Camp Bisco X: Day Two
Words By Stevie Tee
Photos By Joe Le (Joe Le Foto)
In the morning we woke up to sprinkles of rain falling on our tent. This was our indicator to prepare for an epic storm that Camp Bisco has become synonymous with. However, the weather held up reasonably well until much later in the evening. Indoor bathrooms were still clean, people were lined up for showers and others opted to just rinse off under water spigots. Later in the weekend I’d heard complaints from some that certain bathrooms weren’t cleaned or able to be used because of a lack of running water, though I never experienced these issues myself throughout the festival. We had a very relaxed morning of eating, getting as clean as possible without showering and preparing for more rain.
We tried to catch the end of Papadosio’s set but the main stages were actually running about 20 minutes early so the first set of the day was Easy Star All-Stars. This top-notch line up brought the feel-good reggae vibes that are always perfect for an early afternoon slot. Some lovely original tunes got the set rolling for the group that is most known for their dub/reggae interpretations of classic rock albums. They eventually busted into “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” into “With a Little Help From My Friends” to start off their covers. Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” was a stand out performance as was a jammed out “Money”, made famous by Pink Floyd. I’d love to catch them again when they cover of an entire album or even for more original songs.
The next show we caught was Break Science’s set with RJD2. Redman, a friend of the Wu-Tang Clan, was slated at the last minute to perform as a part of this set but never appeared. The situation came off as gimmicky. With Redman’s absence and RJD2 only playing half of the set, the whole thing seemed like a strange hodge-podge thrown together to hype up their set. Break Science drummer Adam Deitch has had a long relationship with Camp Bisco and probably just wanted to do something special for the event. The first half of the set was interesting with RJD2 playing a standard set of tracks like “1976” and “The Horror”, with Break Science as an accompanying band. It was interesting to hear RJD2 play with Adam Deitch on drums plus keyboards and other production elements. Break Science played the second half of their set alone and the overbearing dubstep basses and hard hip-hop beats just felt forced to me. The set had moments but was a letdown overall.
On the other main stage, the music switched gears dramatically with Black Moth Super Rainbow presenting their dreamy blend of psychedelic electro-pop. Gorgeous waves of analog synthesizers washed over the concert field, even as a part of the vocal melodies, which were all heavily treated by a vocoder and countless effects. Songs ranged from danceable to slow romantic shoegaze. Everything was soaked in texture. The music felt like floating on some of the storm clouds slowly starting to roll in. The only complaints to be had was that their music didn’t stray too far from their studio recordings or possibly that the band’s stage presence wasn’t very engaging. However, when speaking strictly about music, the band played well as they created a sound that is otherworldly.
Since the main stages were running a bit early, I was able to catch a few songs from Disco Biscuits side project Conspirator before heading to see Four Tet. Comprised of Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, Raq’s Chris Michetti and a rotating cast of drummers, this time being Lotus’s current drummer Mike Greenfield, Conspirator was dropping some bass-heavy burners. This project clearly found Brownstein and Magner exploring even more production-based electronic elements which allows The Disco Biscuits to grow sonically and musically for their future endeavors. Everyone was playing well from what I heard, but I wasn’t turned on enough by the first few songs to stay much longer. Perhaps it came later in the set, but I preferred when this project had more of a live drum and bass style. Most of what I heard was a heavy club hip-hop sound that bordered on cheesy dubstep. I would’ve liked to hear the whole set to get a better feel for the project, which is working on a new album and tour, but Four Tet was one of the main reasons I came. It was time to check him out.
Arriving to the Grooveshark tent, the atmosphere felt as if a spaceship ready to ascend into another dimension as Four Tet began his set. Though a lot of his tracks came from There is Love in You and Ringer EP, the tracks were all extended and explored incredibly. Surprisingly, I believe he was DJing considering I heard a Floating Points remix of his song “Sing”, but it certainly didn’t feel like one with the way he pulled tracks apart and controlled all of the elements so masterfully. This was intense intergalactic chamber music that was nothing short of mind blowing. The melodic end was delicate and beautiful while the grooves were edgy and raw. For one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend, my expectations were actually exceeded!
