The seventeenth installment of Camp Bisco was fueled by jamtronica and bass music. It was the festival’s fourth year at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA and most patrons have grown accustomed to the new venue. A heatwave rolled into the northeast on Friday that made a lot of the afternoon sets hard to thoroughly enjoy. With scorching temperatures and high humidity, the heat index reached 105 degrees on Saturday afternoon. The Disco Biscuits fought through the heat and delivered six sets (seven including the VIP BBQ) over the course of the three-day event. Although the festival has shifted more and more towards EDM, the main focus has always been, and will always be, The Disco Biscuits.
When the Disco Biscuits first created Camp Bisco, it was an intimate grassroots festival that featured the band and their friends. They also included a few up and coming bands, like STS9, who were also combining the jam band approach with electronic music. By 2008, the festival had grown into one of the best mid-sized festivals in the country. The Biscuits cultivated lineups that were filled with artists that they themselves were fans of. From DJ Shadow and Shpongle to Snoop Dogg and Nas, The Biscuits also booked amazing acts that their fans enjoyed. The lineups continued to include bands that were pushing the genre of jamtronica including The New Deal, Lotus, and Brothers Past. The Disco Biscuits and their team had great foresight—they were also booking acts like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and Flying Lotus years before they blew up. When it came to the next wave of electronic music and jam bands, Camp Bisco was the place to be for eclectic music lovers that loved to party.
The festival started to change in 2010 as the dubstep craze exploded in the U.S., with Camp Bisco’s attendance more than doubled in size. By 2013, the festival had become bigger than the band that created it. The Disco Biscuits were forced to leave Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY to find a new home for Camp Bisco. After partnering with Live Nation in 2015, the band moved to Montage Mountain and never looked back.
The Disco Biscuits kicked off the weekend with a solid showing on Thursday night. They opened up with fan favorites, “7-11” and “Cyclone”. Both songs got the crowd moving as the band and their fans wasted no time jumping into the weekend. The highlights were the jams in and out of “Safety Dance”, a cover that has been in their rotation for years. From there the band jammed into “Miracles”, one of bassist Marc Brownstein’s newer songs. It didn’t take long for guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig to get heated up. His green Fender Custom Stratocaster, appropriately named “Moneybag”, has been his go-to for most of the shows this year.
The Disco Biscuits – 7/18/2019 – Set 1
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
The sun pounded the concrete of Montage Mountain on Friday afternoon. Everyone knew that the impending heatwave could potentially have an effect on the band. The Biscuits started their first set on Friday with “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line”. The song is a quintessential representation of the Disco Biscuits. It’s off their classic album, The Wind at Four to Fly, and has been a reliable launch pad for well over a decade. Right off the bat the band was locked and loaded. Keyboardist Aron Magner used some excellent patches on his synthesizers as Allen Aucoin and Brownstein established a strong foundation. Barber’s riffs weaved in and out of Brownie’s basslines as the band jammed into “Boomshanker”. One of the Disco Biscuits most notable 2.0 segments is the “Shimmy Shanker” from 9/24/09, so the die-hard fans that noticed what was happening were ecstatic. The song was originally written for Brownstein and Magner’s side project, Conspirator, but it fits into the Biscuits repertoire very well. After dropping the tempo down into a thick half-time jam, Brownie dug deep and brought the sludge out.
Next came “Pygmy Twylyte”, the Frank Zappa original that The Disco Biscuits have made their own. They jammed it into “Munchkin Invasion”, which also ended up being one of the highlights of the weekend. From there the band slid into “Tempest” and then back into the ending of “Munchkin Invasion”. It was during this segment that drummer Allen Aucoin suffered from a mini heat stroke which triggered an asthma attack. It was vicious and scary. His drum tech draped an ice-cold rag around his neck as he powered through it the best he could.
The Disco Biscuits – 7/19/2019 – Set 1
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
The second set on Friday featured a reworked version of “Konkrete”, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, and a massive “Ladies” sandwich with Shpongle’s “Gamma Goblins” in the center. A lot of fans gave praise to the reworked version of “Konkrete”, saying that they enjoyed it more than the original. Barber definitely cranked things up a notch with powerful rock n’ roll shredding. The obvious highlight of the set was “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night” > “Gamma Goblins” > “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night”. It was a stellar example of exploratory improvisation that was both thematic and experimental. The band then dropped into a psychedelic dub jam out of “Gamma Goblin”s that set the tone for the rest of the set. Magner layered his synthesizers with Allen’s drums and created some very unique sonic textures. The jam back into “Ladies” was arguably the best section of the set. Johnny R. Goode’s lighting design mixed with the 3D projection mapping behind the band created epic visuals for the crowd.
