What you need to know from the very first Dirtybird Campout

San Francisco-based Dirtybird Records and the veteran experience creators from The Do Lab brought the label’s well-known camaraderie and playfulness to life for the first ever Dirtybird Campout. Hosted in Southern California’s Oak Canyon Park, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, the three-day event temporarily turned artists and fans into counselors and campers who played kickball to the soundtrack of signature Dirtybird bass beats and ate pizza served by Justin Martin. If you missed the first edition, here are some tips to get you prepared for the next Campout — we’re hoping it becomes a yearly tradition.

There was talent on both sides of the DJ booth

At the Bunkhouse, one of the largest structures besides the Birdhouse music stage, festival attendees — “campers” for the weekend — had the opportunity to show their skills. A talent show and campout comedy night featured both amateurs and professionals as late-night entertainment alternatives. There were plenty of opportunities for individual recognition at Dirtybird Campout, one of the many factors that set the unique gathering apart from the typical multi-day festival.

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Photo credit: Juliana Bernstein

Rain wasn’t enough to stop the revelry

Campers woke up Sunday morning to discover puddles outside, and even underneath, their tents and RVs. Gray skies and wet grass were no match for the loyalty and gumption of the Dirtybird crew, however. Campers who weathered the less-than-perfect conditions of day three were rewarded with sets from Benoit & Sergio, Dirtybird leading lady J. Phlip, a surprise set from Samo Sound Boy, and the back-to-back house goodness of the Dirtybird Family closing the night out.

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Photo credit: Watchara Phomicinda

Half of the action was away from the stage

The Campout organizers went to great and successful lengths to recreate childhood summer camp memories with Dirtybird’s inaugural gathering. Before music began, campers greeted the day with nature hikes led by local guides, and Vinyasa yoga led by DJs. In the swaths of green grass in Oak Canyon Park, there was volleyball, badminton, kickball, and mini golf. Sack races, slip-n-slides, and archery took place later in the afternoon, and for the artistically-inclined, there was tie-dye, face-and-body painting, screenprinting, and knot-tying. Row boats floated on the open lake, and a muddy but competitive tug-of-war took place on Sunday after the rain. Color wars and patch-earning opportunities provided a competitive edge for those who were looking for it.

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Photo credit: Wobsarazzi

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Photo credit: Juliana Bernstein

The after-hours stage made staying up for sunrise worth it

Music at the main stage turned off at 2 am, but the party continued at the innovative Late Night Lab until 7 am. Christian Martin played both after-hours labs, as the last set of the morning on Saturday, and with brother Justin in a rare joint performance from 6 to 7 am on Sunday. Nosaj Thing, Lunice, and Daniel Bell kept campers dancing long after lights-out in a stage designed by the Imagine Nation crew. For campers used to 11 pm noise curfews from traditional festivals, the on-site after-hours lab was another new experience that the campout provided. The close proximity to the action — some tents sat within yards of the festival entrance — kept the close-knit family feeling all weekend long.

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Photo credit: Wobsarazzi

A surprise set from Danny Daze gave a techno break to the house domination

Route 94 had to cancel his Saturday evening slot due to chronic bronchitis, but his replacement, Miami-based Danny Daze, was a more than sufficient alternative. The techno producer spliced minimal and hip-hop beats with soulful techno selections for ninety minutes, keeping with the irreverent sentiment of the weekend with a remix of Rappin’ 4-Tay’s “Playaz Club” before passing the torch to a back-to-back Jesse Rose vs. Doorly set. Danny Daze was one of two last-minute fill-ins for the weekend; Samo Sound Boy stepped in for Lee Foss on Sunday as well.

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 Photo credit: Watchara Phomicinda

‘Head Counselor’ Claude VonStroke played two separate sets

Label head Claude VonStroke drew the biggest crowd of campers all weekend for his Saturday evening closing set. The patriarch stayed true to character and performed in a patch-festooned outfit and coonskin cap, but his distinctive brand of house was as current as always. Along with signature tumbling bass wubs and originals like “Barrump,” VonStroke mixed in some newer remixes like his rendition of The Chemical Brother’s “Go” and Disclosure’s “Omen.” At the after-hours lab on Sunday morning, Barclay Crenshaw (VonStroke’s real name) spun an hour of West Coast bass before the Martin Brothers took over closing duties.

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Photo credit: Amanda McHugh

Justin Jay differentiated his set with live elements

Claude VonStroke signed Justin Jay when he was a college freshman, and four years later, the producer still holds the title of youngest Dirtybird family member. In his genre-spanning Friday set, Justin Jay demonstrated that his finger is glued to the pulse of the latest in music — electronic and otherwise. Those who beat Los Angeles traffic in time to make it in were able to witness a live guitarist that Jay brought out, one of the only live elements of the weekend. The crowd energy noticeably peaked during his smooth and groovy set, not returning to similar levels until Justin Martin closed the night out hours later.

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Photo credit: Juliana Bernstein

Counselors went to camp too: outside of their sets, artists were involved in the action

One of the most unique experiences that Dirtybird Campout had to offer was interaction with artists in a variety of ways. The number of attendees and the venue were small, so once DJs finished their set at the Birdhouse, there was a very probable likelihood of seeing them elsewhere in the venue with the general population. Ardalan played in a volleyball game, Justin Martin served pizza for an hour, Claude VonStroke met fans, and J. Phlip joined into the water balloon toss. It was a one-of-a-kind experience at a truly special event.

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Photo credit: Juliana Bernstein

Final thoughts

One of the benchmarks of success for music labels these days is to have a mission so clearly defined that it can be manifested as a signature event. For Mad Decent, it’s the Block Party, for Fool’s Gold it’s Day Off, and for Dirtybird, it is BBQs around the country and now, a multi-day campout. This label is the only one of its kind — for now — that can authentically pull off the campout experience like this, because it aligns perfectly with Dirtybird’s vision and mentality. An easy-going air of playfulness, relaxed family-style vibes, and almost non-existent boundaries between the artists and attendees made the first edition of Dirtybird Campout feel like it was already a long-established tradition.

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