Day one of Camp Bisco, a jam band/electronic music festival held in Mariaville, New York July 11-13th, actually got it's start in the wee hours of the morning as cars full of eager festival goers piled through the grounds of Indian Lookout Country Club, filled with bodies and much needed camp supplies. The sun was out, doing little to dry the mud-caked fields of the festival grounds, but wasn't about to stop the over 30,000 stomping, dancing, rage pole carrying frenzied music fans from enjoying the good vibes and great sounds of this anything goes festival. On first arrival at Bisco grounds, your paraded through a sea of tents filled with happy campers, expressive personal art displays, and overfilled water stations waiting to be emptied in the days to come. Entrance through the Main Gate puts you straight into the fiery sounds of Main Stage acts, a row of food vendors and a general store providing ticket holders with a one stop shop for forgotten camping necessities, and any edible delight your heart could desire.
The grounds were split up with two Main Stages at one end of the massive field and two huge dance tents at the other. There were also several other attractions for attendees to take in beyond the normal array of vendors and bumping music. Almost a festival staple, Bisco had it's own giant Ferris Wheel, with accompanying alternating light displays set to change throughout the night. This ride provided a much needed cool down from the heights of the July heat, as well as an unparalleled view of the entirety of Camp Bisco. As views go, a steep climb up the scaffolding of Bisco's giant air mat jump, also showed a side of Bisco unseen by those who stuck to the ground. Flying through the air to bounce up and down on this extreme cushion showed moments of awesome skill, and personal triumph. After witnessing one patron climb all the way up, and then proceed to allow others to pass him at the top while he mustered up the courage to jump himself, true good vibes and togetherness spirit overcame the crowd who erupted with cheers each time he reached the edge. Finally one other jumper refused to go until he took his turn, and with the crowd clapping and cheering he walked his way off the edge. That's just the spirit of Bisco. Help others, and spread love and kindness.
Caught up in the awe of everything, the first act we caught was Flosstradamus. Filled with excitement, and pumped to get the crowd going Floss broke down some sick trap mixes. “Sneezed on the Track” and “Original Don” gave the set a rap show feel, with Flosstradamus interjecting here and there to keep the crowd on his level. He bounced around with tempo, even throwing some slow jams in to keep the crowd guessing and give a break for the sweaty heat of the twisting bodies in the Label Tent. As daylight set over the grounds of Camp Bisco it was clear this was only the beginning of what the night had in store for us.
Up next were upbeat dubstep and electro-house mixes of Alvin Risk. The crowd was smiling and dancing with such ferocity the tent became like a happy hotbox. Rage poles were at the ready, ranging from photos of Bob Saget and Charlie Sheen, to patio umbrellas that looked more like sea creatures than lawn shades. I could sit here and write a whole article on rage poles alone. The creativity and ingenuity in the sticks and poles and floats, (yes there was even a float like object that depicted a cabin with Bisco written all over it, requiring almost four people to hold), is artistically astounding. But that's exactly what Camp Bisco and these summer festivals are all about. And I'm sure you'd rather here more about the music.
Next up was the mysteriously dark artist known as UZ. With stage lights darkened over head, a creepy gas masking covering nearly all of his face, and an eerie fog surrounding him, UZ seemed like more of an apparition than an actual artist. His music however was very, very real. The simplistic and dark attributes to UZ's thumpy trap beats kept the crowd in an almost zombie like state, creeping and bending into the beats. Uz is definitely an act to watch as his shadowing set left you wondering what was that? And where can I hear more?
Changing the pace around was the ever energetic and hilarious Dillion Francis. Sandwiched between two giant inflatable cats with the word “fuck” across the chest, Dillion Francis' set played like listening to music with your best friends. Visuals behind him ranging from his head on a miniaturized version of himself running out into the crowd to passages about cats and his dad. Dressed in a suit, Francis commented on his own attire and then blared a remix of “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake, stating “He's not the only one looking good in a suit and tie.” When one spectator threw an inflatable shark towards the stage he just jumped out, grabbed it, and threw it back towards the crowd. He play a diverse grouping of songs from a “Brush Your Shoulders Off” remix to a mash up of “I.D.G.A.F.O.S” and his new single, “Not Butter.” Then Flux Pavilion came out.
The two acted like brothers working in unison to keep the pace going and hype each other up. The crowd went wild at the first sight of blond shiny hair working across the stage and the love for both Flux and Francis could be felt way outside the tent. Working the crowd into a frenzy the two played off each other's energy forcing the crowd's excitement with taunts like “if you're not clapping you're a pussy” and “is that the loudest you can get.” As the two hugged it out and Flux left the stage, Dillion Francis killed his set in a flashy, over the top explosion of lights and sound.
As the first night of Bisco came to a close and we made our way past the vendors music could still be heard from vendor tents. DJ Pinz n' Needlez was spinning sick tunes into the late hours at the Energems tent and we realized just how special this place was. We knew we were in for one of the craziest and musically inventive weekends of our lives…..
Photos courtesy of Kristina Kauffman.