Camp Bisco is a household name at this point. Just its mention can inspire mixed emotions; from love to disdain. After a long stint at Indian Lookout Point in Mariaville, NY, Bisconauts found a steep new home last year at the Montage Mountain Performing Arts Center in the “Electric City”, Scranton, PA. Returning July 14, 15, and 16 for the second round, Montage seemed to have a much better inclination towards the larger crowd that Bisco inevitably draws year after year.
Thurday, July 14 was pleasantly welcoming upon arrival compared to the tediousness of last year. The security lines moved much more quickly both on and off site, and the shuttle system ran smoothly. Once inside, campers had a plethora of events to choose from. Beginning promptly at 10AM, a yoga class at the Above the Waves stage kicked off the weekend’s bevy of Wellness programs. A Festival Fuel seminar followed at noon, a talk that gave information as to which food would best combine portability, nutrition, and ease of preparation; extremely useful for any frequent festival goer. It seemed that Bisco was aiming to make its patrons not only headier, but healthier, this time around.
Speaking of heady, Philadelphia based DJ Josh Wink set the bar high for all of the electronic acts that would follow with his 5PM set. With his career blossoming in the club scene of the late 80’s, Wink has been an internationally touring act for decades. Playing in front of a smaller crowd than he had in years was no deterrent for this old pro, and Wink had the crowd moving in a matter of measures. Dopapod hit the Above the Waves stage at 6:30PM, coming hot off their summer tour with an air of confidence. Opening with “Vol. 3 #86” and thundering right along into “Black and White”, the boys were in prime form as usual. “French Bowling” lead to a highly unexpected and face melting “Black Sabbath” tease. Fan favorite “Trapper Keeper” wrapped things up.
Lotus was on deck for the Electric City main stage at 8:30PM. Being the eve of the release of their new album, Eat the Light, the trance-fusion giants were in sync. They debuted a new track titled “Sleep When We Are Dead” off of the forthcoming album, and closed the set with “Bush Pilot”. Beginning right on time at 10:30PM, the fathers of Camp Bisco, the Disco Biscuits took the stage. “Triumph” launched the evening into orbit, followed by “Papercut”, which hadn’t been played in over five years. A whimsical cover of “Safety Dance” got everyone to look at their hands, and took us back into the end of “Papercut”. Without a single ending the entire set, the Biscuits jammed right into an Great Abyss, wherein they let the projection light show loose under the seemingly sailcloth pavilion, revealing a truly stunning addition to this year’s production value. “42” took us into the ending of “Nughuffer”, the jam between exploding off the stage like liquid hot shrapnel. Eager was the mood of the crowd, almost impatient to see the Biscuits’ next sets.
Bisco veterans Orchard Lounge kick started the Friday festivities on July 15 with some filthy deep house beats. Being their 9th appearance at the festival, the trio floored the crowd with a qualified style. Thundercat continued to electrify the main stage at 4PM with a sophisticated brand of jazz-fusion that only bassist Stephen Bruner can deliver. Lettuce ensued, though seemed lacking in the wake of such intense technical musicianship as the Thundercat brought. 7PM rang in the Disco Biscuits first set of the evening. Humidity wasn’t the only reason for a high moisture level, as guitarist Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig slid into the opening bars of “Jamilia” with a sensuality that made the ladies blush. “Park Ave.” completed the segment, as Bisco classic “Caterpillars” brought us into an inverted arrangement of “Mulberry’s Dream”. The band seemed to struggle through “Feeling Twisted”, as bassist Marc Brownstein took off his five string and clumsily muddled around on his less mastered instrument, the mini-synth. The conclusion of “Caterpillar” rounded out the set.
Odesza provided a wonderful set break. The production duo incorporated analogue instruments into their electronic soundscape, with a stage presence that matched their enticing visualized display. The Disco Biscuits returned fashionably late around 10:45PM, getting straight down to business with a crackling “Strobelights and Martinis”. The segment continued with a skin tight “Spraypaint”, into a galloping and mysterious “Lunar Pursuit”, which was supplanted by a “Helicopters” that took it in for a landing. Keyboardist Aron Magner gently guided us into the terrifying tale of “Spaga”. After the smoke cleared from a completion of the previous night’s “Nughuffer”, “Spraypaint” took the evening to a cheerfully teary eyed end.
Saturday July 16 was chalk full o’ fan favorites, starting with Tom Hamilton’s American Babies at 1PM. Ott grooved next, bidding a warm farewell and asking everyone to stick around for the Biscuits’ day set to follow. Rolling out another classic cover, the Biscuits pulled the pin with “Pygmy Twylyte”. Next was an inverted version of “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a” which they recently played during the Bisco Inferno run in Denver, CO. Decidedly matching the sunny mood, the Grateful Dead’s “Viola Lee Blues” continued the cover trend. The segment continued with a stunning “Shelby Rose”, leaving many first timers with an apprehensive grin. “Little Betty Boop” concluded the first in the trilogy of Biscuits sets. The crowd seemed excited for Jewish rap superstar Lil Dicky, AKA Leftward Slopping Penis, but expectations were crushed for the first 15 minutes of the 6PM set, as there was an alarmingly obnoxious “hype” man screaming into a microphone and making air horn noises from behind a turntable. Lil Dick came out at a seemingly random moment and performed none of his well known comedic songs, instead going back and forth with an unknown rapper in perverse and simpleminded rhyme.
Back to business. The opening tune of the Disco Biscuits 7:30PM set matched the state of the crowd, as we were all “Sweating Bullets” in the heat. Drummer and percussionist Allen Aucoin’s technical precision was blatantly evident during the transition into “Minions”, which gave way to an eerily heavy “Pimp Blue Rikkis”. There was a unique smell and smoke in the GA pit, that of the oddly familiar multidimensional moth ball variety, as a wicked crispy “Aceetobee” jammed into their debut cover of Men at Work’s “Down Under, back out to “AC2B” and into another debut, the Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines”, concluding with an absolutely smoldering “Aceetobee” outro. Zeds Dead reminded us what trap was after that. STS9 began at 10:30PM, sounding a bit mailed in. Many wandered over to the Above the Waves stage where Marshmello was turning brains into gooey mush with his hypnotic yet subtle drops. The weekend came to its pinnacle at 12:30AM that final night, with the Disco Biscuits closing shop. “King of the World” is always a ripper out of the gate, heading straight into “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line”. “Cyclone” was ironically interrupted by incumbent weather, and after a 40 minute break for safety’s sake, they broke back into that jam almost seamlessly. Going straight for the throat with the peak of “Basis for a Day”, next the Biscuits cooled it down a little with “Tricycle”. Inverting even further by going back to the intro of “Basis”, the end of “Little Shimmy” made sure those who were paying attention were kept on their toes. Another “Basis for a Day” jam, this time in a more traditional order, pulled the musical cruise that was Camp Bisco XIV back into port. The “Story of the World” encore had a few flubs, but over all left fans with their hands to the band as everyone got ready for the classic crowd picture that wraps up all prominent Disco Biscuits weekends.
Another year, another Bisco for the books. Most agreed that Montage Mountain seemed much more suitable this year than last, with some logistical and personal experience now under their belts. Camp Bisco began with the notion that Jam and Electronic fans alike could enjoy not only acts on the same bill, but spending a weekend together in a music scene melting pot. Bisco 2016 exemplified the idea perfectly.