The Disco Biscuits – 7/19/2019 – Set 2
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
Saturday was the hottest day of the summer and The Biscuits had their annual day set scheduled for 3:30pm. This year’s day set featured a sit-in from an individual that is an enormous part of the band’s history. Dr. Sam Altman, their original drummer, joined the band alongside Allen. Altman and Allen had never played double drums for an entire set, so fans from the early days were happy to see him on stage. The set started off with “Floes”, a song written by Altman many years ago. Next came “Onamae Wae”, another song that Sammy made popular during the 1.0 era of the band. “MEMPHIS” > “Rapture” was the standout segment of the set. The five-piece found a nice groove to sit in as they made their way out of “MEMPHIS”. “Rapture”, one of Blondie’s most popular songs, has now been played by the band a handful of times. The Disco Biscuits capped the set off with one of the most timeless songs in their catalogue, “Magellan”. The band has changed, transitioned, and evolved throughout the years and “Magellan” has remained epic. It’s a brilliant song that evokes emotion of both new and old fans. It was the perfect way end the special set.
The second set on Saturday will go down in The Disco Biscuits history. It was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and they paid homage in a way that was creative and symbolic. It will be forever remembered as “The Moon Set” and those in attendance will never forget it. Opening up with “The Very Moon”, the band sped up and dropped into “The Moon Theme” from Ducktails. It was the second time that they’ve played it, the first being this past New Year’s Eve. Barber and Magner found their respective spots as they slowly but surely transitioned into “Lunar Pursuit”. The entire set featured tasteful lighting design from Johnny R. Goode. Then came the “Very Moon” funk, they dished out a large plate of space funk. It was during this jam that the band really synced up. Playing his signature Gibson hollow body, Barber started to pull out one catchy riff after another.
The back half of the set was the overall highlight of Camp Bisco. The crowd went wild as the band dropped into “Astronaut”. Using low dynamic ambience to their advantage, The Biscuits rolled out the blissco as they jammed out of “Astro” with nothing but confidence. Barber, Magner, and Brownie linked up flawlessly on the transition into “Spacebirdmatingcall”. They exhibited patience and control as they slowly built up into the drop instead of immediately going into the composition. Magner lead the charge as they stretched it out to their advantage. The “Spacebird” jam was absolutely impeccable and will be revisited by many. It got super spaced out and extraterrestrial at times. Every time it felt like they were about to drop back into the composition, Magner took them for another lap. They seamlessly transitioned into the “S.I.T.A”. section of “Astronaut” then Barber brought out the rock n’ roll stylings , as he was ripped his Gibson apart. The energy was through the roof as it slowly ascended into utter madness—they nailed the ending with raw power and the crowd erupted like Mount St. Helens in 1980.
The Disco Biscuits – 7/20/2019 – Set 2
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
It was the final set of Camp Bisco 2019 and The Disco Biscuits were ready to close the door on another successful year. Opening with standalone versions of “Mulberry’s Dream” and “Save The Robots”, they set the pace. “Robots” got dark, dirty, and heavy with a crazy DnB jam that had the crowd swaying in unison. “Spraypaint” came next, and again, Barber and Brownie couldn’t miss. They switched from light to dark and transitioned into Barber’s new song, “The Sample Has No Name”. The song is very haunting and has the potential to become a great jam vehicle for the band.”Catalyst” came next, as the band immediately dove in head first and took risks that paid off. Barber and Magner’s melodies intertwined around the spine of Brownie’s basslines. They could’ve kept going and took this particular jam to the top, but they decided to pull the plug and drop into “Tricycle”. Although it wasn’t the smoothest, they made up for it tenfold with the jam out of it, which had incredible bounce. All four of band were members entangled in the best way, hitting taglines as a singular unit. Using the minimalistic approach to their advantage, they rode the waves of trance-fusion as they broke and rolled over the crowd.
The Disco Biscuits jammed into the ending of “Spraypaint” and ended the set on a strong note. The applause was loud and the band seemed to feel fulfilled. Brownstein pointed to Allen and the crowd stepped it up and got even louder. The man is an absolute beast of a drummer and deserves all the respect that he gets. After stating the fact that they started Camp Bisco in Pennsylvania twenty years ago, the band encored with “Home Again”, a feel-good song that can give fans goosebumps when it’s placed and played correctly. The band, along with their die-hard fan base, rocked out one last time as they turned the page on yet another Camp Bisco. Who knows what the future will bring, but one thing is for sure, The Disco Biscuits and their fan base are connected in a way that is unbreakable.
The Disco Biscuits – 7/20/2019 – Set 3
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
Check out some photos of the festivities below via photographer Adam Straughn.