1999

Woodstock '99 - The Day the 90's Died

Woodstock '99's lineup poster, some of the performers such as Foo Fighters never showed up (they wanted to finish mastering their new album at the time, not because they could see the upcoming doom that was Woodstock '99

Woodstock '99's lineup poster, some of the performers such as Foo Fighters never showed up (they wanted to finish mastering their new album at the time, not because they could see the upcoming doom that was Woodstock '99

Can music festival producers tell the future? Of course not. Can organizers make educated guesses and estimations on how their event will work out? Of course. but, in the case of Woodstock ’99 it doesn’t even seem like anyone took caution with anything they did. From the lineup to the location, everything was flawed and once things started to spiral out of control no one knew how to get things organized again. Woodstock ’99 fell into a hellish landscape laden with crime and destruction. Let’s start at the beginning. 

The festival took place in late July, and the summer weather was coming down hard on the 200,000+ people (some reported that close to half of million people were in attendance, but that figure is unreliable because sales of passes were capped at 200,000. What isn’t uncertain is that there were far more than 250,000 people in the crowd from people sneaking in and using fake passes to gain entrance) that were attending, and working at the festival [Kreps, p.1]. During it’s run, Woodstock ’99 was actually the 3rd most populated city in the state [Kreps, p.1]. 

It’s probably common sense, but what do you think that many people would need during the three extremely hot days? Water. Here is another question - what do you think the festival organizers forgot to tell the large amount of people that were buying tickets? To bring water [Kreps, p.1]. Although, what the organizers thought was a good idea was to tell pass buyers not to bring food and drink to avoid “spoiling” [Schuftan, p.354]. Some believe that the festival developers did that on purpose so that they could squeeze every cent out of their attendees, but, when people saw that bottles of water were a staggering $4, and that there were only a few free water fountains that had lines longer than some Disney World rides people began to, to put it lightly, get frustrated [Kreps, p.1]. Ironically, the water fountains were destroyed by the very people who needed it out of sheer frustration and anger towards the festival organizers [Kreps, p.1]. Between the water situation and the fact that people had to walk across a mile and half of boiling hot tarmac, over 700 people throughout the weekend were treated for heat exhaustion [Schuftan, p.355]. The festival was also extremely filthy. Port-o-potties and showers were all located in one place, rather than strategically dispersed. Not only that, but they were located on the edge of a hill above the main camping area. When floods amassed from the over abundance of human waste and dirty water it all flowed down, right towards the campers. Human waste was literally getting into people’s tents [Schuftan, p.356]. 

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  The overcrowded audience of Woodstock ’99

The overcrowded audience of Woodstock ’99

Woodstock ’99 is a perfect example of overcrowding as well. It’s one of the leading examples of why music festivals make their attendees wear their passes in the form of bracelets now so that it is harder gain access with a fake pass [Kreps, p.1]. A pass to Woodstock ’99 was $157 dollars, a very high price for festivals of the time [Kreps, p.1]. The organizers thought they could get away with it because of the content being so “top-notch”, as well as having MTV covering the entire event [Kreps, p.1]. They were wrong. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, "Security guards said they were confiscating fake passes at the rate of 50 an hour at just one gate." [Kreps, p.1]. The overcrowding also served as a problem when festival workers were attempting to get through the crowds, and when attendees were trying to get in and out of the crowds. Many people said they would get lost in the “sea of people” [Kreps, p.1]. Someone in a truck accidentally drove through the crowd attending Fat Boy Slim [Kreps, p.1]. Fat Boy Slim had to stop his set to let the crowd know that a truck was coming though [Kreps, p.1]. When he started the set again he humorously played the Carl Douglas’ 1975 Disco hit “Kung-Fu Fighting” to comment on how it was a literal fight to get through the crowd [Kreps, p.1]. Horde mentality kicked in several times during the festival. Racism, xenophobia, frustration, and anger ran rampant and became contagious. Everyday fights were breaking out in the crowd and several people were hospitalized over the course of the weekend [Kreps, p.1]. 

