Bassnectar is one of a slew of raging acts on the last day of Camp Bisco X.
It’s 6 a.m. on Sunday, the last day of Camp Bisco, the sun is up, and
I’m …. still … DANCING.
Luckily so is Supersillyus in front of me and all our friends from Allston as he represents by destroying the “other guy” DJ. It’s like Rob is taking us on a three-minute psychedelic field trip through his laptop. His music would be perfect played in the background during a tour of the constellations, until Rob speeds it up and starts throwing in insane mad-Scientist cackles, and like Dr. Frankenstein, creates life—now the whole planetarium is dancing.
The kid dancing next to me suddenly springs in front of me holding a bag of powder. He has glow sticks attached to him in the most peculiar places, and their fading glow is like a shot of reality, signaling that Bisco soon has to end.
He motions for me to take off one side of my headphones, and Supersillyus is replaced with a shocking silence, because we’re at the Silent Disco stage. The party continues without disturbing our fellow zonked out campers, and when you take your headphones off all you see is a bunch of people dancing crazily in the morning silence, and outbursts like “YEAH!” “Fuck. Yeah. Super. Sillyus.” “dooo-doo-do-doo,” or “hahahaha AHHHHHH.” These are the troopers who want to savor Camp Bisco until the last possible second.
“Want some of this?” he asks, holding the bag up to me.
He’s got to be kidding me.
“Dude, are you crazy?! I’m not trying to lose my mind at 6 a.m. in the morning after being awake, dancing, and losing my mind all day for three days straight. Jesus.”
Barely alive, my eyes drooping, my body aching, though feeling totally alive with content exhaustion, my mind wanders back through the events of the day, and I can’t believe so much happened in 24 hours.
I woke on Saturday morning in the fetal position on the passenger seat of my Attorney’s car, peeping out from the only opening of the thick sleeping bag wrapped around me. The crunch of a half-eaten family-sized bag of pretzels startles me, so I push open the door and step my mud-encrusted foot into the dewy grass—then trip—over my flowing skirt. And fall into a heap in the mud.
Where am I? How did I get here? I scratch my head and my hair is turning into dreads. There’s a business card on the passenger seat that reads: KeepAlbanyBoring.com. Hmm… it’s all coming back to me.
“DIMITRI!” I scream. No answer.
“DIMITRI!!!!” I’m growing exasperated. He could be buried up to his neck in mud by now. He left me last night after I refused to leave the incubated car. He could’ve been dosed and lost forever. Or worse yet…
Then I realize I should probably just check the tent. He’s passed out hard; if I were a passerby I’d think he was dead.
“Yo we ‘gotta move, let’s go it’s 6:30 a.m. we have to go to Schenectady to that Dunkin Donuts to get wi-fi!”
“As your Attorney I advise you to go back to sleep…” he mutters without moving, looking up at me like a red-eyed monster who can barely lift his eyelids.
I grab his arm and shove him into the passenger seat of my car.
Turns out this girl we ran into last night who I asked to borrow a pen writes for the blog on that business card, and said she’s one of the only people who’s been able to have live coverage of the festival, since there’s no Internet in this dimension. She also told me if I drive 20 minutes away from the campsite there are Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks everywhere with free wi-fi. At least there are no Tim Hortons, I think fleetingly….
The campgrounds are eerily silent as my tires spin violently until they catch and we skate out of Camp Bisco. Not even my favorite security guard, who I lovingly referred to the whole weekend only as “Phish” is awake (we had an excited conversation about SuperBall IX after I told him I’ve seen them about 10 times). It feels like Dimitri and I are the only people alive on the planet until I spot a guy with a white tee, jeans, and a dark five o-clock shadow who looks kind of like an Italian James Dean standing at the exit gate, looking lost.
“Gotta catch a flight back to Cali today. I came to Camp Bisco for the day but my friends got a little too crazy for me—well REALLY crazy—so I just gotta get out of here…Where are you going?”
I ask him what they’re doing that’s so crazy and he tries to articulate, but then says it’s impossible to explain.
