This past Saturday I headed to Mariaville, NY to rekindle with Camp Bisco, Northeast’s largest electronic-rock festival. It had been five years since I last attended Disco Biscuits’s musical creation and I found myself in the middle of a much bigger and louder maelstrom. The 10th annual music and arts festival boasted more than 100 performances on five stages over the course of three days and three nights. I was still on the West Coast the first two days but I had the opportunity to take pictures from the comfort of the press pits on Day #3. Roaming from stage to stage I made my way through a sea of hula hoopers and scantily clad youth to snap a few more photos. Read on to find out if Camp Bisco lived up to their expectations (hint: look above).
I took nearly 900 photos with both my Canon 5D Mark II and my new Fujifilm X100 on this bright, sunny, high 80s Saturday. I trimmed that set to 95 shots, all available on Flickr. I divided this material between the attendees and the performers, below. If this doesn’t do the trick, you can also access photos by act types, e.g. all bands, all DJs, and all rappers, or by stages, e.g. Main Stage, Grooveshark Tent, and Dance Tent. That’s OCD right there.
Camp Bisco sold out this year, the lineup had a lot to offer. I was excited to take photos of personal favorite Cut Copy, James Murphy (Special Disco Version), Ratatat, Ghostland Observatory, The New Deal, RJD2, and Orchard Lounge but I realized back in June that none of these bands were going to play on Saturday. If you had the chance to see them, comment away at the end of this post. This wasn’t going to ruin my day for a bit, I enjoyed discovering new bands back in 2006 and expected the same in 2011. Hell, I was even open to get “wobbled” real good.
Full disclaimer, this is my experience as a photographer, it is fair to assume it would be different than yours for a few reasons. First, I had a media pass and access to the press entrance and VIP parking lot. I hear getting in on Day #1 was painful, people abandoning cars and walking almost five miles to the campgrounds. On the flip side, I was busy trying to take decent photos at the expense of paying attention to the music most of the time. We had only three songs to take pictures before being politely escorted out of the press pit, as is often customary. Not that I’m complaining, on the contrary. Second, I was about twice the age of 75% of the attendees out there. Not that I’m complaining either, I sure did enjoy the 70′s in Frenchland—did you know TV was in black & white once? Nevertheless, this created a little divide, to put it mildly, when it came to dubstep. More on that later.
Sweaty Sweaty Crowd
I find the photos of the crowd taken during the performances to be the most entertaining in this series, so let’s just start with that. There was ample space in front of the Main Stage outdoor to accommodate any number of people standing, sitting, smoking, sleeping or planking.
This was a whole different story in the Grooveshark Tent (above), packed wall to wall and hot as hell as early as 5pm, and not just for tea and biscuit. God bless your little Bisco hearts, I had a blast standing between the stage and this massive wave of energy. There are some precious faces here.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or check the Crowd Shots slideshow on Flickr.
I’m unsure about the official numbers yet but I would venture to guess that a good 20,000 to 30,000 people attended Camp Bisco 10. A lot of you guys decided to camp, from the sheer number of tents, RV’s, and U-Haul trucks(!) dotting the Indian Lookout. There were a lot more vendors providing food, beverages, and merch than in 2006. Fun facts, 95% of Bisco consumers purchase alcohol at least once per month, 64% once per week, 78% try new and different beverages. I had no problem refilling at the water fountains throughout the day, I’m boring like that. Another fun fact, 100% of Bisco photographers experience second-hand pot smoking.
There was a minor choke-point between the main stage and the dance tents but nobody got trampled, to my knowledge. Raise your hand if you did—dragged in the mud doesn’t count, that’s fair game at Swamp Bisco. Truth be told, I didn’t notice any incident and barely any crowd surfing. Is crowd surfing completely 1988?
Lots of pretty people in this gallery, nothing too outrageous or new since my last Camp Bisco though, except for the wookie boots. Thank you for posing or looking like you didn’t notice the 6’3″ guy in a bright yellow t-shirt with two cameras; very appreciated. I tried to keep it PG13 but contact me if you wish to be removed from this gallery, I have some karma to regain since the episode in Saratoga Springs.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or check the Patrons slideshow on Flickr.
Camp Bisco was headlined each and every night by the Disco Biscuits, the Philadelphia band at the origin of the festival. They remained true to the “trancefusion/electrojam” genre they help create. The Biscuits played no less than six generous sets over the course of CBX—chances are that if you left the main stage to grab food, they would still be playing the same song 30 minutes later when you returned. I kid, I kid, that was not the same song. I’m not a jam person, 10 minutes is probably as much as I’m willing to drum with my own basement band, but that obviously worked for thousands of Biscuits fans gathered at Camp Bisco.
Here are a couple of relaxing videos by JamForums and SailinJerry. That same crowd had no problem switching gear from improvisational rock music to the electronic bass-heavy DJ performance by Bassnectar that immediately followed. The light show was elaborate and appropriately psychedelic, though I was a tad nervous during the barrage of lasers. Remember the videos showing a camera sensor squarely damaged by a fleeting beam? Pew pew.
My time spent in the Grooveshark Tent with one of the DJs behind Nero marked my first encounter with a live, dubstep performance. Have a peek at Nero’s YouTube channel if you are unfamiliar with the duo. I had listened to this genre before but it was only until I bumped into a sweaty horde leaving a Bassnectar show back in April that I decided I had to see it for myself. I listen to a lot of music, I play some vindictive drum ‘n’ bass excessively loud now and then, but dubstep is just beyond my love for everything electronic. I’m scratching my head as to where I was when it started really picking up five years ago but by the time it became mainstream it seems I was still
stuck busy listening to the same French electro tracks,
This is OK though, it really is. I’m feeling really old writing this right now but I do remember my folks were completely lost by the EBM, Trance and Goa (yes, Goa) CD’s I brought back from Berlin in the mid 90′s. They didn’t grow up surrounded by electronic music though—I did, dubstep fans even more so. I’m not feeling the genre but I witnessed the crowd going completely wild, that’s something I can definitely get behind. Here is a video shot at CBX with Dan at the helm, there is a lot more on YouTube if you are not subject to epilepsy.