It wasn’t just the attendees that made the festival difficult, it was also the artists that fed the fire of destruction. The hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse made their mark when they stirred up some mayhem by throwing $100 bills into the crowd [Kreps, p.1]. People were literally fighting to pick up the money, and, while still in the crowd, people who were catching the bills were being threatened, and getting robbed [Kreps, p.1]. To stage a protest against the hydration problem, Pseudo Country-Rock Musician Kid Rock had his audience throw their water bottles towards the stage, but, people ended up throwing rocks and any other objects that they could get their hands on [Kreps, p.1]. The eponymous singer from Dave Matthews Band made a comment during his set about the amount of nudity he was seeing in his audience, only making more people want to take their clothes off [Kreps, p.1]. When it was Wyclef Jean’s turn to take the stage he wanted to show off his newly learned skills on the guitar, but, maybe his skills were just a little too new. He wanted to pay homage to Jimi Hendrix, but ended up butchering Jimi’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, causing the crowd to be angered by his lack of aptitude [Kreps, p.1]. He attempted the cover at the end of his 34-minute set, cut short because of the overwhelming amounts of booing he was receiving [Kreps, p.1]. He even set his guitar on fire on stage to recreate the famous moment when Hendrix did the same action at the first Woodstock. That only fanned the flames of rage in the crowd.

Now we can move onto the really bad matters that occurred at Woodstock ’99. Yes, it sounds impossible, but, all that before doesn’t even shine a light to what you are about to read. Law enforcement was vastly outnumbered by the crowds of Woodstock ’99 [Kreps, p.1]. Yes, that is generally the case at music festivals. There is no way a Police Department can send out anywhere near the number of the audience, but generally a police presence keeps the crime down. Not in this case. The local and state police were receiving support from volunteer security and fire departments from New York City, and unceremoniously, a great deal of the volunteer law enforcement walked away from their positions and abandoned their responsibilities, leaving the police without any support for the vast amount of crimes that were occurring over the course of the weekend [Kreps, p.1]. 

"At one point I saw this girl, a very petite girl, maybe 100 pounds, who was body-surfing above the crowd and either fell in or was pulled into a circle in the mosh pit," volunteer David Schneider told MTV. "These gentlemen,” using the term loosely, “probably in the 25–32 age range, looked as though they were holding her down. They were holding her arms; you could see she was struggling." [Jacobs, p.1] This is Mr. Schneider recalling his witnessing of a 24-year-old woman being gang raped in the middle of the crowd during Limp Bizkit’s set. The sadder side of this story is that she was not the only one to come forward to report sexual assault [Jacobs, p.1]. Limp Bizkit, while being an incredibly talented band had the knack for exciting their crowds, especially during their performance of their popular single “Break Stuff”. What Fred Durst, lead singer of Limp Bizkit, claims he was unaware of was why the crowd was so amped. People were crowd surfing on pieces of plywood ripped from the stage. Durst wanted to join the crowd in the part and joined the wood paneling surfers on their steeds. Durst claims he had no idea his actions were inciting a riot, that is until the police escorted them from the stage after their set was completed. Violence was next to normal at a lot of their shows, but rape was not. The police report for her rape read: "Due to the congestion of the crowd, she felt that if she yelled for help or fought, she feared she was going to be beaten." [Jacobs, p.1] While anger, and insanity ran rampant over the crowds, fear similarly existed. Many came forward to report sexual assault, but of the forty-four people arrested at Woodstock ’99, only one was charged with sexual assault [Jacobs, p.1]. 

This leads to the last, and most destructive day of the festival. The day Woodstock ’99 literally became hell on earth, and this is not a comment on the constant heat that plagued the festival. A fire storm broke out during the Red Hot Chili Peppers festival closing set [Jacobs, p.1]. The fires spawned from candles that were handed out into the crowd during RHCP’s song “Under the Bridge”. People were ready to cause some havoc, and when the band started playing Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “Fire” it turned into a catalyst for audience members to start literally setting fires [Jacobs, p.1]. It’s really too bad that Jimi Hendrix’s legacy was causing so much destruction over the weekend. But, after the amount of sheer unhappiness, “Fire” was the flint that ignited the crowd” as Rolling Stone puts it [Kreps, p.1]. Bonfires were started in the crowd, built from anything the starters could find. Clothes, woods, grass, anything. Cars were flipped over and set on fire [Jacobs, p.1]. Vendors booths, camp sites, and merchandise tents were destroyed and used as fuel for the flames [Jacobs, p.1]. Riots broke out. People were everywhere. People starting looting anything they could get their hands on. A lot of people, for very good reasons were scared and began to run and scream out of pure terror, only fanning the flames further. Hours later the police were finally able to to diffuse the problems, but at the end of the whole debacle it seemed as though a war had broken out [Jacobs, p.1]. 

