CAMP BISCO 9 : Bigger, Longer & Uncut
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two weeks since music lovers from across the country met, in a 200-acre field just west of Albany known simply to them as ILCC. Indian Lookout Country Club is normally home to The Harley Rendezvous – a biker festival. But for the past three years the bikers have lent their land to another group of social rebels for one glorious weekend of the summer. This year, Camp Bisco 9 called ILCC home from July 15-17 and along with it came 15,000 fans, adorned in their most outrageous and colorful outfits (a.k.a. “rage gear”).
This year was my fourth Camp Bisco, and also my fourth time at ILCC. Although I had the inclination this year would be bigger than others in the past, I wasn’t expecting the amount of people and traffic we endured that Thursday morning. After four long hours of sitting in our cars and waiting in the sweltering heat we finally made it through the gates. It was an exciting moment, but there was no time to relax.
We set up our campsite and picked up the official Camp Bisco Festival Handbook that guided us through the biggest Camp to-date. Our first stop was the Dance Tent to see Orchard Lounge at 4:20. The three Chicago-based DJs put on a high energy set which was a great way to start the weekend’s festivities. After OL’s midday dance party was done we took shelter in a friend’s RV and rested up for one of six scheduled sets from festival throwers, The Disco Biscuits.
Before heading down to the Biscuits set my friends and I made a bet on what the opening song would be. The winner would collect a grand prize of $70. “Housedog Party Favor” to open the festival didn’t produce a winner, but fortunately for us it led to a fun first night of Biscuits. The “Housedog” was short and not really one of my top choices for an opener, but what followed was a well played “Crickets” into a rare inverted “Abyss.” My personal highlight from this set was “The Tunnel,” another rarity.
Colorado-based DJ Pretty Lights threw down on the newly added 2nd stage in between The Biscuits and headliners LCD Soundsystem. LCD Soundsystem was one of the sets I was most excited for that weekend and everything they did went above and beyond my expectations. Frontman James Murphy was theatrical, emotional and simply awesome to watch onstage. They rocked hits from their latest album like “Drunk Girls,”‘Pow Pow,” and “I Can Change” as well as some old favorites (“Losing My Edge” and a slower version of “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”). The closer to the set was “New Y
ork I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down” with a short cover of Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” It was just short enough to not sound cheesy and also appropriate seeing as they are from NY and that’s where the festival was held. Their set seemed short and left me wanting more.
That night we caught Holy Fuck in the late night dance tent, which had been moved to a newer, dryer location this year. Their live show was not what I was expecting, kind of like a mash-up of random sounds over soothing ocean noises. At points I thought it sounded similar to whales or dolphins mating- interesting to say the least. After their set we hiked it all the way across the festival back to our campsite. We walked by the hill stage and saw the fenced off area where the next couple nights would eventually take us- the Silent Disco.
On Friday, Beats Antique started the day at the Main Stage. We caught their set and got some food at one of the many vendors that suddenly appeared this year- another great thing about Camp 9. In years past food vendors were very scarce and what was there could pretty much make you sick. This year I dined on veggie burritos and mozzarella sticks and there were also endless places to buy cold water and beer. Big Gigantic put on an amazing set and the Wu Massacre (Method Man, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killa) stole the show that day. They followed the trends of hip hop acts in the past and came on fashionably late, but the wait was worth it. They were enjoying watching the crowd and could tell we were all having a blast too.
The Album Leaf came on after at the second stage and I stuck around to check them out. I had never even heard of these guys before but I was pleasantly surprised with their music. It was a change of pace from the loud, bassy dance beats put on by almost every other act at Camp. Their sound is mellow and very relaxing and I enjoyed it a lot. Thievery Corporation was next headliner to take the stage and they were amazing as always. It’s almost impossible to watch them and not dance because their drum beats are so powerful and never ending. Major Lazer, a DJ group made up of Diplo and Switch, was next and they were also full of high energy. We watched from the side stage while securing a front row spot for the Biscuits’ set. It was fun to watch the crowd go crazy jumping up and down almost in sync.
Finally, after holding down the rail for all of Major Lazer’s set, the Biscuits came on and showed everyone why this is their festival. They debuted one of the fan written set lists with “Morph.” More importantly, they debuted the most talked about aspect of the weekend: the lasers. Now, the Biscuits are known for their light show, but this light show was like nothing any of us has ever seen. In true Biscuits form the lasers seemed to go along with the music effortlessly. But let’s get back to the music… “Morph” segued into “Spaga”
and then into one of the best jams of the weekend with and inverted “Abraxas.” Next was an extremely well executed “Voices Insane” that went back into “Spaga” and ended back where they started with “Morph.” The whole band was on point during this set. (Bassnectar played in between the two Biscuit’s sets that night and it was mediocre at best.)
Second set finally crowned a winner to the raffle/bet we had made the day before. Fan favorite “7-11” to open made my friend Megan 70 bucks richer. After a long and very built up jam out of “7-11” they finally dropped into the middle section of “Little Betty Boop”- this was the highlight of the set for me because it was one song I really wanted to hear. Next was” Tricyle” and “Orch Theme” followed by a new song called “Bombs” that segued into “Sweating Bullets,” another rare song played that weekend. “Naeba” to end the set was a little lackluster seeing as bassist Marc Brownstein preceded it by saying it was the most requested song by fans. Basically, we expected something different. Overall, the first set was really what did it for me Friday night and was probably the best of the weekend.
