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Camp Bisco at Montage Mountain- Scranton, PA

Camp Bisco 2017

The Disco Biscuits have been hosting their festival since 1999 with minor gaps yet this is the first time I’ve attended. 1999 was the first time I saw the band at a small festival in Maine where they played mostly classical songs interpreted for their instruments. My next memorable experience with them was a performance at Gathering Of The Vibes with the Grateful Dead drummers. They played two or three of their own songs and followed up with Dead tunes.

The festival was at Montage Mountain where I had been last summer for the Peach Fest. This is a ski resort similar to Hunter Mountain where Mountain Jam is hosted with the added excitement of a small water park. One stage is setup next to a wave pool in front of a tube ride. Passed the lazy river and some slides, down a hill is a massive pavilion theater with covered seating and a large lawn area. Further downhill is a smaller stage which I’ve still never seen.

camp bisco lineup 2017
The lineup was what finally sold me (click the flyer for a larger version). Beyond the Disco Biscuits, the mix included jambands and some EDM DJs who I know and others I was told are great. I hadn’t seen Bassnectar or Pretty Lights since 2008. Some others I was excited to see included Griz, Lotus, Gramatik, Shpongle, Beats Antique, The Floozies, Nightmares on Wax, Turkuaz, and The Werks. Somehow I managed to see them all and some surprises.

A word about the crowd. The stigma attached to this fest is kids on lots of drugs. That doesn’t sound like a concern if you’ve read my posting about Grateful Dead and Phish shows among other jambands. Metal shows tend to be mostly alcohol driven. For the record, I’ve been clean for 20 years and don’t partake or condemn. The impression I had about Camp Bisco however, was lots of 20-somethings on ecstasy. While the crowd certainly was young, and there were lots of giant pupils, for the most part, it was tame and friendly. Overall, it wasn’t as environmentally clean as other festivals and “leave no trace” seemed an unheard mantra. I enjoyed times of quiet by myself and also had nice conversations with new friends and the vendors whom I know. People were colorful and artistic in that EDM/ rave way.

Anyhoo… The music was great. A sonic balance of electronics and instruments came through cross-genre reliance of tension and release. Beats dropped and the crowd jumped. This crowd seemed to like bringing flags, banners and signs to the show. Everything from “Fuck Trump” to Bob Ross.

Some memorable sets were Lotus whom I had only previously seen do a Talking Heads set (still legendary, listen here), Beats Antique (always amazing and they have a belly dancer), Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (they keep getting better!), and Electric Beethoven. This last one was a surprise. Reed Mathis the amazing bassist who has played with The Golden Gate Wingmen and others let an improv session set to Beethoven chord changes. The Desert Dwellers provided a great soundtrack to morning yoga but without a mat, on the concrete, I only lasted 3 poses. While there were lots of Disco Biscuit fans, the big draw was Bassnectar. That was the single most attended set and was terrific. I last say this DJ at Bonnaroo maybe a decade ago. While it was good I wouldn’t say it was the most memorable of the weekend. Thinking back, Lotus and Pretty Lights were probably the most exciting.

There was great energy throughout and overall, the event made for a cohesive blend of music that I was glad to come out for. Perhaps the highlight was spending Saturday with Coyote (who came to MAY Fest with me). We partied with the kids, raged the Swisher Sweets tent (giant Jenga and Connect Four), and she always keeps me dancing when I start to drain out. The camping is borderline stressful at this venue and I suspect that after Peach this year, I may splurge for a hotel when I come back. That said, I will definitely come back.

#prettylights at #campbisco #52showsayear

A post shared by Aaron Mandelbaum (@aaronmstagram) on

#wookparade #campbisco

A post shared by Aaron Mandelbaum (@aaronmstagram) on



 

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