As the day began on day two of Camp Bisco, the sights and smells were like awakening to an adult themed summer camp. Breakfast was cooking on the grills, both vegetarian and non to suit ones taste, people were lining up for their turn for a shower, ready to wash away the mud from a previous nights raging, and games were a foot. And by games I mean an all out war…of color. The Color Wars have been a tradition at Bisco for the past nine years, and when we happened upon them it looked like this years competition was tight. Groups were formed by people signing up ahead of time, and some just showing up and getting into the mix. There was a super intense game of limbo going pitting the purple and orange teams against each other with an emcee there to officiate that looked like a member of the “It's Always Sunny” crew, drink always in hand. These games, while startlingly competitive, (I did hear a girl get a little feisty with a limbo pole holder when she felt the pole had been lowered farther than it should have been), overall were about having a blast and working together.
After meandering through Color Wars and back through the festival gates, we spent the beginning of our time admiring the tremendously beautiful artwork brought by both the Bisco featured artists and the vendors themselves. In the middle of the open field that sat between the Main Stages and the Dance Tents, there was a pyramid structure containing three blank canvases on each side, and several on the inside, that were given to an artist to do with whatever they wanted. As the three days went on the paintings would morph into diverse creations to be enjoyed by everyone. There were also walls with boxes of chalk attached to them where people could write their favorite things about Bisco, what their time there meant to them, or well basically anything. Amidst the obvious genital drawings and urban taggings, there were sweet sentiments. One wall with the words “While at Camp I…” had a message etched in yellow “MARRY MY BEST FRIEND” and another wall, while only able to be seen while standing further back had a message all it's own : Just Live. Along with these larger Bisco installments, there were several artists who had their own vendor booths set up throughout the Merch areas. From sculpture and handmade crafts to paintings and jewelry these artisans gave Camp Bisco a marketplace feel, without the whole corporate retail effect. Everything came from a small vendor or artist who appreciated praise for their work almost as much as a sale. When a culture as creative as those who go to these kinds of music festivals, (the outfits, the rage poles, the signs, oh my), get together it's nice to have a marketplace community that gets that creativity and fosters more self expression.
After milling about through art, and food, and every other thing we didn't get to see the day before, we wandered into the Big Tent to check out Clockwork, an act we had caught at Electric Forest two weeks earlier, that we knew we had to check out here. Right off the bat Clockwork hit that crowd with his big room dance hit “Surge”. Tutus and green man suits rushed into the tent from all sides to jump to the happy afternoon beats as he switched tempos into a remix of “Praise You”, Fatboy Slim's hit of days gone by, and then let out with his kickin remix of Congorock and Sean Paul's “Bless Di Nation.” If you didn't leave Clockwork's set happy and ready to party then you must have had your head in the ground like an ostrich. It became delightfully obvious why Aoki signed him to his Dim Mak label right away.
Our first big EDM act on the Main Stage, Wolfgang Gartner, was raring to go from the start. Without much introduction, Gartner rolled straight into “Space Junk” sending splashes of mud off the feet of the ecstatic crowd. Surrounded by the Gl&m Dolls, a wigged-out ravey little dance troupe, Wolfgang throttled ahead with popular favorites “Stars” by Vicetone and Jonny Rose, and his own “Shrunken Heads.” As the shadows of bumping totems and rage poles cast down upon the festival and the trance of Gartner's set released it's pull the crowd was left wanting more once again.
Eskmo was up next back over at the Big Tent and after a quick stop to refuel with gyros and goat cheese burritos, (bangin' by the way, I don't know where these food vendors come from, but if i had to guess I'd say heaven), we were all in it again. Eskmo brought something completely unique and experimental to the table, and I'm not just referring to the lamp he played as a percussive instrument. Creating beats and sounds on the spot with the use of a common table lamp, a metal pipe, and his own voice, Eskmo showcased what a true artist can do, and tested the boundaries of melody, harmony and what constitutes composition. People swayed and nodded along to newly designed concoctions, and while not the most heart pounding set, it was extremely well received. His set left me speechless, in total awe of what this guy could do just as the inspiration came to him. It was jamming out at it's finest.
The rest of the night was a blur of pure awesomeness! Bassnectar…..Having not seen Bassnectar live before this festival, I had extremely high hopes for this king of bass. As if in the beginning of a dream, LEDs and glowsticks beamed through the dark of the night, as Bassnectar warmly greeted the crowd. “There's so many good humans out there. I've been watching you all day.Thank you for your energy. Your beautiful.” Then it started. The visualizer kicked, and “H.A.L.” boomed it's bass with startling intensity to a foot stomping, knee knocking crowd response. “Voodoo” brought an eagerly awaiting fan base Bass Head delight, and rumbled the speakers like a tornado of sound ready to rip the hinges off the stage. The visualizer meshed perfectly with the mood of the crowd, even flipping to images of waves and surfers for Bassnectar's own special take on the Surfari's “Wipeout”. The end of the set came in what seemed like an instant waking the dancing and swaying audience from the spell of intoxicating riffs and bass lines Bassnectar has made his name on. The rest of the night had much to live up to….
Back over at the Big Tent Baauer kept the trap and hip-hop flow going after Paper Diamond's fluid club-like set. An energetic crowd breathlessly kept time in their heads awaiting the arrival of Baauer's signature cultural phenomenon, “the Harlem Shake.” Bumping and grinding and stomping it seemed as if at once everyone under the shiny white plastic covering stopped to hear the entrance of his now infamous remix. Then as if all at once again their bodies thrust into a chaotic flurry as lights strobed and spun around them. Followed by other great festival favorites such as “Booty Bounce” and the incredibly catchy “Bird Machine” by DJ Snake Baauer pleased the crowd and gave ass shaking music a proper home at Bisco.
What happened next can only be described as what an alien invasion would be like…if their weapon were explosive sounds. For the near half an hour it took to assemble Destroid's set, a low and visceral growl could be heard from somewhere all around us. Smoke filled the stage as the pieces of the scenery, the kits, the amps, and pyrotechnics all came together as an uber-amplified viking war hornlike sound came blaring through the speakers. The crowd ignited in a rage like dance similar to something you would see at a hardcore or metal show, as “Raise Your Fist” began. These three guys, KJ Sawka, Downlink, and Excision, put on a show unlike anything I've every seen. What they do live, on actual instruments, many performers couldn't do recorded. They are pushing the limits of what defines electronic music, and are so dedicated to the concept of being intergalactic liberators through Bass Music, that they do it all in LED suits reminiscent of something predator would wear. They hammered out banger after banger off their starter album, throwing the insanely, impassioned mob into a face-melting get down.
If there's one show you see this year, if for nothing but limit pushing creativity, GO SEE DESTROID! Everyone in the crowd threw themselves completely over to the roaring bass of “Funk Hole” and “Annihilate” and fell into the groove of Bassnectar co-produced “Put it Down.” At the end of the set the band just walked off stage, a signal to the alien movement's end for the night. Walking out of the grounds that night we felt completely satisfied and still as if we were shaking from the pleasant assault of watts to our ears. Hard to believe there was another day left here in paradise…
Stay tuned for our conclusion with Day Three to come.
Photos courtesy of Kristina Kauffman