Camp Bisco Review
July 14-16, 2016, Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA
Written by Cait Deane
Photos by Tess Miller
Camp Bisco is a favored music festival that returned for it’s second year at Montage Mountain, a venue that doubles as a waterpark and ski resort. Known for its superior lineup and welcoming energy, this year’s event shattered my expectations of how I had predicted the weekend to unfold.
Admittedly, I was a bit worried about the process of actually getting into the venue. I had heard horror stories from close friends of mine about fourteen hour long waits to get into the festival, and I was not excited to experience a similar situation. (And a rainy entrance to the parking lot did not help ease the anxiety!) However, in an earlier letter to the public from The Disco Biscuits, they promised much swifter entry after hearing concerns from last year’s guests- and they were absolutely true to their word! The new and improved system for helping patrons get into and up the mountain really paid off. They had double the shuttles working and searches that were swift but thorough, leaving me feeling very impressed with the changes they had implemented. They even had DJ sets while you waited in line to help boost morale. A double rainbow stretched over the busses right before we loaded them with our gear, and the rain cleared as we boarded. (More good omens!) Entry was a breeze- we had pulled into offsite parking at approximately eight at night and were setting up our camp inside the venue by nine.
Perhaps you have heard of the treacherous hills that come with the territory of camping on Montage mountain. It’s true- you are camping on a ski slope, after all- but a little extra exercise never hurt anyone and Camp Bisco went out of their way to help make sure that it was a healthy experience for all of their patrons. Not only were there ample water stations, but free bottles of chilled water were available at some of the gates and every medical tent was clearly marked and easily accessible. Not to mention, the venue at Montage Mountain has so many things that make it superior to any other grounds you’ve perused that the hills hardly even seem like a drawback.
The water park is just a ridiculous amount of fun, there’s no denying that. A windy lazy river was a low key water feature to get involved with while still being close to the wave stage. The wave pool was was a party spot constantly packed with tons of friends dancing with beaming smiles to the music from the wave stage. For the more adventurous souls, there were water slides and gigantic whirlpool tube rides that were open to attendees. These activities helped cool down the heat of July and offered an extremely unique festival experience. Also located in the waterpark area of the venue were free showers, which provided ultimate rejuvenation.
Camp Bisco had tons of different options for food, both inside the venue and in the camping area. I really liked how they had the layout of food and vendors- it was spread out along your walk of the grounds instead of being bunched into one area. Vendors and food stands lined your path from the camping area into the venue’s waterpark, and from the waterpark down to mainstage. This made it convenient in such a large area to find food close by at any time, or to take a short break from music and browse the diverse range of goods that vendors had to offer. Alcoholic drinks were available for purchase with a price range from about $5 to $15 depending on what you were looking to order.
The first day of music was stellar. One of my favorite things about Camp Bisco was their balance between live bands and electronic music. Dopapod played a set that was remarkable. Chuck destroyed onstage and the entire set was fluid with great danceability. They performed on the wave stage and the surrounding area was packed- as well as every square inch of shade on the hill in front of them. As the band performed their song French Bowling I overheard someone in the crowd exclaim: “This might be the best Dopapod set I’ve ever seen!!” They closed their set with my personal favorite song Trapper Keeper. Lotus had a set that brought on the sunset and hypnotized the crowd. The light show was incredible and gave me my first taste of how crazy the lighting was going to be at the festival. They played a newer song and reminded the crowd that their new album, “Eat the Lights” was coming out the 15th. The band also played a version of Flower Sermon that I thought surpassed even the recorded version.
Other acts from Thursday night that I really enjoied included Random Rab, who performed uplifting and beautifully organic melodies at The Office stage, and of course Big GRiZmatik, which was a set of music executed by Big Gigantic, GRiZ, and Gramatik. The only issue with the substantial lineup that Camp Bisco offers is that there is so many incredible sets to catch, and not enough time to see them all- but if that really is the biggest problem you face at an event, you’re in a pretty great spot!
Music after day one continued to give the attendee one lively set after another. Friday I made sure to catch G-Nome Project, an act I had seen before in a smaller venue that I was excited to see at the Wave stage. They played an exciting set that melted elements of funk and electronica together, and they evoked tons of enthusiasm from the audience for a 1:15pm set time. From G-Nome I made my way back down to main stage, to catch Orchard Lounge, a three piece group that entranced me with their futuristic (but still rather ambient and tranquilizing) music. It was hard to part with the main stage after this point, as acts like Thundercat and Lettuce continued to fill the air with full, funky sound. ODESZA had another one of the absolute best sets of the weekend. The words that came to mind describing their sound was “musical river”, with electronic beats illuminated by crisp visuals and lasers that enchanted the crowd. Papadosio played at the Wave stage. These guys never disappoint, and they played a very organic set opening with New Love and tossing tons of fan favorites into their performance.
A feature that I had never experienced at a festival before that Camp Bisco utilized was the implementation of their own app. The app had a festival map, lineup, schedule, and news that kept you in the loop the entire time at the event. Any time something like unfavorable weather came up, the app would alert your phone and you could be kept up to date on the happenings of the festival. I know this is sort of a small thing, but I felt like it was just another way that Camp Bisco helped make this year’s event so smooth and really showed that giving the fans the best experience possible was their priority.
Camp Bisco came with the territory of being a huge festival. Was there a lot of walking? Yes. Was their tons of people? Yes. But the magical nature of big festival style entertainment, lights, decorations, and accommodations did more than make up for any small complaint you could possibly have. I’m so grateful for such an enjoyable and memorable time at Camp Bisco 2016- while it was my first time at this event, it certainly won’t be my last!