Camp Bisco has become the premier electronic music festival in the Northeast (RIP Mysteryland) and continues to showcase the talents of rising jamtronica, EDM, DJ and jam band acts throughout the weekend while host band The Disco Biscuits play 6 sets for their fervent flock of fans who make it a point to attend the Scranton, PA festival year in, year out.
The weekend got off to a hot start on Thursday with two NYS artists, Turkuaz and Break Science, dropping some funk on opposite sides of the venue, each to a widening crowd as their set progressed. In Electric City, Gramatik put forth a politically charged set that featured strong support for Net Neutrality with graphics supporting the fight for a free and open net broadcast throughout much of the set behind Gramatik. The crowd cheered on the sentiment, one that affects anyone who streams music, let alone uses the Internet. When the Disco Biscuits hit the stage, the crowd was amped up for the first of six sets this weekend, kicking off with a triple-decker “Astronaut” that included “Run Like Hell” and “Digital Buddha” inside. “Reactor” > “Portal to an Empty Head” (inverted) > “Reactor” followed, raising the bar as the set continued and capping the sole set of Thursday with an apropos “Home Again.” Griz meanwhile kept the crowd dancing late with infectious future funk and electronic that complemented the Biscuits and Gramatik perfectly, kicking off the weekend in the perfect way.
Friday started with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong on the Above the Waves stage, but given the immense rain that came down in the middle of the night, some fans were drying out before getting wet with PPPP while others said ‘funk it’ and headed down to throw down with Baltimore’s finest and Manic Focus shortly thereafter. Beats Antique’s mystic gypsy affair wowed a curious crowd on the main stage at Electric City, warming up the audience for Disco Biscuits who played a nearly nonstop set, working a “Munchkin Invasion” around “Orch Theme,” “Voices Insane,” and an inverted “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night.”
Amid all the music the first half of this day was the 12th annual Camp Bisco Color War at the Lazy River, pitting Biscuits fans against Bassnectar fans in a friendly competition that featured volleyball, limbo, a spelling bee, a bacon-off featuring delicious bacon-infused concoctions, water slide races and a scavenger hunt to cap the day off. Purple Reign ruled the day once again, but all four teams – Greenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bassheads 808 and New World Orange – put in a valiant effort in an all too-close race surely to bring out the competitors next year with an even greater desire to bring home the trophy.
The Biscuits kicked off their second set with “Solstice,” not played since May of 2007 and threw in “Spacebirdmatingcall” with “Gangster” worked in between. Out of “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.,” a perfect song to keep energy flowing, was a jam that drifted into an instrumental version of Prince’s “Controversy,” perhaps an homage to Purple Reign’s victory earlier in the day, but quite possibly one of the biggest surprises of the weekend thus far. Bassnectar’s set followed and drew an immense crowd to Electric City, with fans standing on seats and throwing down in unison as Lorin’s hair and hands flowed across knobs and laptops, creating a tremor of music that didn’t stop for 90 minutes. Late night on the Above the Waves stage, Twiddle welcomes Tommy Weeks from Sophistafunk to the stage for “Latin Tang” and Aron Magner for “Mamunes The Faun,” with Shpongle following behind for a hillside packed to the top for one final throw down of the evening.
Saturday at Camp Bisco proved to be the best day, weather wise, of all three days. And with three sets of the Disco Biscuits punctuated with Pretty Lights Live Band, The Floozies and Action Bronson, loyal fans seemed to save some energy for the headlining events.
The Werks alter ego “Werktronic” delivered a stellar set at the Above the Waves Stage on Saturday afternoon. The band sported white bunny suits, the kind you’d see workers wearing in a clean room at NASA. The electronic set was the perfect match for Bisco. A somewhat harder jam band with synthesized dance beats and auto tuned vocals meant rage time for both swimmers in the wave pool and dancers on dry land. Coming off his earlier set with Electronic Beethoven, keyboardist Todd Stoops sat in, adding even more flare to the unique set.
Bisco enthusiasts, while leaning toward electronic music, are also fans of rap, good rap. Enter Action Bronson on the Electric City Stage. The former chef turned rapper delivered a larger-than-life performance. Seemingly everyone in the crowd knew the words and enthusiastically spouted it out right along with the Fuck, That’s Delicious TV personality. During “Acting Crazy,” the energy both on stage and in the crowd could have blown the tent top off that pavilion.
Back over at the Above the Waves Stage, Escort worked the crowd with their charismatic front woman Adeline Michèle. Her rainbow sequined shorts caught the eye of many as she popped and locked all over the stage, pausing only to occasionally pick up the guitar. They concluded their set with fan favorite “Cocaine Blues,” a song sampled by many bands in various genres.
Just like a ping pong ball, we bounce back once again to the Electric City Stage just in time for The Disco Biscuits’ first set of the day. More hip-hop was incorporated in this set, opening with “Caves of the East” with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song teased in before slipping into “Loose Change.” “Bernstein and Chasnoff” sandwiched an inverted and enthusiastic “Highwire” and “Tempest” before the set ended with “Mulberry’s Dream.”
On Saturday, The Floozies duo finally got a chance to play together at Montage Mountain. Last year at The Peach Music Festival, The String Cheese Incident’s Jason Hann filled in for drummer Mark Hill whose wife had just gone into labor. While that set was enjoyable and impressive given the last minute throw-together, fans got the full Floozies experience at Camp Bisco. The brothers take sampling to another level while adding their own live guitar, auto tuner and drums intermittently. The crowd came alive with endless beach balls and totems for songs like “Pimp Juice” and “Funky Jesus.” Cats in outer space with laser beam eyes danced across the screen behind them while a fan in the crowd proudly waved a handmade flag with the words “Fuck Trump” scribbled across it.
Back to the hosts, The Disco Biscuits, for their second set of the day and fifth of the weekend. Opening with “Morph Dusseldorf,” they moved into an inverted portion of “Above the Waves.” Their newest song, “The Champions,” ended with guest guitarist and friend Tom Hamilton who helped usher in the phenomenal cover of Bob Marley’s “Exodus.” The set then circled back to “Above the Waves” and “Morph Dusseldorf” with a confetti cannon raining paper on fans during the climax of the morph jam.
Pretty Lights Live has moved away from the funk and towards the darkness, as shown by their performance Saturday night. The majority of the set sounded as though Derek Vincent Smith and friends were striving for the most epic, apocalyptic sound they could put together, which does work if that’s what you’re into. The live band mixed in with the prerecorded music allows the group to keep each show unique. Notable songs included unreleased tracks such as the cover of Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” as well as “You Get High.” While impressive in its own right, there seemed to be a divide on the satisfaction within the audience. Avid PL fans seemed happy with the new direction while others felt the wind taken out of their dance sails.
The sixth and final set from The Disco Biscuits began with a thank you from Marc Brownstein to the fans, workers and crew at the festival. It truly is impressive the amount of planning and logistics that goes into an event of this size. The reggae seemed to carry over from their previous set with a dub version of “Mindless Dribble” that lead into a jam heavy “Helicopters” and then into a never-been-played instrumental cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” The kaleidoscope of lights along with the familiar tune was fuel for the crowd who seemed to turn up the energy level on this last night of Bisco. “Tricycle” and “Air Song” came next before returning to a climatic “Helicopters” to end the set.
Brownstein once again thanked the fans and took one more family Camp Bisco photo with the fans. The cheers of the crowd then drew them back in for one more, encoring with “Spraypaint” to end the weekend.