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Camp Bisco Invigorates the Communal Spirit

For the third year in a row, Camp Bisco returned to Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA this past weekend (July 13th-15th). Full to the brim with electrifying acts from around the world, the festival boasted one of the most talent-filled lineups of the summer of 2017. Patrons covered the ski slopes of Montage top to bottom, divvying themselves throughout the venue’s boisterous three stages- four when including the Good Looks Collective hosted renegade stage- and other numerous attractions, from water-park to zipline to an eclectic spread of art and food vendors.

Day One

A jubilant, sunny afternoon greeted festival-goers Thursday as the weekend’s performers were quick to get the P1480002music flowing. It was not long thereafter that a harmonious tapestry of sound polymerization, from funk to bass to hip hop to rock to disco, could be heard ricocheting from stage to stage, fully
blanketing the illustrious Montage Mountain. Early shiners for the day included an impressive spread of producer-DJ talent from Marvel Years, to Of The Trees, Esseks, and Subtronics; as well as the rollicking funk and blues big band Swift Technique, and the Grammy award winning New York crate-digger duo Brasstracks, both of whom set the Above The Waves Stage right into full throttle from the get go.

As the evening began to descend on the mountain, the clamoring assault of brilliant talent only became more fierce within the grounds. Gramatik brought patron’s energy to new heights.
P1480148Taking their rightful place at the Electric City Stage the New York City duo began their performance with a few throwbacks, before delving into a selection of more recent original material, all of course with some unreleased teasers carefully peppered throughout.

It was then that the rising heavyweight of psychedelic bass, Space Jesus, boasting an enthralling visual spectacle of accompaniment, took the Above The Waves Stage. With an unmatched perspective of what psychedelic crunk can truly be, Jasha Tull (Space Jesus) took his swarm of beholders under a grip of mesmerization. Flinging out basstronaut heaters with relentless fervor, the hip hop and bass chemist showed Camp Bisco exactly why he is one of the truest authorities of his genre. And as if one set was not enough, those who braved the latest hours of night may have caught the exclusive Space Jesus back-to-back Digital Ethos set rocking out at the Good Looks Collective renegade stage.

P1480473GRiZ was Thursday evening’s headliner, coming out on the Electric City Stage to an already electrified audience. The Detroit-born saxophonist turned producer- and founder of All Good Records- wasted no time getting into the madness with ceaseless waves of glorious grit intertwined amongst funk follies. All the meanwhile, GRiZ was still sure to demonstrate his grasp on the brass is anything but rusty, delivering plenty of soulful solos through live improvisation.

Fellow All Good Records contributor, Russ Liquid, was next to follow at The Office Stage. Though small in stature, the stage was stacked with more than enough sound to wrap up any amount of onlookers. It was not just Russ Liquid, alone, who took the stage on this particular eve, but instead the project’s live band incarnation: The Russ Liquid Test. With the stage ablaze of thumping bass, ominous fog, and fans of iridescent lasers, Russ Liquid set the late-night tone with proper elegance, shaking out original selections of acid jazz, truly experimental glitch, and dreamy downtempo.

Day Two

The grooves were no slower to start Friday, with Beats Antique adorning the Electric City Stage and bumping out their signature fusion of world and bass music. Bringing together the best aspects of both live and DJ acts, infused with a flavorful pinch of live dance performance from Zoe Jakes, the Bay Area trio was a more than proficient kick to get the afternoon started and patrons to shake out any rust from the previous day.

Winding through the various vendors, and passed the waterpark, it was back to the Above The Waves Stage to hear what Chicago producer Manic Focus was kicking out. A long-time veteran of Camp Bisco, that enthusiasm and awareness could be heard within each and every moment of John McCarten’s (Manic Focus) performance. It was no time before the Chi-Town electro soul hero was spilling an array of original jazz and funk productions on to the mobbing crowd.

