said goodbye to the real world for a dose of pure music euphoria. Multiple magical moments ensued throughout the weekend, as expected, like when Bassnectar did a closing bit involving RATM’s “Killing in the Name of” which was almost seamlessly picked up by the Biscuits in a live performance of the track. And a Bassnectar/Disco Biscuits RATM cover isn’t something that happens on the daily. Only at Bisco, kids.
Our neighbors played a crucial part of the magic as well. The music is the most important factor in a festival, but environment and company are close seconds. Especially when you’re field camping and your neighbors are practically camped on top of you, a very intimate environment that pretty much forces you to make new friends. Luckily, both years our camping partners were a joy to be around, courteous, and downright outrageous. We shared some pretty hilarious times back at the camp site, and also, most of them were from New Jersey and New York, so naturally I was overly entertained by their thick Northern accents. I have yet to be dissatisfied with my neighbors at either Camp Biscos, I honestly believe there are some patrons there solely for my entertainment purposes; I can recall multiple accounts where I was in tears at a few points during my second Bisco from my neighbors telling me stories so ridiculous about their nights that you wouldn’t believe. Surprisingly enough, the phrase “POOPFEST 2013” was something that stuck with me (weird, I know), and it came about Saturday evening after Destroid concluded when my neighbors stumbled back to our campsite, then continued to enlighten us with a rumored story about how a fellow festival-goer stomping around at Destroid perhaps got a little too out of control, and then proceeded to defecate in the middle of the dance tent, which we presumed was unintentional; clearing everybody within a 10-15 ft. radius out of sight. We all came to the conclusion that he just wanted some space to dance, and he was willing to go to extreme measures to do so. Only at Bisco could you turn such a grotesque event into something hilarious that was a part of one of the best nights of your life.
As lucky number 13 for Bisco approaches rapidly, the Bisco butterflies have started to form, and the road trip preparation has begun once again. Surely this year is projected to be slightly different than the usual Bisco, given we are embarking on a new journey with a brand new venue. Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania will host the 2015 Camp Bisco Music and Arts Festival, and this beautiful and scenic pavilion area offers amenities such as a water park and even a zip-line for patrons to enjoy. The lineup for the 13th iteration of CB is nothing short of spectacular, as expected, including the standard multiple sets from the Disco Biscuits, along with Bassnectar, a Camp veteran having performed multiple consecutive years at Bisco before, along with Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Tipper, Atmosphere, and more. This year we will add another chapter to the book, embark on yet another magical music-filled positive vibe-fueled adventure, leaving all expectations at home; because no matter what you think is going to happen at Bisco, you are always in for a surprise – discovering something new musically, spiritually, environmentally. Treat yourself and become a part of something bigger in the festival world, something monumental, forever changing and advancing but always staying true to its roots.
If you have ever attended Camp Bisco, we at Sensible Reason would love to hear your festival stories and are accepting submissions for our Road to Camp Bisco series, which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can check out many, many more RTCB’s and read about all of the joys Bisco brings to those who attend at Sensible Reason.