Rodrigo is now in the back of my car talking a mile a minute. He’s an actor in California and has been in commercials and 90210. He grew up in Schenectady, the next town over, and is crashing with his parents while taking a day trip to Camp Bisco. He said that because the festival is sold out, people have been venturing through the surrounding woods and jumping over fences to get in. No one will be stopped, there’s about 200 more people than capacity, and that’s just a rough estimate, Rodrigo says.
After making at least five wrong turns, backtracking, and questioning ourselves to the point where we think we’ve been going in circles, I squelch into Starbuck’s and post our Day 1 coverage on DigBoston.com
We’re almost out of gas until we find twenty bucks that Rodrigo snuck under my emergency break for the ride (“If you’re ever in LA, you guys have a place to stay”), and use it to refuel and head back to the festival.
As we walk past a million shoes that were abandoned in the mud last night and have become part of the ground today, we hear the Disco Biscuits playing yet again at 2 p.m.
They ended the set with “Air Song” leading into “World is Spinning,” both two of my favorite Bisco anthems.
Though the Disco Biscuits are smart guys and talented musicians, and Jon Gutwillig was so nice when we talked about how we’re both from small towns in PA and how he went to Penn like my brother, it’s a bit oppressive that they play so many times at their own festival.
Luckily Lettuce comes on at 3:15 and they got the funk.
A three-man brass section, manning two saxophones and a trumpet, dance between solos as the coolest long-haired bassist, Erick “E.D.” Coomes, wearing a cap that says “RAGE!” (coincidentally the name of Lettuce’s third album) helps the drummer’s (Adam Deitch) cow bell maneuver through the changes of tempos and perfectly timed buildups as we all break it down like James Brown with Lettuce.
Skillful guitarist Eric Krasno (also in Soulive), who looks like a member of the Blues Bros., shreds awesome bluesy solos as he jams with the laughing, Fedora’d Neal Evans, one of the greatest keyboard players on the planet and probably the one who’s having the most fun grooving as he plays.
These guys are seriously talented musicians, which makes sense when you find out that they all went to the Berklee School of Music.
“We’re going to have a dance party, alright?” Krasno announces. “We’re Lettuce, we love you!”
Looking back into the crowd, a huge sea of kids shake their hips to the sound of shaking Maracas. A giant bubble with a Bisco Camper inside is bouncing around over the crowd. I can’t stop laughing because dancing to Lettuce is so much fun.
We heard from people in the VIP section that somewhere someone is giving out these bright blue, reflective Police sunglasses and walk up and down Shakedown street until we find the stand. I ask if I can have a pair, but to my dismay, the girl [barely] wearing a skin-tight Police Officer uniform tells me they’re $150.
“What! I thought they were free, Jesus Christ,” I say disappointedly.
My attorney and I run back stage and see more of the Police girls at a booth in the artist lounge. They give us two pairs of the coolest aviators I’ve ever seen. NICE.
Outside the tent we run into a little hula-hooping Hawiian gypsy dancer whose belly button peeks out from between her flowy skirt and shimmering top as the a string of bells around her shoulder jingles with her every move. Giggling, she tells us how she has no home, and is following the Easy Star All-Stars on tour. A couple years ago, they invited her to come dance on stage during one of their shows, and loved her so much that she became a part of their touring family.
“I wasn’t going to be able to make it to Camp Bisco, but the Easy Stars gave me gas money, so now I’m here!” she says, her eyes sparkling. Talk about feeling the love.
On our way back out, Phish is bummed. He wishes he could come with us to dance to “I should have taken acid with you,” which Neon Indian is now playing on Main Stage B.
“Hey, hey, keep that chin up. Who just got to go to the Phish festival?” I ask him as if I’m consoling a five year old.
“I did,” he says, reluctantly breaking into a huge grin. “…and it was AWE-SOME.”
He says he just wishes he didn’t have to work security for the whole festival and could see the bands, but I say, hey, what better job than to get to listen to great music all day long, even if you can’t be in the crowd.