P1480800 The crowd made a mad shuffle back to the other side of the venue and the Electric City Stage. There the shuffling did not stop as east coast jamtronica standouts Lotus sunk straight into a frolic of crunchy funk paralleled against stifling synths and erosive bass-lines.

The funk was not to stop there though, as the sunset was carried in by Denver-based producer Maddy O’Neal and the Australian glitch-hop heavyweight, Opiuo, coming in full force with his live band assembly. Opiuo spectators were greeted by an even more pleasant surprise, as the trumpeter Russ Liquid returned to stage to complete the harmony of the performance.

The bass was far from lacking at Camp Bisco, though- make no mistake. As darkness P1490026cascaded over the mountain Saturday night, it brought with it the deep rumble of earth-shaking sound. Back-to-back performances from the rising west coast superstar, G Jones, and current undisputed heavyweight, Bassnectar, did nothing less than leave the masses of Camp Bisco in a near comatose state after throttling ears with constant ripples of destructive bass waves. With numerous collaborations between these two artists, and a continuously growing relationship- even within the public eye- the calculated scheduling of G Jones and Bassnectar into one another was definitively a nod from the Camp Bisco team, not just to the fans, but the artists themselves.

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This was far from the end of the evening’s charades as Simon Posford, one of the original founding minds behind the Shpongle project, took the stage in a whirl of world trance grandeur. With a live instrumentation and improvisation being a primary aspect of the vehicle driving Shpongle’s sound (the project’s live and studio incarnations have included more than 15 members at times), the pinnacle of the late-night performance indisputably came when Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (both of The Disco Biscuits) joined Posford on stage, bringing their own stylistic approach and perspective to a select few Shpongle productions.

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Breaking Biscuits- a collision of members of Break Science and The Disco Biscuits – closed out the night for patrons willing and able to make their way back across the venue to its intimate, yet still production-lush VIP stage.

Day Three

P1490541Starting Saturday morning, it was clear that many were feeling the strain of two already vociferous days of music. The hangover cure for most, however, was a light-hearted but still bass-kicking set from Action Bronson on the main stage. Bringing a little bit of flat out hip hop swagger to the stage, the former chef turned rapper brought some much-needed unique energy to the stage- and a whole lot of it.

Patrons were able to beat the heat throughout the remainder of the afternoon with glossy, timid sets from the likes of Cloudchord, The Knocks, EPROM, Melvv, and numerous others. It was not long, though, before the funk came calling once again as the Denver duo, known to most as The Floozies, took the Electric City Stage. Churning out a cocktail of funk and glitch, all wrapped in a fine-coating of bass, the Hill brothers served up plenty of snappy grooves for their listeners.

Another hugely anticipated set for many patrons was that of the new-school bass up-and-comers Ganja White Night. Hailing from Belgium, the live electronic duo has been rampaging its way across the U.S. and back. Still, with such a packed schedule of gigging, Ganja White Night was able to keep their performance fresh and full of surprises, even for their most veteran of fans.

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The evening and festival’s main stage was closed (not including the final of six total sets from the festival’s hometown heroes and curators, The Disco Biscuits, which followed) by yet another artist who is no foreigner to the festival: Pretty Lights. For the first time ever at a Camp Bisco, though, Derek Vincent Smith (Pretty Lights) was joined by his full live band. Cascading waves of soulful electronic and hip hop blends betwixt exhilarating laser rays- giving true meaning to the name “Pretty Lights”- met the audience head on. Packed with energy, while still able to find steady footing in some more buoyant grooves, the Future Analog Band could not have waved Camp Bisco and all of its patrons a more appropriate goodbye.

Among the Saturday late-night acts to follow were Ganja White Night and The Floozies at the VIP stage, as well as Eprom digging in at the Good Looks Collective renegade stage. Each brought the proper amount of grit- while also all teeming with unreleased gems- to shake out any possible still existing inklings of energy in patron’s bones.

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We will see you on the mountain next year!

[Article by Kyle Taylor of Funkadelphia | Images by Rivkin Photos]

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