Camp Bisco 8 | 07.16 – 07.18 | New York
Camp Bisco 8 :: 07.16.09 – 07.18.09 :: Indian Lookout Country Club :: Mariaville, NY
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing (though recycling bins would have been nice). You may not learn about societal problems or the environment but what you do learn at Camp Bisco is how to live in the moment, how to really grab life by the balls and have a good time – this festival truly has an emphasis on the here and the now. It’s not a perfect template – obviously focusing on the ‘greater good’ has its importance, but this shouldn’t stop you from living your own life to its fullest. And well, that’s evidently just what the folks at CB8 came to do. They came to get down.
Our hosts, The Disco Biscuits put together quite the lineup in an attempt to fulfill the best mode of immediate gratification – music. Each year Camp Bisco seems to gravitate more and more towards the electronica and hip-hop scenes and away from its jamband roots. With the likes of hip-hop great Nas and the electronic masterminds Pretty Lights and Shpongle amidst a multitude of other DJs and rappers, this year saw a lineup that was pushed even farther in that direction, while maintaining an eclectic mix of other artists.
For the third year in a row the sprawling fields of upstate New York’s Indian Lookout Country Club served as our playground. It’s high time that this formerly nomadic festival found a place to call home. And on these familiar grounds an opportunity to string golden moments together slowly presented itself over the course of the weekend.
Torrential downpours stranded us at the (relatively) dry Tent Stage so I held tight until Dr. Fameus. The side project of Bisco drummer Allen Aucoin, this was an opportunity to see a creative side of Aucoin that rarely shines through in the Biscuits’ music (not to mention the only time you’ll ever get to hear him talk). While in previous years Aucoin was often joined by DJ Drizno, this year he was flying solo. With a familiar look of diligent concentration, Allen hammered out mesmerizing beats often bordering on breakneck drum-n-bass tempi on top of trancey bass and synth samples manipulated by his laptop.
The eighth Camp Bisco was one of the most hip-hop heavy in years. After my appointment with Dr. Fameus I ventured back to the Main Stage for Kid Cudi followed by Asher Roth, each with a completely different style of hip-hop. Cudi had bumping club beats that he smoothly rapped over with tight lines, while Roth had more of a college rock meets hip-hop feel. I have to be honest; when I first saw Roth’s name on CB’s lineup I thought it was some practical joke that the Biscuits were trying to play on us. And though he seems to me mostly a novelty act (particularly during the song “I Love College”) parts of it weren’t half bad. Steven Ellison, otherwise known as Flying Lotus, sat behind his turntables mixing an array of hip-hop samples in an impressive showing of DJ talent in the slot right before the headliners.
A plodding crescendo reached “Cyclone” at its apex, fulfilling those shattered expectations from earlier in the set. “Cyclone” indeed got my feet moving but I’ve heard this song peak so much harder than this particular rendition. Aucoin, now in a spiffy paisley shirt, meticulously banged on his kit while the band took us into a powerful “Buddha” ending. With puddles of sloppy mud scattered all across the once grassy field, we were treated to an appropriate “Wet” and “Above the Waves.” Despite being unfinished, “Waves” was the highlight of the set. A rushed “Morph” ending closed off the first of six Bisco sets a bit haphazardly.
While the first set was good it certainly left something to be desired. On paper this looks like an amazing set but they simply didn’t nail the songs like they could have. That being said it was miles ahead of the first set at Camp last year. Luckily, we still had five more Bisco sets coming our way.
Shpongle is a master of timbre. Unearthly synthetic sounds that have only ever been conjured by the demented mind of Simon Posford swirled around in my head – we’re talking sounds that are just simply unimaginable to the average human being. Aided by the mysterious Raja Ram on flute and various other instruments Posford mixed these timbres with tribal rhythms, ethnic samples manipulated in the most ingenious and, of course, a lively entrancing backbeat. “Let’s get shpongled,” quipped Posford in his delightful British accent before spinning out Shpongle classics such as “Schnitzeled in the Negev” and “Divine Moments of Truth,” though it’s hard to say how much of what Posford does is “spinning” and how much of it is just hitting a button and dancing.
Continue reading for Friday’s coverage of Camp Bisco…
After minor technical delays Dr. Dog got the music rolling on the Main Stage. Their lyric-driven brand of psychedelic rock was a good start to the day. Their voices swirled in harmony over rugged guitars that had a bit of a poppy feel mixed with a roller coaster of energy making the music very translatable to even someone completely unfamiliar with their repertoire. The rain slowly began to trickle from the sky, but that didn’t stop these guys from thundering ahead.
