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Published: 2002/08/29
by Dan Greenhaus

Camp Bisco, Salansky Farms, Union Dale, PA- 8/23 & 24

Preface: There are always going to be people who go to shows for reasons
OTHER than the music. Getting worked up about that is a fruitless endeavor
so I've chosen, hopefully correctly, to not mention anything about the crowd
or their actions in this review. I apologize to the people who I've spoken
with this past weekend and requested to have specific instances

Very few jambands are pushing the envelope quite like The Disco Biscuits.
On a nightly basis, they regularly take chances and throw caution into the
wind, mainly because that's simply the only way they know how to play. It's
my opinion that in order to be a truly successful jamband, a band has to
have a firm understanding of exactly what they are trying to accomplish when
they go on stage, rather than just using the setting as an excuse to "jam."
What makes the Biscuits so great, is that they do both. They play a ballsy
style of music, further complicated by their penchant for completely
abandoning a song's structure moments after the beginning of the jam
segment, essentially leaving themselves "out there," a place where most
jambands fall flat on their face. Their brand of "trance/fusion/rock" is
certainly not for everyone. If your ears aren't ready for electronic music,
you most likely wont like the band, and you definitely wouldn't have enjoyed
the festival, notably because DJ's spun both Friday and Saturday night until
6:00 in the morning, and weren't even that good. However, for my friends
and I, and countless others, this festival was exactly what we wanted.

The sun was pouring down on the camp on Friday afternoon. I arrived at
Salansky Farms around 3:00ish to find virtually no wait, and a camping area
directly adjacent to the parking lot, which should be the norm at festivals
rather than the exception. I quickly ran into my friend who had been saving
a camping area for me. Of course, it became apparent that meeting up was
irrelevant as the festival would be very small by comparison and running
into, and finding, people was easy. The Ally was on stage as most people
were filtering into the campsite, and their style of music was perfect to
listen to as everyone set up their tents. Camp Bisco was perfect in many
respects, not the least of which was the parking, and being able to camp,
essentially, directly in the line of sight to the stage, was another.
Obviously, you couldn't camp RIGHT in front of the stage, but you get the
point (I hope).

By the time Particle took the stage around 5:00, a fairly
large crowd had amassed to watch. And I'll say this: Particle has taken
a lot of steps forward since I've seen them last. Some of my main critiques
of the band had been addressed, namely Charlie Hitchcock's wild guitar
playing that seemed to almost never been in sync with the rest of the band.
He played with a patience he did not display when the band first got
started. Unfortunately, that patience lasted only fleeting moments at the
beginning of each guitar part, but it was still good to see some semblance
of laying back. The rest of the band as well seems better, however it still
seems as if the band relies way too heavily on laying down a particular
groove and going off with little variance. In my opinion, some songs with
different parts, tempo changes specifically, would benefit the band. As a
whole, they are clearly tighter, and hopefully, as I've always said, they
will continue to improve because the seeds are still there for a very, very
good band.

DJ Logic followed and, as usual, played a quality set of music.
The band has been together for some time now and despite being fronted by
Logic who draws most of the attention, the rest of the band continues to
impress crowds across the country.

Next up was Lake Trout, who played for
an hour and a half. I've always been impressed by this band on disk and
live they always seem to do one better. However, many people in attendance
seemed turned off by how heavy and dark the band can get. I happen to be a
fan of that sort of loud, powerful rock which is why I connect. If you
don't, Lake Trout is definitely not the band for you. However, as good as
their set was, the last ten minutes, featuring only one band member on
stage, featured an uninspiring, relentless barrage of sounds and noise that
succeeded in doing one thing: Forcing everyone to leave the stage area.

A steady rain began to fall shortly before the Disco Biscuits took the
stage, which failed to damper anyone's mood. As the last stop on this
current tour, Camp Bisco was the band's excuse to celebrate everything they
worked to accomplish since the Mishawaka Amp, the site of now "instant
classics." Along the way, the band has played some memorable shows that
will stand out in time, so the expectations going into Camp were
understandably very high. Opening up the first night with Jigsaw Earth
assured everyone there that the band had no intention of letting us down.
However, the first set as a whole was inconsistent. Jigsaw wasn't huge, but
what opener is? And the closer of Kitchen Mitts was curious, to put it
nicely. But along the way, the band gave us a Shem-Ra Boo—>Wet(ending)
which highlighted the first set. Needless to say, it was raining fairly
hard during Wet, which when added to the fact that the song is as rare as
any, really made the moment. The second set, the stronger of the two had
several high points, including a Triumph—->Above the Waves, ATW which had
begun the set. The jam was as dark as any all night and the segue into ATW
was seamless. While the band tends to quickly drop into songs, sometimes
too often, this segue was near perfect and had the crowd screaming in
appreciation. Continuing with the inconsistency of the night, the encore
was weird, but it did feature a band introduction by Barber which provided
some laughs. But the "Spectacle" closer out of "Vassillios" was peculiar,
and I definitely didn't like the song in that spot.

