Camp Bisco, Part IV: The Finale

This is my 100th post for from.near.to.far! I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who reads my ramblings from time to time.

Here is Simian Mobile Disco’s amazing “Seraphim,” from their new album Unpatterns, for some accompaniment:


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This video is fascinating, and SMD themselves have this to say about the inspiration for the concept:

Since people are asking – It’s a series of scenes of people going over their obsessive-compulsive type behaviours… as to how that refers to our music, on our new album we’ve been inspired by ideas of repeated loops and patterns breaking down and decaying over time. And the process of making electronic music lends itself to obsessive-compulsive tendencies..

Very cool. (And kind of creepy, actually, but worth the watch.)

Saturday

Our last day at Camp was one of wandering around the campsite, bewildered and in search of ice, which had run out the night before at most of the merchant shops. We stopped in at the Big Tent to catch a random DJ set, not for the music itself but just to get away from the sun for an hour. This was a day of scavenging through our mud-spattered tent for things left to eat – unsettingly hot apples, smushed bread, litres of water to replenish our exhausted bodies. It was a day of forking out our last few dollars for two cold beers to split between the three of us in the high heat of the afternoon, since the ATMs had long ago run out of cash.

Those beers were totally worth it, because we felt like this guy:

The rain from the night before had somewhat calmed the angry, swirling dust on the trails, but the sun rose with its customary fierceness. We were dirty and tired and wearing the same clothes again. We hadn’t eaten a vegetable in days, since the bag of carrots we had dragged along with us had mysteriously already turned black (in three days!) in the sweltering greenhouse that was our tent. (In our defence, though, there wasn’t enough room in the cooler for carrots and beer. Choices must be made.)

However, the lack of nutrients, sheer physical exhaustion and perpetual hangover of the past few days once again dissipated with the coming of the night, and the promise of auditory awesomeness.

Bassnectar

I did not take this photo, but it is magnificent.

This was the show I came to Camp Bisco to see – and, judging by the 10,000 other people in the audience swaying together with excitement, this was the reigning opinion. (The exceptions were those diehard Disco Biscuit lovers, who kept complaining that the people who came to Bisco for anything but the Biscuits were douchebags for totally missing the point. Yeah, that got old.)

When I saw Bassnectar last year in Vienna, he played in an intimate venue to fewer than one hundred people, and then handed out free EPs and happily took pictures with us afterward. This is the show to which I attribute my partial hearing loss, with no hard feelings. Saturday night at Camp promised to be a completely different experience, as Bassnectar set up his tables in front of a massive screen while thousands of fans screamed appreciatively.

Barring the few times where his equipment cut out due to information overload, which was out of his control anyway, Bassnectar played a flawless set – and it seemed to last forever. There were new tracks from Vava Voom interspersed with parts of older stuff, and mixed in there were his own spontaneous remixes and transitions. The crowd ate it up, and the energy was phenomenal – it was one giant, flashing, throbbing dance party in the middle of nowhere.

I offer my eternal thanks to the guy who was standing beside us and flapping his beach umbrella over the crowd, which pushed some very necessary cool air downwards from time to time. I was less impressed with the oblivious guy in front of me, who decided to go shirtless and was extremely sweaty. (I’m talking, like, seal-that-just-got-out-of-the-water sweaty. His skin was slick.) His dance moves would have been more amusing if I wasn’t in danger of getting an elbow to the face every thirty seconds.

After the show came to its resounding conclusion about two hours later, we headed back to our tent for some de-claustrophobia time and to cool down a bit.

A-Trak

This was yet another Canadian-grown set that was well worth waiting up for, since A-Trak hails from Montreal. Mink and I saw A-Trak in Toronto recently, and he killed his set at The Hoxton. The same went for his Bisco set at the Big Tent, which we caught at about 1 a.m. He is unparalleled in his ability to scratch records, at least from what I have seen in my limited experience.

At Bisco

We may have been exhausted after four days of music and hijinks, but it was impossible not to dance to this set. His timing for transitions is always unexpected, which tends to keep me a little on edge, but in a good way. I also like that he jumps onto his table to sing along with the crowd, which never fails to amp them up to a fever pitch.

Simian Mobile Disco

We stayed in the Big Tent for the final performance of the weekend from Simian Mobile Disco, the English electric duo who were both dressed all in black and were cool as cucumbers throughout their set. The exodus out of the tent after A-Trak allowed us to push up to the fence at the front, so we were standing about ten feet away from the stage. They make quite the pair:

This was another surprisingly awesome set, and I am happy we stuck it out to see SMD. Their new album, Unpatterns, is a cohesive bundle of sound and very easy to listen to – and, conveniently, you can stream the entire album on their site. Do it.

The set was quite different from the album itself, of course, but something in the predictability of the beats they were dropping just felt right in my bones. I danced my tired self until I could dance no more. And then, around 4 a.m., we finally went to bed.

Last-minute Addition: Rich Aucoin!

I realize now that I left out the part about seeing the ever-charming, inimitable Rich Aucoin on Thursday afternoon! He is yet another Canadian artist (based in Halifax), and we are proud to call him one of our own. As when Mink and I saw him at the Canadian Music Festival, he put on a genuine, enthusiastic, adrenaline-infused performance. There were some technical problems with his video equipment, but he was unstoppable (and thanks to a modest projector, we still got to see the video). The parachute made an appearance, to the fifty or so surprised kids who made the show. Thanks, Rich!

Sunday

As everyone who has ever been camping is well aware, packing up your campsite is the worst. It was exponentially more terrible the morning after Bisco, because of the sheer number of hungover people involved. There was garbage everywhere. The outhouses were rank and overflowing. We had to dismantle our tent after about four hours of sleep, and shove it into a bag that seemed to be the size of an envelope. And then, there was the long line of cars waiting to pull out of the campsite and make the trip home.

The exhaustion, the hangovers, the heatstroke, the filth, the annoying raver kids – these elements of the experience will inevitably fade with time, leaving only my memories of the incredible music, the endless dancing, the unforgettable experience with three awesome friends.

Thank you, Camp Bisco. Until next time.

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