I caught some of Diplo at the late night tent but was saving my energy for Future Rock and then Orchard Lounge’s sunrise Silent Disco set. Both were great. The feature of switching in between DJs on your headphones was cool but I mostly kept it on Future Rock while they played, and OL when they followed. The Silent Disco was a great addition to Camp and I hope they do it again next year. The one downfall would be the huge lines that I didn’t personally encounter but heard about from other people all weekend. Simple solution for next year: get more headphones.
Saturday I caught C-mon and Kyspki, an electronic and indie-ish band from the Netherlands that combines synthesizer mastery with keys and guitars and every other sound in between. According to Esquire magazine this is “the hot shit in Europe right now.” Too bad they don’t play in the U.S. that often.
Next up was the set that Biscuit’s bassist Brown
stein later referred to via his Facebook page as being “for the heads.” Assuming that the casual Biscuit fans would be still be sleeping (this set was at 2 PM) the band figured this would be a good time to play some bust-outs for the hardcore fans. “On Time” was the opener that went into a crowd pleasing “Aceetobee.” Keyboardist Aaron Magner was really on during this set. I always enjoy when he plays the classical piano instead of the usual space-like synth sounds. “Aceetobee” progressed smoothly and dropped into “Mr. Don.” Finally, Barber’s flawless guitar work led us into a huge surprise: “Pat and Dex”- a song that hasn’t been played in over three years. The crowd went wild and the whole band had huge smiles on their faces- especially my boyfriend Rob who had just celebrated his 100th show the night before. “Wet,” another song not played often, ended the set.
Telepath followed the Biscuits on Saturday and we also saw a few minutes of Derek Plaslaiko’s set in the dance tent. At this point everyone seemed to be checking their phones and talking to the bikers about the weather because it really hadn’t rained much that weekend. Besides a few sprinkles midday Friday we lucked out with sunny skies. Still, anyone who has been to ILCC for Camp in the recent past knew we had to be in for some kind of thunderstorm before the weekend was over.
Ween headlined that night and put on an amazing show. Their guitar work was out of this world and many were absolutely blown away by their set. Not being that familiar with their songs, I was really happy when they ended the set with a cover of David Bowie’s “Just Dance.” After Ween, Brothers Past came on the second stage and started out with a bang. The Philadelphia-based boys were had one of the best time slots of the weekend and you could tell they were ready to rock.
Unfortunately the skies began to change behind them into dark clouds full of lightening. Security shut down their set saying lightening was coming and it would be too dangerous to continue playing any music. The festival was temporarily shut down. Everyone ran back to their campsites as we were told to “take shelter” and we waited while it drizzled a little bit, nothing major. After a few minutes we heard music and BP was back on stage. They picked up right where they left out and everyone was really enjoying it. Unfortunately the storms started picking back up and their set was once again cut short. We were told for the second time, but with more force, to take shelter in our cars until further notice.
After what seemed like two hours we finally heard music back on the main stage. It was Girl Talk whose set was cut extremely short due to the weather. Finally the Biscuits came on and, unfortunately, only played one of two scheduled sets for the last night of camp. They did, however, make up for it by playing an amazing and very long set.
A standalone “Portal” started it out and everyone seemed very pleased. They even brought out RAQ guitarist Chris Michetti who toured with the Biscuits over the spring tour when guitarist Jon Gutwillig (Barber) was out due to a wrist injury. As the rain st
arted to come back and drizzle lightly we were treated to an amazing light show that could only be described as “sparkling mutli-colored rain drops.” What followed was the dance party we had all been waiting for. Mindless Dribble into Shem Ra Boo was pure bisco. Next they played another fan request: the Knight Rider theme song which was very fun and much unexpected. Afterwards they jammed into an extra funky Basis that segued into inverted Above the Waves- an old school pairing got the whole crowd moving. The rest of the set was madness: Munchkin Invasion>Lunar Pursuit>Munchkin Invasion>Basis was some of the best stuff from the weekend. There was not one point during the end of that set where I even had a chance to talk to one of my friends because everyone was so into the music. It was a great way to end the best Camp Bisco to date. Still I would have loved to have had that one extra set.
The late night Dance Tent that night was much anticipated and I have to say it was a big let down. Rusko was a little more mellow than I would have anticipated and I spent most of his set backstage drinking beers and making new friends. Finally Aeroplane came on and it was not exactly what any of us were expecting. I had recently seen Aeroplane as a duo of DJs from Belgium at Bisco Inferno.
Unfortunately, the two called it quits and now only one is continuing on with the name Aeroplane. His set was lackluster and didn’t keep my attention half as much as the pair did a few months earlier in Colorado.
That night we didn’t make it back to the Silent Disco as planned, and instead soaked up what last bit of Camp we could with friends we rarely get to see unless it’s at occasions such as this. The good thing about Camp Bisco is you don’t have to be at the main stage, or dance tent, or even the silent disco to be absorbed in music. It’s everywhere. It’s on shakedown at the vendors’ booths, it’s at the RVs where some random DJ has set up his turntables, and it’s bumping from people’s cars at their camp sites ‘til the wee hours of the morning. It’s a beautiful thing and a sad place to leave.
I heard so many people on that last morning saying the same exact thing: “Great, another 365 more days until Camp 10.” And it’s true- we really do start looking forward to it that soon after it ends. It’s like our Christmas. Actually, it’s better than Christmas- it’s Camp.