The Disco Biscuits sure didn’t hold back for the 11th edition of Camp Bisco.
On Friday night, the four-piece played their second of six sets throughout the three-day music festival — held for the fifth year in a row at the Indian Lookout Country Club — before a crowd numbering close to 30,000 by some staff estimates. For many, it was the perfect capper on a long day of swirling techno, thumping dubstep beats, snarling rock and hip-hop grooves. Of course, for many others it was merely the beginning, with plenty of late-night dancing and DJs to follow — including The Disco Biscuits themselves, who played another set at 11:30 p.m.
Taking the stage promptly at 9, the Biscuits wasted no time weaving their complex brand of jamming. Guitarist Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig started things off with a laid-back solo, and from here on it was like watching a space ship rev up and take off. The band did not stop again for an hour and 15 minutes.
Gutwillig kept his vocal portions brief, preferring to let his instrument do the talking — to mostly great effect. His snarling buildup into “Tricycle” was one of the evening’s high points, with the extended solo moving from a spacey-slow jam into a cutting shred-fest with ease. More fine soloing came on “Spacebirdmatingcall” in the back half of the set, with Gutwillig stretching out melodically into a slightly queasy, yet somehow totally appropriate, motif.
Better still was Gutwillig’s interplay with keyboardist Aron Magner, as the two wove dense layers of sound over the pulsating grooves. And speaking of grooves, drummer Allen Aucoin and bassist Marc Brownstein never let up, laying down fat, grimy rhythms for Gutwillig and Magner to dance through.
It’s impossible to see everything at Camp Bisco, as the acts are spread out over five different stages scattered throughout the grounds. The Showcase Stage was the first area that attendees walked by when entering the festival; the two main stages were side-by-side towards the back; and the B.I.G. Tent and Label Tent were farther in still, in another area. The former two tents were packed throughout the day, until the bigger acts started coming on later in the evening, and featured an array of dub step artists, DJs and others (not to mention a reprieve from the sun).
Thanks to the festival’s staggered schedule on the main stages, there weren’t many gaps between artists once things got rolling, with the attention shifting between stages. Each performer generally played for an hour, with sets getting longer in the evening. Stage One kicked things off with the modern rock-tinged Xylos, as the few in the audience so far dodged Frisbees. Songs such as “Dust” created a swirling sonic soundscape much different from the dance-y break beats and bass drops to follow for most of the day.
After a brief pause (the only stop in the music during the day), duo The Knocks took Stage Two, setting the scene for the electronica onslaught to follow. The group distinguished itself with strong vocal presence amidst the sweeping beats and squealing synths. Future Rock, up next on Stage One, took a mostly instrumental approach, with a kind of dub step power trio setup featuring bass, drums and synthesizers.
Eliot Lipp hit Stage Two with a few tricks up his sleeve. The electronica musician brought a full band with him to recreate his loop-heavy new album “Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake,” to some pretty jaw-dropping results on such songs as “Get Money” and especially the ominous “Shark,” which married jazz samples to hip-hop drumbeats and shredding guitars.
Break Science and rapper Chali 2na took things in an even heavier hip-hop direction, with 2na rapping over Break Science’s dub beats and snarling synthesizers. Things began to really heat up at about this time, as the ever-expanding crowd took up every available space to dance with hula-hoops, inflatable animals and a cutout of David Hasselhoff, among other items. Portugal the Moon wrapped up the “openers” over on Stage Two with a varied set heavy on the rock (and Beatles covers).
Unfortunately, the crowd was in for disappointment next, with Big Boi showing up for his set on Stage One nearly 50 minutes late. His short set barely broke half an hour, and in no way made up for his lateness — although he did offer energetic runs on all his OutKast hits, including “Ms. Jackson” and “The Way You Move.”
Instrumental quartet Lotus turned things around quickly with their Stage Two set, perfectly priming the crowd for The Disco Biscuits on Stage One. Their rock-meets-rave jamming seemed to summarize all that had come before quite well, while pointing at the onslaught that was to follow.
Camp Bisco 11 continues throughout today.