Festivals

Camp Bisco Makes Triumphant Return in 2015



August 17th, 2015

by

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Camp Bisco has been a staple of festival culture in the Northeastern US for more than a decade now. Run by electronica band The Disco Biscuits, the three day campout always features a diverse lineup of jam bands and producers, as well as fresh talent and established names. Last year, after having some difficulty securing venue permits, it was announced that Bisco would be taking a year off in 2014. The news left many fans disappointed, myself included. Shortly after it was announced by MCP Presents, the people who ran Bisco at that time, that a new festival was being planned in Bisco’s native New York, but at a different venue. That festival became The Hudson Project, known as “New Bisco” to some fans. The Hudson Project’s debut was met with heavy criticism by the time it was over. Excessive security and a poorly-ran shuttle system made the entry process take upwards of eight hours for some guests, and when it started down pouring on day three and the festival was cancelled, some were forced to abandon all their stuff and helplessly watch as it floated away. When it was announced this year that Camp Bisco had been bought by Live Nation and would be returning at a new venue, there was one question on everybody’s minds: would this be the Bisco we knew and loved, or a rehash of The Hudson Project?

 
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This year, I opted to take the MASS EDMC Bus from Boston to Bisco. We arrived at the festival just before midnight on Thursday. It took between three and four hours to get all the way up the mountain to our drop-off point, though compared to my experiences at previous Bisco’s in 2012 and 2013, it was par for the course. After a light search we were dropped off at the front gates and told to wait for a tractor to come and pick us up and bring us to the campgrounds with all of our gear. The wait periods between tractors began getting longer and longer until they just stopped running completely around 4 AM. Nobody really seemed to know what was going on or when they planned on running them again, so my friend and I decided to walk to the campgrounds ourselves. It was about 6 AM Thursday morning when we finally got ourselves settled in and ready for the weekend.

 
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Bisco’s new home at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania but I came away very impressed. The venue features a full built-in waterpark with slides, a wave pool, lazy river, and other rides. One of the stages overlooked the wave pool and lazy river, allowing us to cool off while we enjoyed the show. The whole place felt more like a resort than a festival – there was even a full-sized lodge with a restaurant and bar inside. The main stage area was probably the most impressive part of the venue to me. They had a massive amphitheatre with a general admission pit in the front of the stage followed by rows of seats under a big tent that provided some much-needed shade during the day. When the chairs ended you still had a huge lawn to sit on and enjoy the show from in the back.

 
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Getting from the campgrounds to the stages was typically a smooth process. There were alcohol checkpoints between them but they were quick and easy to deal with. My only real complaints with Bisco this year were primarily with how it was organized. We would ask staff members where something was and would be told to head in one direction, only to be told by another staff member that we weren’t allowed to be where we ended up and had to turn around. The venue definitely could’ve used some signs to give the place a general sense of direction and order, especially since the maps they handed out to everybody didn’t seem to match up with the actual layout of the venue. There were free water stations you could refill bottles at by each of the stages, but they were difficult to find and many of the hoses were broken or flowed very slowly. Given how hot it got on the mountain during the day, I was disappointed to see that they weren’t better maintained.

 
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I was blown away by the production budget some of the headliners were working with during their late-night sets. STS9’s set was definitely among the highlights for me. The way their lightshow moved with their music and synced so well with their performance made me realize the level of care and attention to detail that goes into putting on shows like that. The Disco Biscuits brilliantly utilized the lights as well, and gave each of their night sets a cinematic quality that really enhanced the overall experience for me. As he’s done in previous years, Bassnectar packed out the entire main stage area for one of the last sets of night three; you could tell he was just as happy to be back as the crowd was.

 
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I came away from Bisco very satisfied this year and am optimistic for the festival’s future looking forward. The move to Montage Mountain was a bit rocky at times, but I can definitely see the venue becoming Bisco’s new home provided they learn from their mistakes this year. The shuttle situation was definitely worse for some than it was for others, and I’m sure The Biscuits and the rest of the staff know that it needs to be improved. If I could offer one more suggestion it would be to start taking volunteer staff again next year. Much of the staff seemed stressed out this year and many were even less familiar with the venue than I was. Giving some volunteers free tickets in exchange for helping people get around the festival would take some of the stress off the paid staff. If you decided to skip Bisco this year to see how it’d fare under the new venue and management, I’m happy to report that it made the transition successfully. See you next year!

 

 

 



Steve's obsession with music began when he was 16; he saw his then-favorite band, Metallica, play the TD Garden in Boston. His musical tastes have broadened since then, but he is still chasing that feeling of excitement & unity he felt at his first show. His introduction to the dance music came when friends brought him to a Bassnectar show, and he hasn't looked back since. When Steve heard MASS EDMC were looking for writers, he jumped at the chance to get more involved. Writing for MASS EDMC has given Steve a rare opportunity to combine two of his passions: writing & live music.