The following day featured some real high points for the festival.
Virtually everyone who was coming had arrived and was in high spirits for
the day ahead. However, it was clear, judging by the attendance for the
first two bands, that few people were interested in getting up before
Brothers Past. Moonraker, on at 12, had a tiny audience, ten people
including myself (at points). I definitely did not dig what the band was
doing, as I felt the female lead singer was incessantly wailing rather than
singing. However the band itself had some brief moments of average. Sorry.

RANA followed, another band I didn't "feel." I must point out that there
were many fans there who were eating up what the band was dishing out,
including a crew of about six guys in the front singing every word. The
band is a straight-ahead rock band, but from my vantage point, the band
seemed to suffer in several areas, most importantly their subscription to
cheesy uninspiring rock riffs and stage antics. As a guitar player myself,
seeing Scott Metzger play behind his head, which is NOT difficult at all,
just about caused me to leave. I was half waiting for him to put one leg up
on his stage monitor during a guitar solo. Complicated basslines were
non-existent, but Ryan Thorton's drumming more than compensated. But, I
must point out that many people were digging the band, including the closer
of "Backstage Pass," so to each their own.

Brother's Past was up next,
which drew quite a crowd. I hadn't seen the band in quite some time and I
was very interested to see how they've evolved. They played for about an
hour and gave the crowd a tremendous jam by way of "Boy," the second to last
song. Perhaps the band should've ended there, but instead chose to play one
more song which wasn't as good, but always wasn't bad. If the band has more
jams in the style of "Boy," I'd be happy to check them out again.

The Motet followed, however their set was cut short by rain which also
slightly delayed the start of Umphrey's set. However everything was fine by
the time Dr. Didg took the stage and stole the weekend. There were very few
people in attendance who had seen Dr. Didg live, evidenced by a tiny crowd
at the beginning of his set. However afterwards, I think you'd be hard
pressed to find anyone who wouldn't see him again. It would be impossible
to explain exactly what the band sounds like, but it revolves around
hypnotic, pulsating danceable rhythms, highlighted by Graham Wiggins,
playing both the didgeridoo and keyboards. In one word: Amazing. Please
check this band out.

The New Deal took the stage shortly after 6:40 and
wowed yet another crowd. After their first musical conglomerate, Disco
Biscuits' guitarist Jon Gutwillig joined the band on stage for a long
awaited collaboration. The next fifteen minutes or so was near-perfect, as
all four members played a completely spontaneous improvisational piece,
based around Dan Kurtz's bassline. Jon laid back and didn't step on
anyone's toes. He played relatively quietly, choosing to fill space rather
than dominate it with soaring guitar lines. Jaime Shields, who usually
dominates the band's sound, played a musical version of "tag" with Jon, as
each toyed around trying to mimic each other's lines. The result was a
layered jam that pleased all in attendance who have wanted to see this

The second night of Camp could possibly go down as one of the best shows
they band has put on to date. Everything seemed to be in high gear and
clicking on all cylinders. The Kamaole Sands—>Spacebird got things off to
a quick start. Spacebird usually doesn't come out until later in first
sets, so having it as the second song really intrigued the crowd as to what
else could possibly be instore. Floodlights went perfectly into 7-11, and
was followed by a stand alone I Remember When. Hope was next, which was
broken up by an inverted Crystal Ball, which has really come into its own on
this tour. Although the inversion wasn't perfect, it still elicited a huge
reaction from the crowd. But as great as the aforementioned jams were, it
was the second set that will put this show in the books.
The Texas Pussy opener was a mere formality. It was quick and to the point
and warmed the band up for THE jam. "Mindless Dribble—>Crickets—>Mindless
Dribble" was huge. It just doesn't happen, but it did. (writers note: For
those of you unfamiliar, imagine a Maze—>Reba—>Maze) Dribble has always
been a springboard for the band to jump off of into the unknown, and this
version reaffirmed the song's stature in the band's repertoire. And that
wasn't even half way through the set! "Save the Robots" was note perfect,
perhaps for the first time ever and swallowed several songs, including
"Sound 1—>Rock Candy", the latter being one of the best grooves in the
bands arsenal, despite being debuted at the beginning of this tour. And
finally, and most notably, during the encore, the band played Frog Legs, one
of my least favorite songs. But the song segued masterfully into "Basis for
a Day", which was played in a style not used since mid-1999. With a long
intro, the band used "Basis" to solidify the song's standing as "the"
Biscuits song. They toyed with the intro for around ten minutes before
busting into the song and officially driving the crowd over the edge into
sheer madness.

On a personal note….........All in all, the weekend was fantastic. The
second set from the Biscuits on the first night and the entire second show
was excellent, with moments of true brilliance. Dr. Didg converted more
than a few fans with his set, which is the goal of playing, and going to, a
festival. With an attendance around 3000 or so, this was one of the
smallest festivals I've attended as of late, which says nothing about the
quality of the music. The people I went with, and the people camping around
me were great. We were right at the top of the hill leading down to the
stage, which enabled us to listen to any music we wanted while sitting in
the comfort of our own chairs, arguably the best tent location I've ever
had. To complete my thought at the beginning, no, not everything was
perfect. But that's life folks. There are always going to be people who do
things you don't agree with and say things you don't like. Letting it
affect your day and your weekend is pointless, especially when there is so
much great music to see. Someone has to watch the band, at least it's me.

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