After a hiatus of one year, the beloved Summer festival known as Camp Bisco roared back to life in 2015. The return of Camp Bisco, held July 16-18, saw the event ditch its original home in New York for the greener pastures of Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The festival came back stronger than ever with a lineup that appealed to both fans of jam bands and electronic music. Many veterans of the festival were skeptical of the change of scenery, but still ecstatic that the festival was once again returning.
We have been covering Camp Bisco for the past several years (2012 article, 2013 article), and attended it as fans prior to that, so we were pleased to see that the year off in 2014 had not become a permanent occurrence.
In the early going, some complaints from festival goers first stemmed from not being able to change travel plans to attend the Wednesday “Adult Swim” pre-party. These complaints only grew larger when Wednesday actually arrived, and guests had to wait in line for hours to enter the camping grounds (as cars were thoroughly searched and circled by dogs). There were some poor souls who had to sit through 10+ hours of waiting for a shuttle to arrive for them to be transported up the mountain, only to be greeted by a tractor to take them even farther from their cars. We were a little disappointed to see sober camping taken away after only the pre-night of the festival. There had been barricades separating sober camping from the normal camping but they were removed on Thursday. Personally we really appreciated that there was consideration for the sober contingent. We just wish it had been maintained.
Once settled in at Montage Mountain, we explored the festival’s new digs. The food vendors were phenomenal, ranging from fresh fruit stands, to gourmet grilled cheese, to vegetarian wrap options. We were thoroughly impressed with the food options. The food was so much better than what we have come to expect as acceptable at festivals. Each vendor offered popular twists on classics. The smoothies we had were to die for. The water-park was vital due to the heat and amount of energy it took to walk up the mountain each day. The cool water offered a welcoming oasis for patrons of the festival. The rides and slides were nothing short of a great time and the lazy river was a fan favorite over the course of Camp Bisco.
While camping on a ski slope covered in rocks wasn’t ideal, it’s what we were given and we had to make the best of it. Obviously, the highlight of the weekend was the music. The line-up at Camp Bisco was everything one could have hoped for with expected highlights from STS9, Bassnectar, Tipper, and the Biscuits. One of the best sets of the weekend was held at Steamtown, where Branx filled the air with his passion that was met by all who were listening.
The Pavilion at Montage Mountain held four stages which housed the music for the weekend, but certainly not all of the entertainment. ‘Steamtown’, the smallest outdoor stage, housed artists such as Subset, Lido, Mr. Carmack, and Ghastly. While this stage was tiny, it packed a punch with its range of artists. ‘Above The Waves’ stage housed artists like Zoogma, The Floozies, and Tipper. This stage was highlighted by the surrounding wave pool which was a treat for overheated fans. We even saw some people swimming around like sharks in the pool during Jauz’s set late Saturday night. A shocking moment occurred here when Zoogma, a Nashville jamtronica band, was unpleasantly greeted on stage by a fan who jumped up and tackled Ryan Nall, their bassist. ‘Electric City’ was the main stage for the event. It was covered by a massive tent and had an entire lawn section. This is the stage that housed the headlining acts for each evening such as The Disco Biscuits, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, and Bassnectar. ‘The Disco Lodge’ was actually inside of the Lodge at Montage Mountain, and was very much appreciated because who wouldn’t want all of the great music from artists like Craz, Super Nicer, and Branx, without having to deal with the bugs biting you outside?
While the weather was mostly sunny on the first few days of Camp Bisco, the rain possibility on Saturday afternoon into the evening was not going over well with patrons as the final day of the festival began. While Saturday was a scorcher, the crowd knew something was bound to happen. Manic Focus’s set was cut short as a voice came over the speakers at the main stage urging every patron to seek shelter as there was an incoming thunderstorm. Crowds of people started to flee to get back to their tent, but then the voice appeared again urging everyone to stay under the tent. Hoards of people were insanely nervous that this would be another Hudson Project, where they would not get to see their favorite artist, Bassnectar, perform and instead would be stuck on the grounds in the mud and chaos. However, as soon as the storm passed, The Disco Biscuits resumed the event and kicked it off with one of their best sets of the weekend. The rain was handled in the best way possible and as a reward Mother Nature dropped a beautiful rainbow over Montage Mountain as the precipitation withdrew from the area.
Our top five favorite sets of the weekend go to The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Tipper, and STS9 (and let’s just throw Branx in there for good measure). Overall we had a great time at Camp Bisco (as did the majority of the people we spoke with). It definitely seemed like the staff wasn’t fully prepared for a festival of this magnitude (or the kind of patrons who attend Camp Bisco) but they did the best they could. Shuttles were few and far between, many ice stations ran out of ice, and most staff members (security) were not well informed when it came to answering patron’s questions. H0wever, the time we spent at Camp Bisco was enjoyable, memorable, and the minor problems can be worked on before next year. Of course we plan to return to Camp Bisco in 2016, and we hope to see you there!
[Photo credit: Conor Gray]
[Article by Alyssa Anderson & David Miller]
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