The campground was massive, and you could feel that you were surrounded by tons of energized people. Camp itself had a completely different environment than the festival. Everyone around us had such personalized campsites. There were tents, flags, tapestries, and just so much care that went into creating the camp. On more than one occasion we woke up to the smell of bacon which made it feel like a version of home. The tapestries were my favorite, and there was one hanging downhill from us that said “What’s a Bisco?” on it. It gave me the inspiration for this post, and I really wish I had taken a picture of it. Another element of camp was the random cheers, shoutouts, and bizarre noises that echoed through the campground all weekend. Each time the night would come to an end, you could hear groups coming back to camp together and just recapping the night in epic fashion.
Earlier this month I went up to Pennsylvania for a three-day music festival called Camp Bisco (preview post here). I was new to this festival, and I had never even heard of it before I saw this year’s stellar lineup. I knew I wanted to see Bassnectar this summer, and while looking at his tour dates, this fest caught my eye. It was east coast, which makes for a manageable trip, and I couldn’t believe the other headliners that were on the bill. As I read them one after another, STS9, Big Gigantic, Pretty Lights, Tipper, I knew we had found the right festival. The biggest question I had, though, was “who the hell are the Disco Biscuits?” I thought I had heard of them but definitely never listened to them before. I was clueless.
Well, as it turns out the Biscuits are fusion band that started in 1995 and were our hosts for the weekend. Camp Bisco is the band's flagship festival that began in 1999 (dang!) in New York. The idea was to combine jam bands, DJs, and electronic music and put it all in the same place. It was really about taking two subcultures and mashing them together to form one super group of music lovers. This year was the 14th installment of Camp Bisco after it took a hiatus last year in lieu of the Husdon Project (later known as the Mudson Project because of the horrible weather that led to plenty of disasters). So, with this being the first year at a new location, and recovering from Mudson’s wrath, there were plenty of people (on Reddit at least) that had high expectations for how this year should go. All the hype made me super curious about these crazy cats known as the Disco Biscuits and what they were all about. The Biscuits played 6 sets over the course of the festival, and we saw their opening set on Thursday. It was the perfect welcome, and they were really thankful that this festival was up and running again. It made me feel very appreciative and fortunate that I was able to experience it, because Bisco is totally a one of a kind festival. We talked to plenty of people on the way in, but one person stuck out. He encouraged us to go see the Biscuits at least once, if nothing but out of respect for them throwing this massive party and bringing all of these artists together for us. I really liked that perspective, and we ended up seeing part of five of the Biscuits’ sets. For a day-by-day rundown of the festival, check back for a new post.
The impression that I got from Bisco was that both the festival and the people that gather for it are relentless. It wouldn’t matter what time it was, somewhere in camp there were always a ton of people who were awake, hanging out, telling stories, or just plain partying. The sets went pretty late too, with some headliners not starting until after midnight and finishing at 3 a.m. You had to be on your A game to keep up with it all, because things were constantly happening at camp. Sleep for an hour, and you would definitely miss out on something crazy. What I thought was cool was that this festival had a real ‘summer camp’ vibe to it. There was plenty of hiking (thanks to being on a ski slope), plus a waterpark and zip lining, and then of course the music performances. There were so many things to do, and so many active people bringing the whole scene to life.
There were so many stories shared that weekend. I think that’s characteristic to the type of people this festival attracts. For the most part, everyone I talked to seemed to have an adventurous spirit and had done a lot of living already. The whole vibe of the festival gave me so much inspiration, and it was truly refreshing.
My favorite part about being surrounded by 12,000 people all weekend was that we’re all music fans. Music is the one common reason we’re all here together, and I love talking to other people about their favorite music. Someone near us had a Red Hot Chili Peppers totem, so it was an instant connection. Everyone around us was wearing band t-shirts and talking about the other festivals and concerts they’ve been to. It’s just a fun thing to talk about, and I loved being in this little music niche. Vinnie and I brought up our trip to Cleveland a few times, and it was cool to share our own stories with other people.
I feel this is true about any music festival, but the people that go to Bisco make it what it is. When we first arrived, part of the experience was exploring the festival. It was like discovering this new little hippie town I had never been to, venturing into uncharted territory. And, it was weird to think that this pop-up village of festival freaks only exists for four days a year. Bisco is like a traveling circus but on a much larger scale and with much longer breaks between gatherings. It takes a ton of people to breathe air into the festival and give it life and spirit. Each person that makes their way to Bisco adds something new to it, and when it’s all combined, that’s where the experience of the festival comes from. It’s that unique combination of humans that makes Bisco what it is.
So, I have plenty of things to talk about when it comes to Camp Bisco. Believe it or not, this is just the first of three posts and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Coming up I’ll be writing a day-by-day recap of the festival and also a post that’s all about the People of Bisco. If you were there, comment below with a favorite memory from the weekend!
Writer, stargazer, believer in human beings. Die-hard rock and roller with an insatiable urge to dance my way through life.