Beats, Bikinis, and Bisco: Identity Festival Comes to Camden
Review by: Zack Weinstein
Photographs by: Andrew Swartz
On Friday, August 19th, as Identity Festival and it’s monster lineup made its way to Camden, NJ, so did thousands of sweaty neon-wearing electronic music junkies, hailing from all of the greater Philadelphia area. To those of you surprised by the choice in tour stop and not familiar with the Philly area, Camden, NJ is an extension to Philadelphia’s concert circuit, located directly across the river. And on that overcast Friday, The Susquehanna Bank Center, formerly known as the Tweeter Center, became an oasis to a crowd of people with a proclivity to party. What better place to party than at an electro festival.
Over the past decade, ‘the music festival’ has had a significant resurgence in the US. Each year festivals are gaining more hype, attracting more and more fans, and as a result can afford bigger and better all-star line-ups. The success is obvious when looking at the coverage from massive fests like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and the many other festivals popping up across the country. It was only a matter of time before electronic music became a stronger force in the festival phenomena.
Electronic music has always had its loyal following, but until recently it was more noticeable in other parts of the world, especially Europe. As of late, more specifically the last two years, electronic music has made its own incredible comeback in the United States. DJs and other electronic act are no longer stuck playing small nightclubs. With the recent rise in popularity of Dubstep, House, and electronic music as a whole, these artists are now blessed to play much larger stages with significantly larger crowds.
Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and the Winter Music Conference used to seemingly be the only chance for electronic musicians to group together and perform in front of a huge audience. But now, the Identity Festival provides a massive festival tour, stopping in over twenty cities and is said to be directly leading up to it’s grandiose finale at Ultra in Miami, where electronic music has always flourished in the US.
On its 7th tour stop in Camden, Identity Festival opened its three stages decorated with the names and products of major sponsors at 1 PM to an enthusiastic, yet somewhat small crowd. But from that point onward, modestly dressed girls and fist-pumping electro music enthusiasts with their hula-hoops and glow sticks in hand, continued to poor in through the pavilion doors. As dusk arrived, the energy was nothing less than ecstatic with sweat and water bottles flying in all directions. For the opening hours, fans chests were thumped and arms flailed to the beats, wobbles, and drops of notable artists such as Datsik, Nero, The Crystal Method, Chuckie and Holy Ghost!.
Unfortunately around 7 PM, the overcast skies turned into some pretty heavy rain and as a result the outdoor stages were closed down. However, the main stage continued under the cover of a pavilion rooftop, though some fans still danced on the lawn in the rain. Electronic superstars Avici and Kaskade’s sets were unaffected, while other artists were sadly unable to perform. However, fans were soon electrified. Not by lightning, but by Steve Aoki, who was originally billed to headline an outdoor stage, announcing that he was going to play a 45-minute set on the main stage after Kaskade finished his slot. While some fans felt the raindrops falling on their heads outside on the lawn, Aoki fans under the rooftop were in awe when they felt the rain of Moet as the DJ sprayed champagne over the lucky fans up front.
Around 11 PM The Disco Biscuits, or known as ‘Bisco’ to loyal fans, finally took the stage and announced that they would be playing until 1 AM. Bisco, typically described as a jam band, still wowed fans, old and new, with their nonstop jammy-electro set. The four piece Philadelphia natives are not new to the festival concept. In fact they run and headline their own festival, Camp Bisco, annually. This year at Camp Bisco there was a little animosity between fans attending for the jam bands and fans attending for electronic artists. Overall the festival was a success, seeing a spike in attendance from 15,000 to around an estimated 25,000.
Even though, at ID Fest The Disco Biscuits famed laser light-show was not present, intense visuals still accompanied the band’s fantastic set of new songs and fan favorites. Bisco played “Great Abyss”, “Spraypaint”, and “Bombs” all featured on their new album Otherwise Law Abiding Citizens, released this year. But they did not leave loyal Bisco fans high and dry as they busted out “Morph” during their encore. Overall they put on a very passionate set that highlighted how much the band has managed to evolve their sound over the years and still remain true to what they do best, which is put on a heartfelt performance with guitar leads, beats, and bass-lines in all.
Despite the weather, Identity Festival in Camden was a great success. Fans left the Susquehanna bank center sweaty, satisfied, and exhausted. Although some fans still had bouncing energy as they exited the venue doors. Identity Festival continues throughout the country through September and will surely please ravers and party-goers every stop along the way.