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Camp Bisco 11: jam bands, electronic music, and everything in between

An easy road trip north of New York City brought us to the grounds of the Disco Biscuit’s 11th annual Camp Bisco. A land far removed from our conventional lifestyles was home to the east coast’s most superior three-day camping music festival. Once predominately jam-band centric, this year’s line up included many new-age electronic music acts. Along with the Biscuits, festival headliners included Bassnectar and Skrillex, and reached subgenres far in between jamtronica, dubstep, electro, and house. In addition, A-Trak and Skrillex hosted their own label tents and brought some friends along the way. 

A schedule refinement from last year allowed festival-goers to arrive one night earlier. This spread out the time that people could arrive and made entering the campgrounds quick and seamless.  Hippies and rave kiddies packed the festival grounds as everyone prepared for three long days of partying, eclectic music, and great vibes.

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What separates the Camp Bisco experience from other festivals is undoubtedly its lineup and location. As for the music, the diverse lineup meant a diverse crowd of people coming together to explore new genres and bond over new experiences.  The location was set on Indian Lookout Country Club, which is less than a five-hour drive from major hubs like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.

Thursday night belonged to the Toronto duo Zeds Dead. Their 6:00 PM set time meant people had just spent the day driving, unpacking, and settling into their weekend abodes. Around that time the sun started to set which meant the festival was fully underway. Thousands of people packed the main stage area for one of the best sets of the weekend. When Zeds’s acclaimed “Hit Me” went off, one thing was made crystal clear: Camp Bisco’s sound production team had one goal in mind – and that was an abomination of bass – enough bass to make your spine tingle and inner organs vibrate uncontrollably.

Zeds Dead – Hit Me (Original Mix)

After Zeds Dead set Camp Bisco off, dubstep faithfuls migrated to the B.I.G. Tent to catch Alvin Risk. Some notable tracks played were his remixes to “Eyes” and “We Are Young.” The dubstep marathon didn’t end there as people returned to the main stage for Skrillex’s headlining set. Following Skrillex, the first of a whopping six Disco Biscuits performances took place, and the night ended in the tents with a surprise back-to-back set from Zedd and Porter Robinson. At this point, it was after 3:30 in the morning, and the option to go to silent disco was still on the table. If you’ve never tried a silent disco, it’s a common nighttime activity at camping music festivals where two DJs spin separate sets in the same room, and people wear headphones provided by the silent disco in which you can pick which DJ to listen to. You can tell who is listening to which channel based on how they’re moving to the music – it’s quite entertaining, actually. We opted to turn in for the night, but for people who wanted more, there seemed to be something to do at all hours of the day.

Kaskade ft. Mindy Gledhill – Eyes (Alvin Risk Remix)

Fun. Ft Janelle Monae – We Are Young (Alvin Risk Remix)

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We started Friday off in the B.I.G. tent for some groovy, bass-dropping tech house by Orchard Lounge. The Chicago trio, who are actually 2/3 a married couple, packed the tent with people letting loose to some house music in its purest form. We headed over to the main stage to see Big Boi, but claims of a delay at the Canadian border forced him to start 40 minutes late and play into Lotus’s time slot.

Lotus was one of the highlights of the day because bands like them make Camp Bisco what it is. Their dance heavy beats, synths, and samples allow them to play any kind of festival.  Their style meets in the middle of instrumental rock and pure electronic dance music. From Lotus we bounced to Emancipator – who were filling in for Shpongle – who invited Dominic Lalli, the saxophonist from Big Gigantic, on stage to play alongside. Their eclectic style packed the B.I.G. tent out and we could see why – they provided a mixture of noises that were easy to like and fun to get down to.

As nighttime settled, we headed to the main stage for Amon Tobin to catch the perfect combination of world-class production and heavy bass music. The night continued with another jam band session from the Disco Biscuits, and finished with progressive house mashup artist, 3lau, and dance music favorites, Dada Life.

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The last and final day provided the most stacked lineup of the entire weekend. We caught hip-hop’s favorite underground act Atmosphere for some throwback jams. After reminiscing to “Sunshine” and “God Loves Ugly,” we saw the Disco Biscuits offer a refreshingly different fifth set of the weekend and prepared ourselves for evening’s headliners. Big Gigantic played a set mixed with jazz, dubstep, drum and bass, and brought it all together with impeccable live mixing. Their sound is so unique that at a festival as diverse as Camp Bisco they still managed to stand out amongst the rest. Bassnectar was back for the fifth consecutive year and played a bass heavy set to the most energetic crowd of the weekend.

We wrapped up the weekend with Dillion Francis’s display of moombahton, trap, and dubstep, and stayed planted for A-Trak’s mixture of house, techno, electro, and funk. The night came to an end with a perfect tech house closing set by Simian Mobile Disco, who have been exploring outside their disco roots and into the pastures of underground house music.

Final Thoughts

All in all, from start to finish, Camp Bisco was full of good times and great vibes. Festival staff were friendly and organized, bathrooms were plentiful and maintained, and lines to get food and beverages were never too long. One thing we recommend that would make the festival a much more enjoyable experience is to explore options in controlling the unfathomable amount of dust in the air. Sending water trucks around didn’t do much but create unwanted puddles of mud. Made Event suffered a similar problem with Electric Zoo in years past, but was able to remedy it with rubber padding in key locations. Although this isn’t a fix for the entire festival, it will most certainly alleviate the dust inside the tents where the majority of dancing takes place. Camp Bisco was a great experience for anyone trying to escape the real world and camp with some friends and enjoy an electric style of music. We’ll be sure to be there next year and we hope to see you there too!