“Yeah, I guess I just really want a pair of those blue police sunglasses,” he says out of nowhere. “I keep asking where to get them, but nobody will tell me! I want them so badly!”
My Attorney takes his off and hands them to Phish.
“Wait, REALLY? Wow, thank you SO MUCH,” Phish says, putting the glasses on and laughing happily.
“You know what, you know what—you guys goin’ to the Vibes?” he asks us and we nod. “Who do you most want to see?” he says, looking at me. “Pick anyone, any one artist and I will get you backstage to meet them.”
“Keller Williams,” I say, tears welling up in my eyes because if I got to talk to Keller about his music, I don’t know, I’d be overwhelmed with joy.
This emotional moment for me is shattered by the sound of Wiz Khalifa strutting onto Main Stage A, looking stupid fly in his fitted and wife beater, his tattoo sleeves glistening in the hot sun.
“Anybody that’s smokin’ weed out there make some noise,” the pot-obsessed Wiz says.
Between literally every song he says: “Anybody who’s got rolling papers out there, make some noise!” This is hardly a ploy to promote his new album; I think Wiz just loves smoking weed.
The fact that he references herbage every other minute, rather than annoying me, makes me laugh all the harder. Who is this ridiculous guy and why is his album Kush & Orange Juice (2010) so damn good? And why is “Black and Yellow” so goddamn catchy? “I HATE this song, it’s on every second on the radio,” I yell to my Attorney, then realize I’m dancing and singing along. Shit.
“I didn’t hear a word you just said!” Dimitri shouts over the gangsta bass as Khalifa moves into “Mesmerized” and I mimic driving my car “like a G,” while my Attorney grabs his crotch and we dance ghetto-style through the crowd.
While I appreciate the thoughtful lyrics of “Fly Solo,” released in March on his latest album, appropriately called Rolling Papers, (it hurts when it don’t last / no easy way saying bye / so I’mma spread my wings and head for the sky / and I fly solo)
I find it hard to take Wiz seriously when played in juxtaposition with the title track off of his February release Cabin Fever (Lot of niggas fake but me I’m these hoes’ faith / Feed her alcohol and leave that bitch with no taste / … Yeaaaaahhhhh bitch.) Hmm…
When Wiz finally wraps it up, I’m feeling kind of spacey and burnt out—which makes Death from Above 1979 scary as hell when they take the stage and the crowd starts forming into a swirling mosh pit of doom, led by what looks to me like a man from the Jetsons in an all white space-suit on drums and his partner rocking out with long black hair matching his entirely black attire.
Fleeing towards the Grooveshark tent, I keep checking the sky to make sure there’s no sign of something coming to kill me from above.
It seems that most others feel the same and can’t handle that much intensity with such jumbled heads, which leads us all to the brilliant UK DJ duo Nero’s set. The Grooveshark tent is so packed that people are literally spilling out onto the grass outside and there’s a solid wall of bodies leaving no points of entrance.
“I can’t go in there.” “I’m going in.”
My Attorney and I say at exactly the same time. I snake my way through sweaty, shirtless boys and barely-clad girls to the very middle of the dance floor for one of the nastiest sets and craziest dance parties I’ve ever been a part of. I instantly make friends with all the guys around me as Dan Stephens of Nero blows our faces off.
Dan Stephens and Joe Ray dropped the bass harder than it seems realistically possible in 2010, smashing into the dubstep scene with their album Innocence (2010), which earned them the title “Best Dubstep Act.” This year, they dropped Welcome to Reality (2011), with the epic track “Me and You” making BBC Radio 1’s A List. The duo is now in high demand, and Camp Bisco X managed to supply us with a healthy dose of good dub.
Stephens gives us “Guilt” (“you keep on talking but you make no sense at all” I scream along to the kid next to me, who has been blubbering something about how great NERO is and trying and failing to stealthily dance with me from behind without me noticing), the incredibly awesome remix of N.E.R.D. and Daft Punk’s “Hypnotize You,” (keep in mind I’m losing my shit, waving my hands in the air, while rocking my hips to the bass this whole time, totally transfixed on the insane lights)—oh Jesus, here, the Youtube video I shot sums it all up a bit better, with one tiny little buildup:
Look out, here comes the Rage-a-saurus Rex.
