A (nearly) sober account of the Disco Biscuits’ drug-addled electro music festival.
I gather myself and look around. It appears that a couple dozen mosquitoes decided to room with me during the night. There is blood and smeared mosquito carcass on both my arms. I’ve been on the front line of Bug War, and don’t remember it.
I head out onto the campgrounds. The main concert field is all but destroyed. Hundreds of flip-flops dot the muddy ground like tiny tombstones. They’re aligned in perfect little rows, crosses at the cemetery at Normandy. Closer inspection reveals they’re joined by a couple sets of keys, a point-and-click camera and two cell phones. I pick up the keys, to take them to lost and found later. The camera and phones are long dead.
Before we know it a band, BLVD, is playing to 200 people who look as though they haven’t slept all night.
The campground swells with even more people. Perhaps some of them taking advantage of the $75 last-day pass in lieu of coming to the whole shebang. As such, the drug dealers are out in full force, selling ecstasy, which they call “roll,” like hotdogs at a Phillies game.
“$10 roll. I’ve got $10 roll. $10 roll here,” shouts a young man with no shirt and a backpack, reminding me of something Mike from Long Island said earlier. “At Bisco, the drug dealers come to you.”
Later, after the Biscuits’ set, the price falls to $6.
There’s no denying; campers at Bisco are baked. But not all of them. The people I meet seem to fall into three categories. First, there’s the Hardcore Drug Rager (HDR) who is there to ingest as many drugs as he can over three days, sometimes “candy flipping,” meaning to take different drugs at the same time—a tab of ecstasy while you’re still on LSD, say. It’s the HDR type, I imagine, that wound up in the back of the two ambulances that rush through the campgrounds over the weekend.
Then there’s the Hardcore Electronic Music Geek (HEMG). You can usually spot them pretty easily. They’re not dressed in court jester hats, and aren’t sucking on pacifiers. Instead, they’re wearing a shirt emblazoned with the name of a band you’ve never heard of, and they’re consulting the schedule of performing acts, planning their days, ping-ponging between the three stages to catch every act playing over the weekend and sprouting full-on boners when talking about a remix spun by DJ AC Slater or a new song performed by Lotus.
Lastly, there’s the Average Camper (AC), the guy/gal that dabbles a little in something here or there, catches what acts they can, but doesn’t mind missing a set from someone he or she might be interested in because they wanted to stare at a light for several hours or squish mud between their hands because it “feels sooo good!”
On the flip, I remember Dick the bartender telling me that he saw an HDR fall into the mud on Friday afternoon, like so many other campers. Instead of picking himself up, and carrying on, the HDR started eating the mud by the handful.
“We say this every year, and it sounds like a lie or a cliche. But every Camp Bisco is bigger and better than the year before,” said Magner. “I drove around the campgrounds Saturday on a golf cart like a proud father. I’m so happy with what we’ve been able to build.”
More from Lefsetz, about Bisco and creating your own brand: “At your own festival, you’re the star attraction every year! Your audience can’t get enough of you! You’re creating your own culture!”
That culture, Camp Bisco, is thriving.
On Saturday as the Biscuits wrap up their third set of the day to teems of people, many dressed in glowing neon, all dancing maniacally, it’s easy to see why. ■
Last week, as you may recall, I angered the rabid fans of Disco Biscuits by painting an extremely accurate portrait of them in a cover story I wrote. As someone who’s usually hailed as a genius with very succinct insight, the torrent of angry emails from Biscuit fans has been a bit of an adjustment for me.
The 2014 Philadelphia Spring Guide
PW's Winter Coffee Tour