This year’s edition of Camp Bisco brought beats that paired perfectly with the high heat for a mind-blowing weekend on Montage Mountain.
For most of the year, Scranton, Pennsylvania basks in the glow of fame due to the well-known TV series The Office. But, once a year, thousands flock to the mountains of Scranton for a weekend of jam bands, bass acts and of course, the lazy river at Camp Bisco! This year, the festival returned to Montage Mountain to pair its scenic views with jaw-dropping performances from the likes of Tipper, Bassnectar, Odesza, Liquid Stranger, Minnesota and dozens more.
This year was my first year making the trip out to this fabled festival and I can say it exceeded all of my expectations in the best possible way. There was something so intimate about the size of this festival in comparison to that of others, it brought a sense of intimacy and family-like community that I have not experienced in a long time. Though the festival was much smaller than many other festivals I have attended, there was no shortage of world-class music, art and activities to keep us occupied all weekend long.
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One of the most memorable and notable aspects of Camp Bisco was the focus on community and friendship throughout the entire weekend.
Throughout the weekend we were met with scorching heat and intense humidity. As we trekked up and down the gravel and muddy hills from the rain of weeks prior, security passed out water, people held hands and helped others from falling and we created unforgettable bonds between each other.
I very quickly realized that this weekend was about getting to know and care for your neighbors and I was met with the same kindness and generosity. Never was there a time that I felt alone, even when walking from stage to stage by myself I was always met with a friendly conversation, gifts and an energetic warmth.
Upon arriving early Thursday afternoon, we made it through the short line and security search and were met by the first stage, amusingly named “The Office”.
The Office was surrounded by small boutique shops, food vendors, and security handing out free bottles of waters to keep us hydrated. The staff and workers were friendly and were only focused on making sure we were all happy and well prepared for the long, hot day ahead.
We continued uphill to the Electric City stage, a massive pavilion and lawn stage that would be housing the biggest acts of the weekend. My group and I settled in, under the pavilion in a row of seats for our first act Space Jesus and Friends at 6:15. As soon as he stepped onto the stage, a wild roar erupted from the crowd as hundreds more gathered into the stands to see what Jasha had in store for this year’s crowd. Opening with his tune “Mom’s Spaghetti”, he welcomed the crowd with open arms and I knew that his set and the many others to come would be more than special, they would be legendary.
Due to the lack of set conflicts, traveling from stage to stage proved to be quite a difficult task at times.
Prior to me attending this year’s Camp Bisco, I would groan on and on about set conflicts but this year taught me just how important having to make those decisions would be on the logistics of a festival. I learned this lesson very early on as leaving Space Jesus’s set to head to Mersiv at The Office was one of the most difficult events I encountered all weekend.
Because The Office stage was situated right at the gates of the festival, thousands of people all were headed in every direction and this caused a bottle-neck effect. A name like Mersiv brought in many likeminded individuals and unfortunately for us and many others, the crowd was too dense for us to navigate. Unfortunately, we ended up missing his set and decided to head back to Electric City to camp out for STS9 and Tipper later in the night.
The lawn during STS9 was filled with dozens of flow artists.
Spread across the area was a beautiful community of dancers and talented individuals dawning their hoops, poi, silk fans, whips, gloves and much more. The energy of flowing together to the beautiful music of STS9 was enough to bring me to tears at one point and as the sun set, the lights of our LED toys lit up the grounds like a city.
When the time came closer for Tipper to take the stage, the energy shifted to a mystical cloud of excitement and wonder. As this was my first Tipper show, I knew I was in for a visual treat. My mind was not prepared for the artistry that seeped over the ceiling of the pavilion as his team projected intricate and elaborate visuals above the crowd. As he scratched away at the DJ booth, we were sucked into the mind of Dave Tipper.
When the set was over, I remember looking around the crowd in awe of what we just experienced but not for long as we had to begin the journey to the other side of the festival for Liquid Snails.
Camp Bisco is not one for the wanderer but there were plenty of beautiful vendors and visual artists to look at!
We walked through the forest trails of Camp Bisco and were met with live painters and more vendors before stepping foot into the water park where the Above The Waves stage was situated. A stage surrounded by water slides, a wave pool, a zip line, and the infamous lazy river.
We found ourselves balancing on a dauntingly steep hill as we prepared for the first-ever Liquid Snails set. As the crowd gathered in tightly, we befriended our neighbors, shared our tapestry rug and danced wildly along to the musical mastery that was Liquid Strangers and Snails’ first back to back performance.
By the time the set was over, it was about 2:15 in the morning and we decided to head to the shuttles to get back to our hotel. Though the shuttles were always running and on time, there was a bit of confusion as to which buses went where. We finally were able to make it onto our hotel shuttle bus and in 20 minutes we were back at our hotel safe and sound.
On Friday, we decided to head into the festival a bit earlier to get a good spot for Bassnectar!
