Here’s the second installment of the Biscodyssey (my fondness for combining words in awkward ways knows no bounds, apparently). Aaand here is the ubiquitous Skrillex for accompaniment, “Bangarang” – because he is repping Canada hard these days, and happened to be playing the next night:
Late that afternoon, Mink, Alex and I packed up the car with our camp gear, alcohol, and lots of candy to make the three-hour trip from Ithaca to Mariaville. We decided to drive there the day before the actual festival to ensure a decent spot in the campgrounds. Alex’s friend, Steph, was following in her car, since she would have to leave a day early to go to a conference. (Deciding what to pack for a few days of living in a dirty campsite with questionable showers and then a professional conference was quite the predicament, Steph concluded.)
We arrived around 9 p.m., picked up some ice at a sketchy convenience store in Mariaville, and joined the long queue of excited American hipsters and raver kids who were inching along the highway to Camp. Everyone’s cars were being searched diligently by security, which was the reason for the long wait. One group had a jar of dill pickles confiscated because there was no glass allowed onto the grounds. They passed out pickles to people in surrounding cars, contentedly munching in unison as security finished searching their truck.
When we did pull in to the giant grass field to set up our tent (the luxurious 8-person model, which was quite spacious for four), the air was abuzz with drunken, comradely shouts and various electrobeats. A huge Ferris Wheel blinked fluorescently in the distance. Rows upon rows of cars parked beside tents spread out ahead us, and more cars quickly pulled in beside and behind our spot.
Many of the kids there looked surprisingly young, and we learned that anyone 16 or older is allowed entrance. Some of them definitely looked younger – like, maybe 13? – maybe that’s just me being curmudgeonly and old, or it’s puberty not setting in until kids’ late teens these days. Regardless, everyone was wandering around, saying hello, noticeably cleaner than they would be for the next four days.
We had finally arrived.
This day was incredibly hot and looong. We realized that the sun would be our chief enemy on the trip around 7 a.m. that morning. It blazed down onto the tent without mercy, and we had had about four hours of sleep because we were so stoked to be there (and had anticipated a lazy sleep-in as well. The sun ensured that we were dead wrong on that one). The festival wouldn’t even start until that evening, so there was nothing to do but eat peanut butter sandwiches, sprawl in the ever-shrinking shadow provided by the car, and slather on sunscreen every hour or so.
Alex didn’t go to sleep at all, choosing instead to meet new friends and walk to the convenience store for beer with one of them at dawn. I stumbled out of the tent in a heat-induced haze in time to see him cheerily waving with a glorious pack of 30 beers under his arm. This beer would prove to be the only thing that got us through the 40-degree heat.
Strangely exhausted from doing so little all day, we headed down to the main stages that evening. The first concert we saw was Crystal Castles, another Canadian group.
I have wanted to see them for so many years, and was surprisingly underwhelmed by the performance. We didn’t venture into the pit of crazy moshers, it being the first of many concerts that weekend. I felt rather detached from the action as a result. (The heatstroke may have been a factor.) Also, their vocals were terrible, so Alice Glass was seen but mostly not heard from afar. While I can finally add them to the list of concerts I have seen, they were definitely not the top performance of the weekend.
We pushed into the crowd at the second main stage to get pumped for Skrillex – who was, as anticipated, easily one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. While I was initially skeptical of his music and skyrocketing fame, I apologize for any derogatory thing I have ever said or heard about Skrillex (minus the Squirrelex jokes, because those are hilarious). He was gracious and energized and so pumped to be there, which makes a huge difference for those in the audience.
His set was phenomenal, but words don’t really do it justice. All I can say is that there was fire – lots of explody-looking fire that made everyone go “OoooHHHHHHhhhh!”. Here’s a video of the madness, which also doesn’t do his set justice, but which I will provide for some context:
So that happened. And then, sufficiently awed, we went back to our camp to relive the magic, as one does. Except now, we were going to sleep with the knowledge that at 7 a.m. we would be roasted alive in our tent again, and that was pretty sad. Regardless, Skrillex was worth it!
I should also note that one of our neighbours at camp looked just like Skrillex, if Skrillex was a 17-year-old girl – which is not too far off the mark. I mean, look at this guy:
Up next: Emancipator, Amon Tobin ISAM, Mim0sa, and other camp shenanigans!