Camp Bisco: New Place, Better Party

Walking into Camp Bisco was quite different this year than in years past. For starters, the bikers were replaced with police which kept things on the up and up and lead to a safer vibe throughout. As I walked in, there were two rows of your standard concert venders: merchandise, burritos, wicked gems, and further down the path was a small stage called Steamtown Stage. This stage was located in a smaller area right in front of the entrance to Montage Mountain, where there always seemed to be a bunch of people having fun.

Once you walked through the main gate there were, of course, more vendors, but also there were water stations strategically stationed around the venue so people could be safe and keep hydrated. The path further led to the main stage, Electric City Stage, with a pavilion feel and covered with a huge white tent — which would come in handy later on in the weekend. Past the Electric City Stage there were more vendors and checkpoints on the way to the water park, which had three slides, a wave pool and a lazy river. With the temperatures as high as they were, this would come in handy for those who wish to partake. Even cooler, just past the wave pool was the second main stage, which stage looked over a mountain where you could catch a glimpse of people zip lining or going on a scenic chair lift ride. This area was also home to the disco lounge. Inside the lounge DJs spun records and kids hula hooped, which continued throughout the festival. All in all, Montage Mountain was set up perfectly for Camp Bisco.

On Thursday, the Business Casual Disco started things off with a bang on the electric city stage. The smooth bass beats set everyone up for what was to be a rocking weekend. Kung Fu brought their unique sound to the Above the Waves stage, which is a double entendre — being next to the wave pool, and also being one of the Disco Biscuits classic songs. With the newly recruited Beau Sasser on keys, his presence was made very prominent throughout the band’s set. Being next to the wave pool and surrounded by tons of water rides, one might have asked themselves “Where am I?” You, my friend, are at the new Camp Bisco, where Kung Fu played their intricate part in adding excitement and fun to the party. It was almost Kismet as the band was finishing up their set, the sun slowly sunk behind the stage making for a most blissful moment. Sound Tribe Sector 9 tore things up back on the Electric City stage, and with beats galore a smile was on everyone’s face. Opening with “March” was the perfect choice. A bouncy number that had even the biggest skeptics hooked. A different rendition of the Nina Simone classic “New Dawn, New Day” was also a treat. It enabled people who may not be familiar with the bands catalog to connect. There was no other act better suited to open up for the The Disco Biscuits.

Marc Brownstein began the Biscuits set on the microphone with an announcement that they had started in Pennsylvania in 1999 and after a few years away it was good to be back home. When that segued into the Prince’s Purple rain hit “1999,” the crowd went totally nuts. Starting out with this song was an inspired way to kick off the party. Everyone was into it and it left the door open to endless possibilities, such as “Mr. Don” and a huge “Reactor” closer, which left confetti strewn all over as it popped right at the end. Sheer entertainment brilliance. After the Disco Biscuits, Twiddle played on the Above the Waves stage to a miniscule crowd — it didn’t help that Pretty Lights was playing the Electric City stage. Regardless of the numbers, these guys tore it up. With the raspy lead vocals of Mihali Savoulidis and his wailing guitar, there was no way those in attendance weren’t going to have a good time.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brought their raging style to the Above the Waves stage to kick off day two. Although there were many highlights in this electro fusions band’s set, none was more prominent than the Talking Heads cover “Psycho Killer.” The way lead singer Greg Ormont captured the spirit of the song was unparalleled, they had the whole crowd into their set with people actually walking around like pigeons! It was kind of weird but enormously fun. American Babies, Tom Hamilton’s home base, played a stellar set. The vocal range of Hamilton was soothing with passion while bassist Clay Parnell played with one hand. (His left hand appeared to be in a brace of some sort.) Hamilton’s shredding guitar brought the set to a close, leaving fans old and new wanting more. The indie electric duo CHERUB brought a new sound to the stage. Reminiscent of MGMT, the duo uses a lot of looping and beats to make their sound different. Their vocal ranges were in a league of their own hitting high and low all in the same line of a song. It’s refreshing to see a band take an idea and make it a reality, which is what CHERUB did.

For their second night of music the Disco Biscuits focused on their inversion style, inverting four songs in two sets. This is a style unique to the Biscuits which involves playing the middle and the end of the song before going back into the beginning. It’s really something to see. Opening with “Beethoven’s Fifth” and going into an inverted “House Dog Party Favor” was out of this world and performed flawlessly. As a surprise and a pleasant one at that, Marc Brownstein called up a guest singer to help the Biscuits take on the Hall and Oates number “She’s Gone.” This throwback got everyone’s attention, resulting in high fives circulating through the crowd and there was a happy vibe throughout the whole pavilion. The second set opened with the Grateful Dead’s “Help on the way > Slipnot” with a little help from Tom Hamilton. It was cool how they played homage to the Dead in a different way than most bands do. This was the Biscuits playing as the Biscuits, but playing a Dead song – not your average cover. This is when the fun really started for the fans as well as the band. Three inversions in a row: “Confrontation,” “Overture” and “Above the waves.” The Biscuits kept the crowd on their toes never knowing which song was coming next or which way it would be played. The covers continued with a take on Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” featuring Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic on the saxophone. This slow melodic song showed a different side of the Biscuits, a more patient side and Dom’s sax only added to that serenity — really nicely done. This segued into the set closer “Helicopters” which took the subdued crowd and brought their energy back, preparing them for day three of Camp Bisco.

Saturday at Camp Bisco is always a little more filled with music than the days prior. The Disco Biscuits played 3 sets and if that wasn’t enough, there was something happening on most of the stages all day so boredom didn’t have a chance. The Disco Biscuits opened the Electric City Stage with the crowd pleaser “Astronaut,” a perfect start to the set, followed by a dark version of the staple “Vassilios” and finishing with an epic “I-man.” If this was the kind of set they opened with, one could only imagine what was to come later on. Reptar, a band hailing from Atlanta, Georgia played at the Above the Waves stage. Reptar had an indie punk feel to them with a lot of energy and the crowd ate it up. They would have been a great segue into Papadiso but due to a severe weather warning their set was pushed back and everyone was asked to please seek shelter. This is where the white tent came in handy. People huddled around the area waiting for the storm to pass. When it finally did, it left a euphoric rainbow and fantastic vibes. Since most people were under the tent anyway, they stayed for the Disco Biscuits. The energy was intense. Opening up with the classical piece “Saber Dance” the band showed off their diversity and solidified that they are not just a transfusion band, as they previously did in the festival by playing “Beethoven’s Fifth.” This set was solid with “Konkrete,” “Crystal Ball” and a Muse cover “Knights of Cydonia.” The latter was an extra special treat as it was the first time they had ever played it. Bassnectar was up next and made a lot of people extremely happy. His legions of fans took over the pavilion leaving Disco Biscuit fans to wander around aimlessly waiting for the Biscuits to reemerge. T just kept going and going and every song or beat or whatever it was sounded the same, but these fans ate it up. One fan actually said “I live for Lorin (Bassnectars real name).” Everything may not be for everyone but the crowd seemed to have a really good time. As the Bassheads dispersed to one of the DJ venues, the Bisco fans proudly regained their seats and were ready for the last set of the weekend, performed by the festivals namesake, The Disco Biscuits. Their last set was played so tightly and patiently you were able to tell that the boys have been practicing. This became even more apparent when they covered LCD Soundsystems “Home”. The whole crowd was bouncing and high fiving. It was definitely the highlight, not just of the set, but of the festival as a whole.

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