Thousands eat their biscuits at Camp Bisco

Review: The Disco Biscuits' 10th annual music festival sold out this year because fans cared enough to make the trip.

Not everyone likes or even respects jam bands. The golden age of acts like the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane are for the most part, gone, replaced by the followings of moe., Phish, or the Disco Biscuits.

The Disco Biscuits' sold-out, 10th festival in Mariaville, NY — 12 miles from Schenectady — drew flocks of hippies and drug-addled electro-nuts by the thousands this past weekend.

On a shuttle from the Schenectady Amtrak station, festivalgoers claimed places of origin from Atlanta to Montreal (and here I thought coming from Long Island was a hassle). They came a long way to party.

Why make the journey? Three reasons:

The best of its kind

As The NewsHouse pointed out in its Camp Bisco X preview, Bisco isn't the only major festival to catch in the area this summer. It was, however, the first avenue to offer a performance from hyped UK artist Shpongle. The Disco Biscuits played a total of six times over three days. Acclaimed reunion act Death From Above 1979 was on the bill, as were Bassnectar, Skrlliex and Pretty Lights. The festival blows others in the Schenectady area out of the water and stands up against other NY summer fests too.

People actually like the Disco Bisuits

So it's hard to fathom at first how an act whose show is literally the same at each turn got so popular, but fans love the Disco Biscuits. From Marc 'Brownie' Brownstein's familiar, joking onstage presence to the same lasers and stage arrangements at every set, the Disco Biscuits don't seem to know how to be as dynamic as Phish. But that doesn't matter.

"Oh, you missed the Disco Biscuits but you'll go see Bassnectar?" Biscuits fans chided as they streamed out of the narrow causeway that fed to the main stage. Bassnectar played a bumping set after the Biscuits' last show and Biscuits fans expressed their frustration by mocking the Bassnectar fans the whole way.

A Biscuit-eating family

Nonetheless, that minor disturbance didn't color the whole weekend. The Disco Biscuits not only curate a festival, they cultivate a family. Far removed from closed-off hipster-populated shows in New York City, members of the Camp Bisco crowd help one another, hula-hoop on their free time and enjoy themselves. Keeping a single-person tent unlocked for a weekend posed no issues for me, nor did a casual hitchhike to Schenectady when my transportation failed.

Bassnectar himself embodied this at the end of his pumping, hit-you-over-head dubstep set. After killing the crowd with some of the best beats and sampling of the weekend, he said "All right, let's take a family photo," imploring the attendees to raise their hands in the air. Then he played one more song.

Day One

The best: It has to be a three-way toss-up between Cut Copy, the New Deal and Skrillex. Whether you dig talented-but-poppy Radiohead wannabes, a jam band on its way out or headbanging dubstep, day one served as a great primer

The worst: Missing most of the smaller acts after getting stuck in the traffic line for four hours. "That's not bad. Last year was worse," repeated as the motto of the weekend. Not cool. Hopefully they fix that next year.

Day Two

The best: Seeing Shpongle before anyone else in the US offered a visual taste of what was likely to come from much of next year's new acts. Also, Ratatat owned the night.

The worst: Getting super-excited for James Murphy's late-night DJ set only to hear mostly unrecognizable, and even undanceable beats. The crowd didn't care and nor did I.

Day Three

The best: Death From Above 1979 played to a crowd that largely didn't know them and probably didn't care nearly as much as they did for acts like the dancier Bassnectar or Neon Indian on that main stage. Nonetheless, DFA79 gave the most dynamic set, considering bassist Jesse Keeler didn't say two words and Sebastien Granger kept making bad jokes about the food stands. They still owned the crowd.

The worst: Pretty Lights attempting to play one last song for the crowd (after the final set of the festival), but getting his sound shut off and being told to leave. There goes the magical weekend. Despite that less-than-stupendous finale, though, Camp Bisco X offered us some of the best fun of the summer. I can't wait for next year.

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