Words by: Brian Bavosa :: Images by Dave Vann
Camp Bisco VI :: 08.16.07 - 08.18.07 :: Indian Lookout Country Club :: Mariaville, NY
To borrow a few lines from Benjy Eisen's official program notes for Camp Bisco VI: A Home Like This, "It's taken us a long time to get here. In fact, it's taken us our whole lives. Every second of every one of our lives, since birth, has been an incredible, individual journey that was designed to eventually lead us here, now, this very moment. Ah, the gravitational force of Bisco. And what a ride, eh?"
| The Disco Biscuits :: Camp Bisco VI|
The Disco Biscuits, possibly more than any other band running, are definitely a gravitational force. Whether it be the abundance of LRG sporting fans (guilty!), the overwhelming amount of untz or simply the downright dirty feel of their shows, Camp Bisco - currently hitting its sixth incarnation - has definitely developed into a not-to-be-missed, late summer attraction. The festival was again presented by MeatCamp Productions, and all signs again pointed towards a superb weekend.
Sprinkled with a handful of prototypical rock and jam bands, the crux of this year's event, held at Indian Lookout Country Club, focused on some serious heavy hitters in the electronic world. In addition to the Biscuits, the lineup boasted Simon Posford, spinning with both Shpongle and performing with his highly acclaimed Hallucinogen in Dub project in their first North American show. I'll touch on this performance a little later, but to wet your appetite we need only look in the direction of Biscuits' bassist Marc Brownstein. He called Hallucinogen in Dub, "Quite simply the best music since Dark Side of the Moon."
Thursday got started with Caveman, then the one-two punch that left many D.U.M.B-founded - Umphrey's McGee and Bisco. Umphrey's managed to invoke the spirit of the rain, and played a vibrant set including "Sociable Jimmy" and "Push the Pig" before bolting of out town with the lightning. Or so we thought. The Biscuits offered a four-song set that was cool, calculated and very patient, as witnessed by the "Hot Air Balloon" closer. Infected Mushroom, the psych-trance monsters from the Middle East, slam-banged me into a hypnotic swirl shortly thereafter, with the strong presence of the new Biscuits' LED light wall behind them.
| Grimace Federation :: Camp Bisco VI|
My Thursday highlight was Philly's Grimace Federation on the side stage. These cats are a breath of fresh air in a scene that can sometimes blur together. With two drummers facing each other at the front of the stage, they have a unique approach and stage presence. A mix between The Duo, Tortoise and Arcade Fire, GF are a band that you will surely be hearing from shortly. And it should be noted that perhaps they sounded like the Arcade Fire because they covered "Neighborhood #3." As Thursday was coming to a close, Telepath kicked out the grooves as many were still pouring into the campgrounds, serving as an ideal soundtrack for those setting up shop.
Rising stars, Digital Frontier offered "Beats Before Breakfast," and drew a rather large crowd just after mid-day on Friday. The Adam Deitch Project, Indobox and King Britt, who produced some tracks for the Biscuits' next album, filled in the afternoon action, complete with sit-ins from Bisco keyboardist Aron Magner and drummer Allen Aucoin. The highly anticipated debut of The New Originals, consisting of Posford, Brownstein, Magner and Sound Tribe Sector 9 drummer Zach Velmer, never got off the ground. Instead, Brownstein informed the crowd that Posford was stuck in traffic and instead the Biscuits would play an extra set. All hell seemed to break loose before he got the words out of his mouth. Surrounded by arms raised in glory and utter disbelief, people rushed the stage as fast as humanly possible. The set might have been the strongest of the bunch, featuring the first new song of the weekend, "Glastonbury," and a huge "Basis for a Day" > "Shem Ra Boo" > "Basis for a Day" that seemed to ride the edge of being utterly spontaneous.
| Magner & King Britt :: Camp Bisco VI|
Next up, Slick Rick "platnumized his body," for a change of pace, while being backed by the Adam Deitch Project. The hits were plenty, and his act never seems to get old, even if he is. Very enjoyable. A little later, STS9 offered a PA set, their first of two sets over the next few days. Sprinting back to the main stage, I watched OTT's DJ lay the dub framework for the highly anticipated Hallucinogen in Dub debut. I love me some dub music, but this man, this performance, took my understanding to an entirely different level where dub met dance and moved me like a reggae-fied robot. It warrants an entire review by itself - it was that good. Somewhere in the middle of HID's set, hurricane-like weather seemed to be conjured from the dark side (or was it that gravitational force at work?), adding an intangible element to the music that is impossible to put into words. Complete insanity ensued, and those lucky enough to stick around experienced something surreal. Truly one of those sets that you simply had to experience, no words can do it justice.
