Camp Bisco: The Experience (2017)

Camp Bisco was a fun – if slightly damp – weekend. It was my 2nd time at this festival, my first being in 2015, which also happened to be the festival’s first year on their new grounds in Scranton. It was exciting to compare notes and see how much has changed for the better.

Photo from 2015 because I took 0 photos this year whoops

Check-In/Security
We arrived to Bisco around 11pm Wednesday night and were completely set up by 2am. Considering that others who arrived later had to wait as many as 9 (or so I heard) hours in the car to check in, I would say we got super lucky. If you’re heading to Bisco in the future, perhaps the best piece of advice I can offer you is – BUY A PARKING PASS. If you don’t have one you’ll have to park in an off-site lot which can add many many hours to your journey. Don’t get stuck without one. They sell out quickly, so hop on that as soon as tickets go on sale.

Crowd
Bisco has a mix of ravers, cool hippies, and wooks. For the uninitiated, Urban Dictionary defines a wook as:

“A wook is a hippie without any ambition, motivation, or drive other than drugs and image. They’re generally in their twenties, college students (or dropouts) at small-town liberal colleges (such as Appalachian State University) and dependent on an income other than their own. 

Wooks tend to travel in packs, they smell strongly of patchouli and are in constant search for free drugs. One of the defining characteristics is an excessive amount of unkempt hair, usually in dreadlocks. 

It is important to make the distinction between a hippie and a wook. Hippies can generally be viewed as positive, optimistic members of society with an idealistic goal for the betterment of society. Wooks are everything that you’ve been warned about in regard to hippies wrapped into a neat little package.”

Fun Stuff
Bisco has a water park, which is super cool, except for the fact that I didn’t use it. At all. I went on 0 water slides, did not float in the lazy river, and didn’t even put my feet in the wave pool. It rained quite a bit which is part of my excuse – the other part is being too lazy to go back and forth between my campsite and the festival grounds so many times. I really wanted to go on the zip line, but like in 2015, I didn’t make it on that either. SIGH.

Water
Bisco has a few water stations that are poorly marked, and there were definitely fewer water stations than the printed map said there were. This is an area in which they need to do better.

Layout
The layout of this festival is pretty long and narrow, which can create significant bottlenecks at the end of big sets when thousands of people all try to navigate their way to a different stage via narrow pathways. But what I will say is that the indoor lodges with REAL BATHROOMS, and a mostly-covered main stage area more than make up for the inconvenience of the bottlenecks. I should also add that in wintertime these grounds are used as a ski resort, meaning you set your camp up on a hill. So you sleep on a slant. You win some, you lose some.

Transportation
If you don’t have a car I guess you can arrive by a combo of Greyhound and Uber? I’m not sure and I wouldn’t try it. But Bisco is around 2.5 hours from NYC which is excellent (looking at you, Electric Forest,  you 14 hour drive, you).

Price
Pretty standard festival pricing but if you have to rent a car (as my friends and I did), make sure you book that early. The rental car added a good chunk of money to our festival costs.

Misc
I have such mixed feelings about this festival. I had an amazing time both years that I went, but I also feel like I got super lucky both times regarding the time to get set up, getting a camping spot that wasn’t too far up the hill, not getting my belongings stolen (I heard a lot of reports of this), and other factors that really could have brought it down. I might consider getting a hotel if I wanted to go in the future.

ALSO – while I love the amphitheater main stage with concentric half circle rows of seats and a lawn behind it, the significant rain at the festival meant that at some points, tons of people were trying to squeeze in to the seated area because it was covered. At one point, my friend and I were making our way to that stage because it had started to rain. Everyone else had the same idea, and we were maybe 10 feet away from being under shelter when the crowd came to a standstill; the amphitheater was packed and there was no room for anyone else to get in. The rain came down harder and harder, and within a few seconds it felt like someone was dumping a bucket of water on my head. Everyone panicked and started pushing and shoving, trying to get into the amphitheater, and getting caught in that was one of the more terrifying moments of my life. Thankfully my friend and I were near a small alcove that housed a tented beer vendor, and we pushed our way into the alcove away from the crowd, and the bartender let us hide out from the storm and the near-riot under the edge of her tent (and gave us a free beer!). But it sucked, a lot.

Despite the drawbacks, Bisco was far better organized this year than it was 2 years ago. There were orderly lines for things that had previously been chaos, better logistics and more-informed staff (most of the time). Rumors have been floating around that Bisco is not being asked back to this location next year, and if it moves, I’d be skeptical of going to a new venue as it would mean being a guinea pig yet again. But I suppose we’ll see.

This marks the end of my camping festivals for 2017, but I still have some daytime festivals happening (hi Elements!!) because summer isn’t over yet! Onward!

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