Apparently according to my attorney I came out of the tent after Nero and bounced up to our gravel hill meeting spot looking totally crazed. I jerked my phone up and down above my head triumphantly, then grabbed both of my attorney’s shoulders and shook him like an escapee from the insane asylum.
“NERO KILLED IT!!!!” I roared, barely able to speak. “I C-C-CAPTURED THE MOST EPIC MOMENT.”
Some kid with bug-eyes runs into me and knocks me over. There is a massive group of overjoyed, bug-eyed, sweaty fiends advancing upon us, making their way to the spicket to fight over water and stay alive.
As the light fades, we make a quick stop back at our car to steal some of Mike Nusbaum’s Clif bars (we had tried to barter with Canadian money left over from our adventures in Toronto, but it didn’t work out). I grab Mike’s hoodie since it is getting cold, and as we make our way back to the camp site this weird green-glowing-bat-moth-thing trips us the hell out as a couple across the dirt path stops and stares as well.
“WHAT IS THAT THING!!!!!!”
We cannot stop laughing; it looks like an animated digitized moth-butterfly and jumps and flutters around with the weirdest movements. Maybe a black moth super rainbow? I don’t know how long we stared at it. (Found out later it’s known as the Luna Moth.)
Suddenly a lone tiger passes by us, coming from the direction of our own campsite. He then stops and turns around, “Hey guys!” Holy shit, we’ve run into Mike Nusbaum, who has been missing the whole day.
I have now been dancing straight for nearly three days, but the Bassnectar show still excites me. Every time I’ve seen him he blows my face off with that bass, and I’m either wearing some neon glowing outfit or some girl has dumped sparkles all over me in the bathroom before the show. It feels like the bass shakes the whole Earth during his set at Bisco.
WOMP WOMP. DOO-doo-doo-DOO-doo-doo. DOO-doo-doo. Doo. BASS HEAD.
It amazes me that when Lorin Ashton gets up there I am so far back in the monstrous crowd after coming from Nero that I can’t even see the stage and can only hear low-volume music, but everyone in the back is still raging out because we can all still hear the all-encompassing bass. He’s like a Bass God. Bass Nirvana. Bass… nectar.
“I cannot believe how far back you guys go!” Ashton says at one bass break. “All I see is little glowing lights and sticks.”
I dance my way into the VIP viewing area so I can actually see Ashton work his magic, swing his long black hair, and throw himself forwards and backwards.
“If you wanna get with me, theres some things you gotta know,” I scream crazily.
“I like my beats fast, and my bass down low, BASS BASS DOWN LOW.”
I’m probably dancing too intensely because all the media people look slightly concerned, but I am having the time of my life. During his remix of Estelle’s “I Can Be a Freak,” I fulfill the request of the song “he wanna see you get down low,” getting strange sidelong looks from the reporter standing next to me as I shake my hips with my hands in the air hailing Bassnectar as the God of dub and singing “I can be a freak, I can, I can be a freak.” God this is funny.
After dancing for the entire set, the thousands-deep crowd of happy Bisco campers migrates in a herd towards the Grooveshark tent for Pretty Lights’ long-awaited set. Suddenly I’m freezing cold, so my Attorney (“That was unbelievable!” he exclaims; this was his first time seeing Bassnectar) and I take a pit stop at a handmade dress tent because I spot a rack of beautifully woven skirts that look as if they were made for goddesses, shriek like a little girl, and refuse to budge until I find the perfect one so I can always remember Camp Bisco X.
“IT’S PERFECT!!!” I shout, hugging it to me. “How much is this??!?!”
I excitedly ask the bearded man standing behind the counter.
“Ah, that one’s one of our best. All hand-made; that rack is $40.”
My face melts into what must have been the most disappointed frown my Attorney has ever seen, emphasized by the huge smile on my face when I first found the skirt.