As we saved our seats, a part of my group and I headed back to the Above The Waves stage for Yultron’s set. In the heat, we and hundreds of others huddled on the side of the hill, under the tree cover to wait for Yultron’s set to begin. The one thing we learned from this time was that big bags were a necessity for carrying around blankets and tapestries because sitting on hot rocks or muddy patches of grass was less than ideal.
I was able to spend my second day with the Bassnectar Ambassador Team as we ran around spreading love, positivity, and water to all of Bisco!
My day was a bit different than most attendees as I was also chosen to be a Bassnectar Ambassador for the day. This meant that before coming to Camp Bisco, I was tasked with creating a project focusing on community and positivity for attendees. I had to run back to the Electric City stage and meet up with a few other ambassadors and plan out how to execute each of our projects before Bassnectar’s set.
After our meeting, we all headed back to the Above The Waves stage for Minnesota‘s set, the perfect space to hand out all of our homemade gifts. We gave out candy, handmade positive affirmation cards, clips with words of love written on them, charms, stickers, earplugs, and water all afternoon as Minnesota commanded the crowd with envious finesse.
After Minnesota, my group and I secured some seats under the pavilion and hunkered down for The Disco Biscuits and Bassnectar.
As Bassnectar commanded the crowd with bangers such as “Slather,” “Open Up,” and
“Illusion,” I was set on one particular goal, making sure the crowd of bassheads was happy and hydrated. I ran around in my white ambassador shirt with an LED light and water bottle, feeding water to the masses and making so many friends along the way! In the blink of an eye, the set was over and I knew then and there, it had been my favorite Bassnectar experience to date!
When his set was over and we finished handing out cases of water to all those left in the pavilion, my group and I headed back over to catch the Pnuma (Live) set. We settled on the hill, water and pizza in hand and grooved to some acid jazz tunes before heading out for the day.
The third day was the hottest and most intense of the weekend, but we kept cool in the lazy river!
On the morning of the third day, my group and I had one mission and one mission only. Camp out at the Above The Waves stage and enjoy the cool water attractions around us. There was something so picturesque about dancing in the wave pool, clutching a strawberry lemonade and hearing Kursa throw down some deep and weird dubstep. As we bounced between the lazy river and the water slides, we could hear the music clearly, dancing from place to place, only stopping to buy food and fans. We laid out on the side of the hill and dried off during the rest of the set.
Unfortunately, the Above The Waves stage ran into some technical difficulties which disrupted a few sets such as Louis Futon and Walker & Royce.
That didn’t stop the artists from giving it their all, keeping us dancing with tracks until the sound team was able to figure it all out. We decided as the sun was going down that we should move closer to the stage for Kasbo and I’m glad we did. If you were at Bisco the year before, you would know that Liquid Stranger‘s set was cut short due to rain and many were calling this year his “redemption set”. From the looks on the crowd’s faces, he did not disappoint. We huddled in the packed crowd and watched as Liquid Stranger took no mercy, dropping unreleased heat and well-known bass classics!
From there, we and thousands of others raced back over to the Electric City tent for the last headliner, Odesza.
We settled into our seats to see one of the last shows of the A Moment Apart Tour and prepared for the spiritual experience that was about to be had. Opening with the legendary “A Moment Apart”, Odesza enchanted the crowd with the famous drum line and horns that are so widely known around the world. I had tears streaming down my face as we all hugged and danced, screaming lyrics from the top of our lungs. I was absolutely hypnotized by the beauty of their set, I was moved by every song and I knew I never wanted that moment to end.
I also can’t forget about The Panky Rang who ran the Renegade Stage in the RV lots, serving up deep dubstep all night long!
We thought we would be good and drained by the time Odesza finished but we were met with a surge of last-night-energy. We decided to head to the Renegade Stage at the RV’s for the Slug Wife Takeover set. The sun was long gone and the chill of the night had settled on the crowd.
My friends and I all whipped out our pashminas and sweatshirts and huddled on our picnic blanket to vibe out the rest of the night. The security around the sound booth were so attentive and caring, coming around and handing out waters to the many groups of people at the stage.
At around 2 AM, we were met with insane talents from Kursa, Broken Note, Seppa and countless others that help us ride out the night. Around 4:30 AM we decided to hitch a ride on the shuttles back to our hotel. We concluded that it was a perfect way to end a magical weekend.
I did not think that Camp Bisco would leave such an impact on me as it did.
I left the festival feeling filled with joy and gratitude that I was able to spend a weekend in such simple joyous energy. I felt like a kid, splashing around in a wave pool and sharing hugs with everyone I saw. I think it’s very rare to find a community free of judgment or conviction, everyone was there to spread love to one another, and build each other up. Even though the heat and the hike, Camp Bisco stole my heart and I can’t wait to return for another year on the mountain.