|‘Who is muddy as fuck?” hollered dubstep DJ 12th Planet in between gusts of tent-rippling bass. The packed tent responded with a resounding holla back in anticipation of the next neck-breaking beat their host would drop.|
Saturday’s installment of the Disco Biscuits-curated festival, Camp Bisco, now in its 10th year, was just that: muddy as fuck. But from the looks of the scantily clad and sopping-wet crowd assembled in the Grooveshark tent for 12th Planet, the key to survival/enjoyment was to subvert the rain, laugh in its face and dance in its muddy consequence. When 12th Planet cued up the Rocky-inspired horns of Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” shirtless bros and bikini-clad ladies mashed in the mud as the driving rain puddled around their bare feet. At one point, a thoroughly bassed dude tried to jump the railing and get onstage, but was escorted out by a fleet of golf carts and Gators with two hulking biker security guards sitting on him to subdue his flailing limbs.
The clear highlight of the early evening was Four Tet’s set in the Grooveshark Tent. While the tag “folktronica” has often been applied to his work, mastermind Kieran Hebden had something entirely different planned for his Bisco audience. Opening with a spaced version of “Love Cry” from his 2010 album There Is Love in You, Hebden broke in the crowd with peels of high-pitched echo before dropping a souped-up “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” beat on their dome. He also reached farther back in his hard drive and played “Spirit Fingers” from his 2003 album Rounds, a rattling masterpiece with clipped samples of harp panning between the speaker columns. The crowd, although pleasantly buzzed on the heady mix, seemed a bit frustrated by the lack of snare in certain passages of his set, to which Hebden responded by punching up the tempo to an ecstatic pace and giving the crowd the aerobic experience they craved.
After Four Tet, those who weren’t too wet or wild-eyed mosied to the main stage area to catch the U.S. debut of Shpongle Live—U.K.-based psy-trance musician and wearer of strange masks Simon Posford. Posford sported a full band, including drummer Joe Russo of the Benevento Russo Duo and Furthur, flutes, saxophones, and back-up singers, filling the soggy air with funky breaks. Towards the end of the set, the alto sax player stepped to the front of the stage and ripped a trebly solo that froze the audience momentarily like a fire alarm, until their grimace turned into a devious smile and set their feet to moving.
The clouds parted for the Disco Biscuits headlining set on the main stage. The band played their signature blend of jam, trance, and rock, buoyed by a rowdy mass of followers. Guitarist Jon Gutwillig and keyboardist Aron Magner traded extended solos, journeying up the fret- and keyboard in search for that one orgasmic note that lives at crest of the treble cleff. Two hours is a short set for the Biscuits, but in the rumble of their final song they promised to be back for another at 11.
With hardly a lapse in the action, the silhouette of a long hair brandishing a Stratocaster flashed across the projection screen on the other adjacent mainstage and a swell of synthesizers announced the arrival of Ratatat. The duo of Skidmore alums’ distinct brand of beat science and baroque guitar counterpoint was backed by projections of myriad species of birds, their faces twitching in various states of annoyance. Successful Bisco performance rule No. 1: trippy projections; No. 2: laser beams.
If our bassed friend proved anything, much of Bisco’s appeal was not necessarily what the musicians were doing onstage, but the slurry of bass, skunk and sex in the air. Vendors hawked T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Sex, Drugs, and Dubstep.” Ladies rocked booty shorts and backpacks that read “Let’s Rage!” and wooly boots like the Ultimate Warrior. For the fully entrenched Bisco devotees, neon face paint, laser projectors, LED pacifiers, flip-flops sucked into the muck, and men wearing banana suits were whipped into a psychedelic swirl. On a muddy path by the row of vendors, a makeshift DJ booth was set up complete with go-go girls, one wearing little more than LED pasties on her nipples and the other looking like an R-Rated American Apparel ad. You’ll never guess what the DJ was playing? “Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew.
This festival is testament to the resolve of the human body in its golden age, somewhere between 19 and 23. Through rain, mud, lightning, pot, beer, heat, MDMA, and hours of dancing, Bisco fans persevered in search of the next ecstatic moment only to wake the next morning and do it again.