Road to Camp Bisco – Will McCosker
As I gear up for year 13 of Camp Bisco, I pause to reflect on the experiences I’ve had at this amazing festival since I first found out about its existence. I’ve been to Camp Bisco four times from 2010 to 2013. I was late in discovering the Biscuits. I didn’t see my first show until 2007, but I instantly became a fan. From that point on, I was hooked: after seeing that show, I attended my first High Sierra Music Festival (where the Biscuits were playing) and then attended the last Jamaican Holidaze. As it happened, one of my friends in SF happened to be good friends with Allen and other members of the Biscuits crew from back in the Skydog Gypsy days. As a result, I got to know Allen really well and we became great friends.
In Jamaica, Allen introduced me to his friend, another drummer. I remember that this scrappy kid was full of energy and we instantly became close. That kid was Scotty Zwang, the current Dopapod drummer. Scotty and I hung out for all of Holidaze and on the last day he mentioned that I should come to New York for the big festival that the Biscuits host every year. I agreed. That following July, I was on my way to my first Camp.
At Camp 9, I happened to know someone working Artist Relations and managed to get my hands on my own golf cart, the preferred mode of transportation at the festival. In addition, I somehow got tasked with doing artist escort. I had no clue who most of the people I was transporting were, but I had a blast in spite of my ignorance. I remember picking up Major Lazer (Diplo, DJ Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire) and bring them back to artist relations. They were rowdy and we decided to just drive around the festival campsite and see the sights and people for 2 hours.
Camp 9 was also so memeorable because it was my first time seeing LCD Soundsystem. I “somehow” ended up on top of an RV. A massive disco ball was spinning and my I was transfixed for the entire set. I had never seen anything like LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy was incredible and the audience was digging every minute of it. The remainder of that night was a blur, but I still remember the LCD set.
One last thing about Camp 9 that sticks in my mind was meeting Beef. For anyone in the Camp/Bisco/East Coast music scene, you know Beef. That’s all I have to say about that.
Camp 10 was again another amazing experience. And it provided me with perhaps my favorite musical memories from all of my camps.
I have two that definitely jump out at me. The first was watching the New Deal from side stage at Camp 10. I remember standing there next to this guy who was talking my ear off during their set. I couldn’t help but notice that he had a really strange haircut and I wondered why anyone would shave just the side of their head. I also kept thinking that he looked uncannily like Corey Feldman. He introduced himself as Sonny and we hung and talked for the remainder of the New Deal set. Later that night after the Biscuits played, Allen told me we were going to go see Skrillex. I remember looking right at him and saying “What’s a Skrillex?” (To some Bisco family, I’m affectionately known as “Willex” because of this incident). We hopped in the golf cart and drove up to the late night tent. When we finally got into the backstage are, I realized that the Sonny I had met and this Skrillex character were one and the same. Small world.
My other top musical memory from Camp 10 was the Shpongle Live Band. I was, and still am, a big Joe Russo fan, and when I found out he was drumming with Shpongle, I was pumped. The weather was your typical Camp weather. Warm, then cloudy, then pissing down rain, then clear, then raining, then tornado warnings. General chaos. For much of the set, heavy rain drenched the onlookers. But there was plenty to distract from the less-than-ideal conditions. The show was full of music, dancers, contortionists, flutes, and weird slinky things that gyrated on stage…it was just unbelievable. Allen and I stood side stage watching Russo just own it. But more than this, the thing that really stuck out to me was the crowd. This was the first time the Shpongle Live Band had played in the States, and despite the torrential downpour the crowd raged on. It was really something special to witness.
Sharing my experience of Camp Bisco became important to me, and I bought a GoPro before Camp 11 (in 2012). I brought it with me and convinced Allen to let me put it on his kit during one of the sets. When i saw the results, I decided that someone (me) should get more GoPros and position them on stage to film the sets. I again paired up with Scotty Zwang, and he and I filmed all six of the Biscuits sets. These were some pretty epic sets, and I was stoked to have captured them. We used nine cameras to capture the performances, and when I got home I edited the videos to create six full sets of music synced with the Soundboard audio. The band released the first of the six recently with the announcement of this year’s Camp. You can check out the video here:
Whether you’re considering checking out Camp Bisco for the first time, or whether you’re a seasoned attendee, you learn (or are reminded) quickly that everything about the festival is a “must not be missed” feature. That’s the thing about camp…there’s always something going on, whether it’s live bands, DJ’s, campsite parties, campsite shows, silent discos, or just hanging out and making new friends. There’s never a dull or down moment. But I’ll give you one key insider’s tip: if I could only go to one thing, it would definitely be the Biscuits’ daytime set on Day 3–always the best. And the set I’m looking most forward to this year (other than the Biscuits, obviously) is Wyllys. He kills it every time and it’s always a dance party. Plus, how can you not love Wade?? Honestly.
Actually, I lied. I have lots of insider’s tips. In order to help you maximize your Bisco experience, I’ve compiled a list of some of the things I wish I had known before going to Camp my first time:
As a west coaster, you don’t get the weather that you will experience on the east coast. Dress accordingly.
If someone on a quad with his woman on his back says something to you, you should listen. Those guys aren’t to be fucked with.
Bring a water bottle (It’s common sense for any festival. Stay hydrated!)
Use a bandanna to cover your nose and mouth so you don’t inhale a ton of dust
Pack some sort of shoe that can withstand the mighty mud of Camp Bisco (Even with a new location, there will be mud. It just wouldn’t be Camp Bisco without a bunch of mud.)
Keep an open mind. Some of my favorite music was discovered just by going to see a band I didn’t know.
And, it bears repeating: pace yourself. No reason to go balls out on night one.
What is it about Camp Bisco has that sets it apart from other festivals? Bikers? I don’t know. I guess it’s just such a cool experience with great people, but i suppose that could be said about many festivals. I’ll just go with Lasers. Yes. Lasers.
See you all at Camp 13.
Sensible Reason is looking for submissions to our Road to Camp Bisco (RtCB) series. Please submit posts to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on how to write your own and examples of last years posts check out this link!