I wandered over to the Hill Stage for some Otherwise, a band that mixed elements of hip-hop with reggae and electronic music, before heading back to the Main Stage for K’naan. This Somalian artist out of Toronto was quite possibly the best showing of hip-hop this weekend. K’naan (born Kanaan Warsame) takes the fluid beats of American hip-hop and fuses it with the music of his homeland, giving his songs a kind of worldly touch. His style of rapping often sounded like Eminem but his lyrical content relayed a much more poignant social message and on the whole felt much more poetic.
The highlight of Friday midday was without a doubt the Younger Brother live set. Imagine the psy-trance of Posford and Vaughan – the vast spectral timbres, the pulsing beat, the cleverly cut up samples – compounded with a rocky intensity provided by the raucous orangutan drumming of Joe Russo. And of course, Brownie – the perfect bassist for this trance/rock amalgamate – added forceful Bisco-y climaxes with just a tinge of untz. Tom Hamilton, on the other hand, seemed hardly to make a peep, almost inaudible over the rest of the band. Posford switched back and forth from his DJ station and an electric guitar, where he fingered out impressive licks. Though much of what they played came from one of Younger Brother’s two studio albums, this manifestation sounded wholly different from the more down-tempo productions.
A rain delay kept Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley at bay but the Pnuma Trio and Orchard Lounge were more than enough to satiate me while I waited for them to recover. I took refuge under the Tent Stage as a writhing hoard of people coagulated around for Orchard Lounge. Normally a three-pronged DJ collective, O-Lounge only had a third of its constituency spinning at Bisco. Apparently the overhang of the Hill Stage wasn’t enough to make Pnuma impervious to the rain, as Alex Botwin (bass/computer) seemed to have technical troubles throughout the set. Fortunately, Lane Shaw (drums) and Ben Hazelgrove (keyboards) had no trouble picking up the slack, each turning it up a notch when Botwin’s bass went awry. This set was heavy on the new stuff, playing a bunch of tunes off their latest release, Character, and even some previously unreleased material. Their newer stuff paints strokes of electronica layered with dabs of hip-hop onto a complex jazzy canvas.
With one set already behind them, Friday’s Bisco sets saw our hosts finally hitting it in full stride. “You guys having fun out there despite the soaked environment?” joked Brownie before the Biscuits jumped right into “Rockafella.” This is a song I previously did not appreciate but Bisco has been killing this one of late, bringing it to places they never would have dreamed of when they first introduced it in ’07. “Strobelights & Martinis” began with a minor flub from Barber but he recovered quickly. As the show progressed, the sonic blips of Barber’s guitar occupied my hearing, and kaleidoscopic visuals displayed on hexagonal panels tripped out my vision. The set peaked in tandem with the monstrous precipitation during two separated sections of “Hot Air Balloon,” each equally majestic. One of Barber’s most beautifully written pieces, this song just breeds feelings of utter elation. Despite bearing its moniker twice on this setlist “HAB” still remained unfinished.
The late night Tent Stage had become a quagmire from all the bad weather, but this didn’t stop people from packing in tight for Pretty Lights. Cory Eberhard kept things tight on the drums, constantly laying down thick rhythms while Derek Vincent Smith spun his heart out. Normally keen on contrasting points of extreme ferocity with more relaxed down-tempo grooves, PL seemed to have every intent of making Friday’s late night an absolute rager, throwing down with balls-to-the-wall intensity. Like so many of their other sets, Pretty Lights closed their show with an affable mash-up of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” with Wreckx-n-Effect’s “Rump Shaker.” Two Fresh was up next on the bill. Offering a fun set with a mixture of organic soul, funk and hip-hop samples, an unreal synthesizer and a live drummer, the double DJed trio sounded like a lackluster version of the preceding act, and the fact that Pretty Lights completely killed it didn’t help their case.
Continue reading for Saturday’s coverage of Camp Bisco…
After some breakfast Telepath took the Main Stage. A live trio from Philadelphia, these guys take salacious down-tempo electronic music and add an ethnic twist. Samples of Indian and Arabic music accompanied ambient keyboards provided by Michael Christie while Curt Henry and his ‘fro rocked back and forth to his fluid basslines. Up on the hill I caught a bit of Indobox before returning to the Main Stage for an afternoon Biscuits set.