Finally. I was looking forward checking this DJ out—andrew’s photos and this video of his show in Albany had me convinced there was an opportunity here to learn something and take action shots. Almost everything I wrote above regarding my introduction to live dubstep by Nero applies to Bassnectar’s performance. I didn’t get Lorin Ashton’s uses and abuses of the “wobble” bass but the roars of this huge crowd packed at the main stage were powerful. People were eating that up, here is a video from a distance.
Bassnectar was positioned way above the stage; with no clear angle from the pit press, many of us photographers decided to shoot at the crowd. You guys didn’t mind, hopefully. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or check the Bassnectar slideshow on Flickr. Find more about Bassnectar at CBX, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
I would love to love hip-hop. Hear my plea though. Do you speak Spanish, German, or French? Have you ever listened to Spanish, German or French hip-hop? There is such thing, trust me, good luck with that though. I have been in the US for almost 10 years, I speak reasonably well with an accent you could hang your coat on, but understanding English lyrics remains a very tricky exercise. The difference between words spoken normally and words laid out in a song is a source of intense confusion.
My point is, I can’t understand a word of hip-hop. I have the gut feeling this is a problem because of the importance of this musical expression in American society. I want to be able to make a difference between hip-hop as a vehicle for social messages on one end, and hip-hop as a meaningless, sometimes offensive commodity on the other. Unfortunately, I can’t, unless I read the lyrics—that defies the purpose, right?
My dilemma here is that Wiz Khalifa was an excellent performer, he set the crowd on fire right away (video), and he was fun to take photos of. I enjoyed the first two songs… while at the same time a little guy kept tapping on my shoulder to remind me I shouldn’t support a song that might be blatantly misogynistic, for instance. Was it the case? I have no clue, welcome to my world. Should I make such assumptions? Probably not. Even after reading Amanda Macchia’s negative impression at PerformerMag, I still don’t know.
Neon Indian was the highlight of my day, a relaxing mix somewhere between M83 and local favorite Phantogram—don’t trust me on that one, listen to this song if you will or check this video recorded at CBX. The light hitting the stage at that moment was beautiful. This chillwave band from Denton, Texas was humble and fun, I hung out to listen to the whole set after we left the press pit, then got kicked out of the VIP area for… ahem… trying to take another photo. Justice is served.
I bought their debut album Psychic Chasms (2009) when I got back home, it’s growing on me. I strongly suggest you see them live, the songs recorded on the album sound a tiny bit hollow (I heard the opposite too). I’m sure the production value will be raised on their upcoming 2011 album.
I’m trying hard to recall what song experimental rock/psychedelic pop Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer started their set with but I’m blanking. Beautiful chorus and backup vocals, anyone? They played O.N.E. (video), Ambling Alp (video), 2080 (video), and a few more but I had to move on to the next act quickly.
Great expressions from frontman Chris Keating, only matched by this young lady’s heart-shaped glasses below. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or check the Yeasayer slideshow on Flickr. Find more about Yeasayer at CBX, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
A few photos of funk band Lettuce—a simple, effective, and delicious band name? This was a large ensemble on stage, yet I managed to only capture two members on camera, that’s silly. “I was getting my groove on” would be my official excuse, if I had any kind of groove.
Death From Above 1979
There was a lot of hype surrounding DFA appearance since they had not played on stage in five years after their break-up. The Canadian duo delivered a dance metal act, Jesse Keeler shredding like a maniac, Sebastien Grainger pounding on the drums. Unexpected and punk, they had me reach for a second pair of earplugs. I won’t be “highly-anticipating” their return but that’s just me, have a look at this video of their performance and this other one, both songs off “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine”.
My lack of motivation shows in the photos, check andrew’s photoset for a much better use of a glorious sunset. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge or check the Death From Above 1979 slideshow on Flickr. Find more about Death From Above 1979 at CBX and on Facebook.
Freekbass & Tobotius
I don’t remember much of this earlier funk/electronic act unfortunately, except for this beautiful, beautiful wig. You can listen to a few songs on Freekbass SoundCloud and the new album is free to download (product does not include a downloadable wig).
That is it for my recap. If you are in your twenties in the Capital District Camp Bisco is a no-brainer, it has to be experienced at least once in my opinion. I had a great time taking pictures of Day #3, I came back with a slightly better understanding of dubstep (or worse) and a new contender for my “Album of Summer 2011”. That, and a suspicious sunburn. Keep it up, Bisco.
For more photos and recaps, check the Official Camp Bisco X Aftermath Trailer, a huge set of photos at JamBase, Pretty Lights By Matthew Balch, the Keep Albany Boring big recap, Patrick Dodson’s photos for the Daily Gazette, Flickr user milfodd, Flickr user weeklydig Day #1 and Day #2, a video recap of CBX by aebloomer, photos by Calder Wilson, a recap at joonbug, PerformerMag’s wrap-up, this cool pic by Cindy Schultz/TU and Julia Zave’s pics on Facebook and for Metroland.
The Official Camp Bisco X Aftermath Trailer, video by wied81:
Tags: Camp Bisco