Leaving the Grooveshark tent to head over to Shpongle meant it was time to face the big storm of the weekend, though it did provide some added theatrics for the psychedelic circus of Shpongle’s first US live band performance. After having a big summer with the Shpongletron tour, they finally brought the whole band performance to the festival that has been embracing Shpongle long before the likes of Bonnaroo. Female vocalists made ethereal melodies that seemed to call on lightning through siren songs. Acoustic strings gave Shpongle’s compositions an organic sheen that was breathtaking. It was salsa music from space, ambient trance from beyond the universe. Fortunately you don’t have to rely solely on my descriptions of the music for this once-in-a-lifetime performance, you can listen to it here…
The storm was starting to settle as The Disco Biscuits were about to take over the main stage for their first set of Friday night. ”Vassillios” was a great way to kick things off and got the rain soaked crowd engaged with it’s call-and-response-type composition. There were “Cyclone” teases aplenty in the the jam into “Rock Candy” as there had been the previous night. Some of the best jamming of the night came when boys found their way into “Lunar Pursuit”, the ending of which saw the band dropping to a much lower tempo and getting into some dark, creepy themes. Gradually the band started picking up the pace,transitioning from dark to bright and cheery as they melted into crowd favorite “Story of the World”. From out of nowhere during the middle of the “Story of the World” jam, Brownstein started plunking out the first notes of “Basis for a Day” as the crowd erupted. It was a unifying experience to see everyone’s arms in the air singing the “Ohhhhhh’s” at the crescendo preceding the drop into the slap bass section of “Basis”. Brownstein was taking his time and extending his slap sections more than usual, creating some nice dynamics for the jam that would lead to one of my favorite new songs “Catalyst”. The slower, spaced-out feel of this song fit nicely sandwiched in between the beginning and ending of “Basis for a Day”. However, time constraints were becoming an issue as the band seemed to rush their way through the “Basis for a Day” ending. Small potatoes... this set contained some of the most interesting jams of the weekend.
Vassillios > Rock Candy > Lunar Pursuit > Story Of The World > Basis For A Day > Catalyst > Basis For A Day
Ratatat was the first set break artist of the weekend and they did a great job of keeping things interesting with live guitar and bass playing to compliment the computerized production elements. It wasn’t what you’d expect from a Camp Bisco set break artist, no one spinning four-on-the-floor untz, no psytrance and certainly no teenybopper hip-hop or clubstep. They brought a transcendental, melodic glow that shines over experimental, yet put together indie-hop beats. The smooth and quirky compositions didn’t stray far away from their studio versions but certainly exceeded them energy and lush sound quality. You could dance to this set or sit down and let your mind unravel to the most unique visuals that I saw all weekend. This was most unique set break artist I’ve heard or seen The Disco Biscuits utilize in quite some time.
For their last set of the evening, the setlist made a perfect palindrome in what was arguably the best Biscuits set of the weekend. “Astronaut” came out swinging unmercifully and dropped into the beginning of “I-man”. Always a big sing-along with even bigger jams, the group transitioned seamlessly into the beginning of “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night”, a song which they usually segue into the ending by inverting the song. Next was the song “Bombs”, which debuted at last year’s Camp Bisco and has become quite a heavy hitter with its huge build-ups and chaotic keyboard breakdown. After “Bombs”, they worked through the endings of the three previous songs one by one with patient jams between all of them. One of the highlights of this set was the suspended-in-the-air jam during “Astronaut” that definitely made one feel suspended in the air in the deep reaches of space. By the peak of “Astronaut”, it was obvious the band was wrapping up the set because of it’s set list construction. This was their best night of the weekend though their afternoon set and final set the following day were nothing to sneeze at.
Tonight was the first official late night with the Grooveshark and the dance tent bumping until about four in the morning. James Murphy’s record label DFA sponsored the dance tent with an all-night disco party. Holy Ghost kicked things off with a DJ set as opposed to their full-band live set ups. Surprisingly this was a welcome decision for me as I’ve already seen the Holy Ghost live show, and their DJing completely slayed. One might even say that they topped Pat Mahoney and James Murphy himself as Special Disco Version. Holy Ghost’s style of disco was much more futuristic and spacey with tracks warping in and out and enveloping into each other. There were great drops throughout, perfect for shaking your groove thing. Special Disco Version had more of a vintage feel and organic instrumentation though the two groups seemed like they might have been trading off tunes at the transition of their sets. Special Disco Version were smooth and funky with only one transitioning flub at the very end of the night when they abruptly dropped into “Naïve Melody (This Must Be The Place)” by The Talking Heads to wrap things up. Despite the minor train wreck, the song crowd response was huge for the song that was familiar to all.
Amidst the evening’s disco get down, we definitely made a point to stop by the Grooveshark tent and check out Ghostland Observatory’s unmistakable robot indie rock. Their lasers were in full force as they dropped bouncy bangers like “Move With Your Lover”. While the singer’s voice can be grating and annoying to some listeners, I think it has a certain charm that fits their sound quite well... to each their own. For those who might have been bothered by the vocals, a number of lengthy instrumentals were included in their set for good measure. Ghostland did a nice job of extending and adapting certain songs for the live setting. It was a fun set and it’s easy to see why these guys are hitting every festival from Bonnaroo to Ultra. Since I’d already seen them once before I spent more time over at the Disco tent, but they still put on a cool show, not to mention the enormous Grooveshark tent was completely packed every night and particularly muddy on this night from all the rain. In addition to the late night shows in the tents, the Philadelphia Experiment (PEX) had DJs with massive visuals, dance/aerial troupes and flames as well as the VIP tent which featured exclusive late night performances. It was a great day and an even better night of music with only one day left to go.
Camp Bisco Day One Coverage
Camp Bisco Day Three Coverage
Joe’s Photo Gallery