I braved the muddy field for a rare opportunity for a daytime show. “We’re gonna do a Saturday afternoon set for you guys. Otherwise known as Tractorbeam vs. The Perfume,” said Brownie before diving into a hip-hop version of “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” Brownie and Barber, armed with nothing but their microphones, each jumped around the stage trading off rapping lines, revealing Brownie’s secret desire to be a member of the Beastie Boys. All the while Barber did his classic dance move where he rocked back and forth pumping a lone fist circularly through the air – a move I’ve dubbed “The Barber Shuffle.” For those of you that don’t know, The Perfume is when TDB take their own material and recreate it in different genres. For the most part Perfume versions of their music felt mostly like a novelty, as each time they dropped a song in a different genre I couldn’t shake the desire to just hear the original tune.
We were treated to an epic surprise at the end of the first set as a special guest was introduced – Sam “The Professor” Altman. “That’s Dr. Sammy to you,” joked Brownie. This was the former Bisco drummer’s first appearance with the band at Camp in four years and the first ever since (as far as I know) he played “Magellan” with them at an Electric Factory show during the ’07 New Year’s run. The original quartet played a honky-tonk “Sound One” that really was something special.
Few people were willing to wade through the mud for Break Science but those brave enough to do so had their courage rewarded. The breakbeat drumming of Adam Deitch was supplemented by the DJ skills of what was suppose to be Alex Botwin of Pnuma but turned out to be someone else. Nevertheless this mystery DJ held his own, pumping out a mix of trip-hop, hip-hop, dub and some DnB. But, it was Deitch that stole the show with his insane drum chops.
I left Brothers Past early to catch STS9’s second set of the festival. With the daylight gradually fading away, Sound Tribe perfectly complimented the aura of the moment, playing a much more laid-back set than their late night rager. There were, of course, moments of epic intensity placed strategically throughout their set. Back over on the hill EOTO offered up a hodgepodge of electronic musical mastery. It’s hard to believe that this glitched-out duo has its origins in the organic jammy goodness of the String Cheese Incident. SCI’s percussive force of Jason Hann and Michael Travis create all the music they play on the spot, relying on the energy and atmosphere of the occasion to guide them, seamlessly jumping from one dance-inducing groove to the next. This particular EOTO showing was heavy on the trance, appropriate given their location.
LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy graced us with his DJ stylings during Bisco’s set break. It had the same LCD Soundsystem feel with an in-your-face punk edge mixed with house music that can make you dance your ass off, though Murphy didn’t spin any actual material from his most noteworthy project.
In typical Bisco fashion, they kicked off their final set with the beginning of “Robots” and then proceeded to play the remaining parts of the song out of order. The music finally took an exultant turn with the transition into “Hope.” As it should be, this ultimate set was shaping up to be their best. KJ Sawka replaced Allen on drums during “Hope” and utterly cleaned up sitting behind the thrown.
The DFA Disco Tent ended this mother of all weekends starting with Holy Ghost. This was no misnomer – ’70s style string section samples abound over bumping beats – this was straight discothèque fare. James Murphy took the stage once more, this time joined by LCD Soundsystem cohort Pat Mahoney for CB8’s finale. And what a finale it was, as the duo let loose an energetic blend of disco and house music to cap off the weekend.
The moments had come and gone, but thanks to that carpe diem attitude produced by Camp Bisco’s mentality it was possible to grab hold of all of them. Though it would be nice to see Camp become a bit more environmentally friendly in years to come, since it would not really compromise our ability to live in the moment, it is undeniable that over the last eight years Camp Bisco has evolved into one bitchin’ good time.
Continue reading for more of Dave Vann’s Camp Bisco pics…
|Marc Brownstein – The Disco Biscuits|
|Allen Aucoin – The Disco Biscuits|
|Aron Magner – The Disco Biscuits|
|Shpongle with Raja Ram|
Continue reading for Friday pics of Camp Bisco…
|Joe Russo and Simon Posford|
|Joe Russo, Tuphace, DJ Harry|
|Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley|
|Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley|
|The Disco Biscuits|
|Hunter Brown – STS9|
|David Murphy – STS9|
|Conspirator in the VIP Lounge|
Continue reading for Saturday pics of Camp Bisco…
|The Disco Biscuits and Crew|
|Brownie and Alan with #1 Fan contest winners|
|The one and only Super D|
|Break Science ft Adam Deitch|
|Mike LaSage and the Stumbling Troubadours|
|Break Science ft Adam Deitch|
|Brownie – The Disco Biscuits (Day Set)|
|Allen Aucoin – The Disco Biscuits (Day Set)|
|Zach Velmer – STS9|
|Bisco FOH engineer Patrick Hutchinson with Johnny R. Goode (background) Biscuits Lighting Designer|
|The Disco Biscuits|
|The Disco Biscuits|
|The Disco Biscuits|
|The Disco Biscuits|
JamBase | Biscolated
Go See Live Music!