“Okay, okay, we’ll get it,” he says and starts fumbling through the remaining wad of bills we have left.
He says we have $31 left, and even though we can’t remember the last time we’ve eaten and were about to find food, he says this skirt is worth it.
“I can do it for $31,” the hippie man says, smiling as I jump for joy.
I run up to the counter and victoriously take the beautiful, soft fabric into my hands. Then proceed to stand behind a rack and put it right on; I have now become a certified 100% hippie flower child. A lady I ran into a couple days after Bisco stopped me on the street and asked me where I got that gorgeous skirt, and told me she had one just like it when she went to Woodstock in the 70s.
The Pretty Lights show is everything I expected, with awesome jazzy horns and catchy remixes taking us until 4:45 a.m. I’m dancing with glow sticks in both hands and swerving them around my body and in front of the faces of the kids around me as we all dance, slicing through the dark with glowing neon trails.
With soulful vocals mixed atop a bass that makes us all get down, Derek Vincent Smith hits us with “Finally Moving,” my favorite song off Making Up a Changing Mind: “I Can See it in your Face,” and two of my favorite of his 2010 Remixes, that of the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and Pink Floyd’s “Time.”
Seeing Smith and Cory Eberhard for the first time live blows me away, and I can totally understand why people who saw them at Bonnaroo said it was one of the best shows, and danced their way up to Camp Bisco X to see them again.
It is now 4:45 a.m. Supersillyus plays until 6 a.m. and his killer set brings out the sun. 72 hours later and I’m finally… done… dancing.
“Alright, it’s time to go home,” I say to Dimitri, who of course doesn’t hear me with his headphones on and eyes glued to the stage. So I grab his shirt and drag him away, down through the deserted fields of Camp Bisco, full of an endless expanse of trash, the sign of a raging all-night party.
The Bisco Avengers hit the road back to Boston, stopping along the way at a McDonald’s.
Swiss: “I want, like, two bacon egg and cheeses on a croissant! I want… those fucking tater tot things! and… maybe a bagel!”
I shake my head wearily. The line at the first McDonald’s rest stop takes about 45 minutes because it’s all people from the festival, caked with mud and ravenously hungry.
“I haven’t eaten in three days, man,” says the shirtless wook at the ketchup dispenser, carrying what looks like a five-pound bag of cheeseburgers.
“How’d you like the festival?” I ask.
“It was a RAGER, man,” he says, nodding enthusiastically.
As I pump gas the kid across from me, who’s wearing a Grateful Dead medallion, looks up and smiles. I ask him what his favorite show of the festival was.
“Shpongle, for sure.”
I get back into my car and look up to see a disheveled, dreaded kid in a three-cornered hat and corduroy pants pressing his face against my window, which I slowly roll down.
“Dude someone robbed our camp site, do you have ANY money you can possibly spare for gas.”
“Sure, man,” I say, handing him a five.
When I get home, I am about to take the kind of miraculous shower you only have after three days at a music festival.
Sunburnt, exhausted past the point of sleep, encased in a shell of dull warmth that signals severe sunburn, I slowly push open the door to my empty room in my quiet apartment, and creep up to the mirror.
My skin is brown, I have feather earrings on and a handmade patchwork skirt of all different hues. My hair is dreaded, my cheeks bright red, and there is a healthy, earthy shine all around me. My eyes look perfectly content but slightly droopy, when it hits me:
This is the first time I’ve thought about looking in the mirror for three days. And this is how I wish everything was. You know when you’ve had a truly amazing festival experience when without realizing it, you start looking outward: at the people playing music, the lights, the new friends around you dancing to it, and a carnival of errors that, when brought together, are correct.
You may miss the turn to your friends’ camp site a couple times and have to back track, but you know you’ll get there in the end, or run into something awesome along the way.
I may be alone in my room now, but all across the U.S. the 20,000+ other people who shared that experience with me are united in the epic memory, through different lenses, of course, of a
RAGING CAMP BISCO X.