Deafening bursts of electric bass ripped through the hazy sky of the Indian Lookout Country Club like claps of thunder, as a throng of revelers gyrated.
Clouds of smoke and dust seemed to linger in the hot summer air, but the entranced crowd didn’t seem to mind. Skrillex stood over a turntable elevated on the main stage — illuminated by the intermittent flash of strobe lights and an occasional burst of flames.
“I tell you what,” he shouted between beats. “It’s good to be back, man!”
The crowd roared to his words, only to be drowned out by the next bone-rattling bass that thumped from the speakers. No one seemed to mind though — not this crowd.
Some were clearly addled. Others seemed entranced by the reverb patterns that pulsed overhead, thrusting their hips to the sound that has come to characterize Camp Bisco.
“Look around you,” Skrillex implored his fans. “It’s [expletive] awesome!”
Camp Bisco swung into the sleepy hamlet of Mariaville Thursday, drawing droves of electronica and dubstep fans to the rolling 200-acre venue off Batter Street. Only this year, the three-day festival founded by and featuring the Disco Biscuits didn’t seem to cause nearly the degree of problems it has in prior years.
Armed with a professionally engineered traffic plan, organizers managed to usher in the estimated 12,000 fans with few problems and minimal disturbance to residents living around Mariaville Lake. By many accounts, the bulk of crowd was moved onto the campgrounds during the dead of night Wednesday and into the early morning hours on Thursday, long before the morning commute.
Though some small traffic tangles developed at times, they were nowhere near those that kept vehicles stopped from Indian Lookout to the border of Rotterdam more than seven miles away.
“Look at this,” said Dave Pirrone, the owner of the Mariaville Lakeside Country Store on Batter Street, pointing to the traffic passing by his business. “You couldn’t even move out here last year.”
Deb Mustico was bracing for the worst. She was expecting to hit traffic on her way home late Thursday afternoon, but instead found a quick ride to her home on Duanesburg Churches Road.
“So far I am amazed at how the traffic has been handled so far this year,” she said Thursday.
That didn’t mean the festival started without a hitch. A New Jersey man helping to set up concessions at Indian Lookout was found dead in his tent after apparently overdosing on drugs sometime before the festival grounds opened late Wednesday.
State Police investigators said the body of 29-year-old William P. Graumann was discovered by adjacent campers, who were attempting to wake him that morning. Troopers later discovered numerous Hydrocodone and Xanex pills in Graumann’s tent, along with marijuana.
In a more bizarre incident that happened shortly after the festival opened Thursday, wind ripped through the campsite uprooting several tents and flinging them high into the afternoon sky. A young woman apparently resting inside one of the tents was swept over the roughly 10-foot chain-link fence surrounding the campground and dumped in a grassy area alongside Batter Street.
The girl, who was not identified, was conscious when paramedics arrived from the festival a short-time later. The degree of her injuries was not available.
Inside, the mood was calm and relaxed, despite a baking dry heat that kept temperatures in the low 90s throughout the afternoon. Not surprisingly, the attire for Bisco followed suit. Bare chests and bikinis dominated a scene where discretion was clearly not an objective. The more eccentric the attire, the better.
In a sense, this is part of the allure of Bisco. It’s a clearinghouse for the bizarre and eccentric, whether it music or attire.
“Everywhere you look, there’s something different,” said Nicole Foote of Cambridge, Mass., who was attending the festival for her first time.
Sussanah Kent of Westchester was also sold on the scene. She and Bisco veteran Riley Snow danced front row in one of the festival’s sweltering tents as artist Alvin Risk spun the beats.
“I’m coming every year until I’m 30,” the girl in her early 20s proclaimed proudly over the thumping base. “And then I’ll decide if I want to go for more.”
Nearby in a field, Toni Zurliene of Saratoga Springs hurriedly primped her hair along with about a half-dozen other dancers. In a few moments, they would be performing on stage with Star Eyes, another DJ throwing down beats underneath one of Bisco’s two sprawling tents.
The performance was hurried, but still gave her a chance to be with friends she made at other festivals. Like her fellow performers, it’s a highlight of her summer.
“It gives us a chance to do something we love, but we also get to see each other,” she said.
Jen Dobrydnia agreed. The Philadelphia native was attending her fifth Camp Bisco, some as a performer and some as a fan.
“This is my passion,” she said.