Amon Tobin was another highly lauded set on the side stage, serving as a perfect warm-up before our hosts hit the stage once more Friday night. An inverted "Above the Waves," and the always-welcome "Magellan" soared around the world, enveloping another new tune, "Termites." The second set was really out there, and featured a "Reactor" sandwich, complete with "Orch Theme" filling. Posford and Velmer made appearances and gave a nod to the New Originals lineup that was pushed back earlier. If The Biscuits represent a gravitational force, this set required moon boots and a seatbelt for fear of floating towards outer space, never to return.
| Amon Tobin :: Camp Bisco VI|
The Juan MacLean and Orchard Lounge spun late into the night on the side stage, but it was Future Rock performing a "Daft Rock" homage to Daft Punk complete with dancing robots that stole the late night slot.
Saturday finally saw the weather improve and boasted the weekend's most eclectic lineup, beginning with Benzos, The Breakfast and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad before Bustle In Your Hedgerow put the beats, trance and untz on hold and helped us get the Led out. An instrumental Zeppelin cover band consisting of Joe Russo (The Duo), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Scott Metzger (RANA) and Jamie Shields (The New Deal) filling in for Marco Benevento, this set was a little loose, a little sloppy but all rock & roll. In short, just the way Zeppelin should be.
Bassnectar, less conspicuously known as Lorin Ashton, was quite simply another highlight of Camp Bisco VI. His DJ skills are unparalleled when it comes to getting a party started and keeping it slamming, and this performance did exactly that. Many people I spoke to pointed to this hour-long set as one of their favorites of the event. EOTO saw former String Cheese Incident percussionists Jason Hann and Michael Travis showcase their looping, bass bubbling and E-drum skills, while Lyrics Born offered the weekend's last blast of hip-hop fueled fire from the main stage. STS9 helped usher in the nighttime with a regular instrument-filled set. The Tribe was playing their first Camp Bisco since the maiden voyage in '99. There is truly something heartening and organic about seeing a band start on a similar path, break away, only to befriend the ones they originally tried distancing themselves from. STS9 absolutely killed it, as always, setting the stage for The Biscuits to send us home in style.
| Girl Talk :: Camp Bisco VI|
But, not before another dance party broke out at the side stage. Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk is the single, hottest thing to come out of the Pittsburgh, PA since Roberto Clemente. Not exactly a DJ, more a mix-up-masher and producer, this kid is straight up fun. His stage antics are a cross between Iggy Pop and a kangaroo on cocaine, while his music is 100-percent infectious. The set closer married Biggie Smalls with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," a mix we never thought we'd hear, but one I'll be singing all the way till next week.
The final two sets of Camp Bisco were very solid. The highlights were yet another sandwich of "Astronaut" > "Munchkin Invasion" (inverted) > "Astronaut" and a guest appearance by Tom Hamilton (Brothers Past, American Babies) on vocals for a set closing cover of Muse's "Take A Bow." There was also an excellent "Cyclone" swirl through the middle of "Caterpillar," and the first take on Senor Boombox's "Sound One" with "new" drummer Aucoin. Add a guest appearance by Johnny Rabb (BioDiesel) on drums during "Pilin' It High" with a double encore of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and their own "Digital Buddha" and the Biscuits had given us a little bit of everything when all was said and done. The Join, Psylab and Orchard Lounge kept things going late into the night for those who had no intention of letting things end.
| The Disco Biscuits :: Camp Bisco VI|
Over the past several years, The Disco Biscuits have been hitting their newfound stride with Aucoin and taking more risks than ever. Whether it's new material, side projects, of morphing into their instrumental alter-ego Tractorbeam, it seems clear that every fan is caught in the same gravitational pull, headed directly towards next year's Camp Bisco.
Continue reading for more images from Camp Bisco VI...