Over this past weekend thousands of people gathered on Montage Mountain Ski resort for the return of Camp Bisco music festival. A festival that has been on hiatus for a year but had its rebirth moving from upstate New York to Scranton, Pa. While there was some disorganization upon entry to the festival grounds the four-hour wait time to enter was totally worth it.
Do not kid yourself when told you will be camping on a mountainside. Even those who were physically fit still struggled lugging all their gear up the mountain to create their weekend home base. Once that grueling experience was over it was time to explore the festival grounds.
Nothing was spared to create the perfect festival atmosphere. From having a shakedown street right before the festival entrance, to the water park inside, it was truly the perfect environment for a celebration of music. During the first day the grounds were filled with laughter and love for all attendees. You could see the joy in people’s eyes as they tubed down the water slides, floated in the lazy river, or just bounced around in the wave pool– which was certainly refreshing on Friday and Saturday when temperatures stretched above 85 degrees.
One of the first sets to open Camp was Zoogma at Above the Waves stage. The band definitely had a jamtronica vibe about them as they continued to build the crowd up especially with their own rendition of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.” The music apparently moved one individual to the point where he ran out of the wave pool and onto the stage, only to spear tackle the bassist Ryan Nall while breaking several pieces of equipment, however in true rock star fashion the band continued jamming until Ryan was able to rejoin them and finish their set with such high energy. Definitely gave everyone a little taste of just how crazy the weekend was about to be.
As the night continued, we headed to Electric City (the main stage), which was designed with pavilion style seating underneath a giant tent. When we arrived, Atmosphere was getting down. My favorite part of their set was hearing Slug announce, “There’s a good chance that at least one of you out there are gonna get pregnant tonight!!” Then closed with “God’s Bathroom Floor.”
As night fell we gathered in the pit to see the closing acts of Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) and Pretty Lights. I have never seen Sound Tribe and WOW did they blow me away. Alana Rocklin, bass, definitely brings a great vibe to the tribe—she is a phenomenal addition. Some of my favorite parts of their set was when they played “EHM” and a “Feeling Good” cover by Nina Simone.
Derek Smith, aka Pretty Lights, was DEFINITELY ready to give Camp Bisco quite the treat playing many of his throwbacks, from Total Fascination, Hot Like Sauce, to Pink Floyd’s Time remix. But I must admit, the highlight of the entire set was when he said “Bisco sometimes you need to go to the past to move to the future” as he proceeded to drop his remix of the Allman Brother’s Midnight Rider, which was quite fitting since Montage Mountain is the home of the Allman Brother’s Peach Music Festival, which will take place in a few weeks. It was quite comical when PL messed up and the music stopped completely, the crowd went while and then Derek just lit up a cigarette and smoked it while thousands of people watched, then started spinning again…when he was ready. The name Pretty Lights suits him well; the light show was completely mesmerizing to say the least. Bisco being the first time I’ve ever seen what Pretty Lights does, I can honestly say it was the best thing I’ve ever seen and heard simultaneously in my entire life. After PL, we headed up to the Disco Lodge for Freddy Todd’s late night set. He is definitely someone you want to see when given the chance!!
Other highlights from the weekend included top-notch Friday performances by HeRobust, The Disco Biscuits, and Big Gigantic. HeRobust mixed a dirty set including a cover of T’Wayne’s “Nasty Freestyle” (aka “first let me hop out the mother f*kng Porsche”).
Big G’s set included a few special guests, such as Snails who came out and joined Big G during their song Funk It Up, and Cherub who came out to join them for their song The Night is Young. I was at Electric Forest a couple weeks ago, and Big G closed the entire festival and man did I think they played phenomenally then…well, if one thing is for certain, just ONE song they threw down at Bisco blew their entire Forest set out of the water… and I say that about MANY overlapping performances.
It’s called Camp Bisco for a reason and that is because of the band who hosts this festival The Disco Biscuits, comprised of Marc Brownstein, bassist and front man, Allen Aucoin, drums, Jon Gutwillig, guitarist, and Aaron Magner, keyboardist. These four men came together and performed 6 absolutely breathtaking sets. The Biscuits opened up Friday night with their rendition of “1999” to get the crowd going! Marc Brownstein, aka Brownie, was quoted on how excited he was to the Biscuits 90’s jamming style, which they would call “rotation jams.” This was truly evident as it helped to “create patient jams that invariably get very out there before coming back around for the peak. It’s true band improv, with an emphasis on group think rather than solos and changes.”
This was very true and was seen multiple times throughout the weekend. In their six sets the Biscuits had brought out their good friend Tom Hamilton of American Babies, Electron, and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to open up Friday night with “Help on the Way”, and “Slipknot” by the Grateful Dead!
Later Friday night Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic came out to lay down some saxophone for a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” with the Biscuits and Tom Hamilton. The close out for Saturday night was beyond a standing ovation and truly gave the audience what they paid for! They even closed out their second set of the night was a cover of the Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia” which left the crowd completely mesmerized and screaming for more.
Sunday Manic Focus’ main stage performance was cut a little short due to alarming weather conditions. They rocked an awesome Eve and Gwen Stefani cover of “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” just before the rain postponed evening performances.
After storms passed the Disco Biscuits were scheduled to resume at 8:45 p.m. They opened a phenomenal set with a mind-blowing cover of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakv’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.”
As the sunset started painting the sky beautifully, there was a special kind of energy in the air as more and more “bassheads” filled the main stage area. Lorin Ashton was about to take the stage to grace Bisco with a completely magical Bassnectar set. The lights dimmed and the crowd erupted as he came on stage to begin his set.
Every audience member who was apart of the pavilion seating climbed on top of the seats to get ready for the most epic Bassnectar experience I have ever witnessed. I’ve seen Bassnectar quite a few times over the past two years, but I have never ever seen or heard a set as beautiful as the one he brought to Bisco, which brought actual tears to many in the crowd. He played a wide range of songs, new and old, such as Expanded ft. Illgates, Speaker Box, and Into the Sun. The visuals that accompanied his set fit perfectly, and took the crowd on a serious spiritual journey. “I was left speechless! It was truly a remarkable experience, a once in a life time set that he had created specifically for the festival goers of Camp Bisco XIII” says first time Bassnectar see-er, Dylan Antonucci.
Dave Tipper closed out the entire festival on Saturday night and WOW what a phenomenal performance. It is extremely hard to get a chance to see Tipper and I am more than glad I did! Jonathan Singer, who also did visuals for the Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Show in Chicago, was in charge of his visualizer which was done in GREAT quality. Tipper drew quite the crowd and threw down an amazing set. My favorite highlight was when he covered Lil Jon’s “Bend Ova”… it was complete genius!
There was not one single disappointing act this year! I can’t even find the words to describe how truly amazing this weekend was. Never did I think I could hear music that phenomenal, every artist that attended seriously brought the heat and showed their respect for Camp Bisco‘s return. I can’t imagine what Camp Bisco XIV will have in store next year but one thing is for certain, they will have to do something even bigger if they want to top this year’s event!