People Dancing Around a Bonfire at the Red Hot Chili Peppers Festival Closing Set

People Dancing Around a Bonfire at the Red Hot Chili Peppers Festival Closing Set

A week after the festival SonicNet Music News took a reader poll about the event. When asked “Despite its ending in a fiery riot, do you think Woodstock '99 was a success?” 24% said Yes, and 76% said No. Although, from the percentages from the question “Do you wish you were attending Woodstock ’99?” 46% said Yes, and 54% said no [SonicNet Music News, p.1]. It’s surprising to say that the 1999 edition didn’t eternally tarnish the good name of Woodstock. Although, Woodstock has since never done another festival. In 2009 it took the shape of an American Tour calling itself the “Heroes of Woodstock Tour” [Heroes of Woodstock, p.1]. The tour presented several artists from previous editions of the festival such as Melanie, Edgar Wright, and the Levon Helms Band. Not surprisingly though, the tour included no one from the 1999 festival [Heroes of Woodstock, p.1]. Woodstock ’99 was crippled by crime, fires, riots, rape, and greed. The tale of Sodom and Gomorrah was repainted in Rome, New York that weekend in July. Woodstock ’99 left its mark with those terrible qualities, but, there is a lot of lessons that were learned from the disastrous festival. 

Examples of festival wristbands

Examples of festival wristbands

Safety quickly became top priority at festivals post Woodstock ’99. Tracking the audience and making sure there was enough security presence became important to festival organizers. Strategically dispersing restrooms and showers around a festival is no longer ignored. Water accessibility became very important to festivals, starting a trend of free water stations being available to festival attendees across the nation, as well as bottled water to be sold at a lower price. Festival passes have become harder to fake, taking shape most popularly as wrist bands that people wear. In many cases the wrist bands have RFID technology in them so attendees can scan in and out of the festival grounds. Maybe Woodstock ’99 needed to happen so there could truly be a be-all-end-all example of just what not to do when creating a festival. This is what happens when greed and disorganization rule the flow festival instead of safety and organization. One of the main reasons a disastrous festival like Woodstock ’99 will never happen again is how new technological progresses have shaped the evolution of festivals, mostly, for the better.

1.    Kreps, Daniel. "19 Worst Things About Woodstock '99." Rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone, 31       July 2014. Web. 28 May 2016.
2.    Schuftan, Craig. Entertain Us. Sydney: ABC, 2012. Print.
3.    Jacobs, Matthew. "Let’s Revisit The Chaos Of Woodstock ‘99, ‘The Day The Music Died’."          Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 23 July 2014. Web. 28 May 2016.
4.    SonicNet Music News. "QOTD RESULTS: WAS WOODSTOCK '99 A SUCCESS?" MTV.com.          SonicNet Music News, 27 July 1999. Web. 28 May 2016.
5.    The Heroes of Woodstock http://www.theheroesofwoodstock.com/

The History of Camp Bisco

Camp Bisco, a jam-tronica festival started by the band The Disco Biscuits is very well known within festival circles. CB has a long, storied, and deep past that stretches back 17 years to the dark ages of 1999, and now in 2016 Camp Bisco is back for it's second year in a row in their new location of Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania. So with it's re-emergence let's go take a look at the history of the legendary Camp Bisco.

Camp Bisco originated in 1999 "out of necessity," Brownstein, The Disco Biscuits bassist, says "When the Biscuits started as a young Philadelphia band in the '90s, we were in the festival circuit, and like any young band we started playing at noon. We knew within a year or two that we weren't the noontime band anymore, that our fan base had outgrown that, but the promoters still didn't necessarily believe it." The band played to an audience of 1,500 at the 1997 All Good Festival at noon, which quickly cleared out after the Biscuits were done playing. That was the straw that broke the camels back for the band. They wanted control, as well as a way to put the spotlight on other similar acts, and in 1999 the first camp bisco was born with the Disco Biscuits playing 4 hour sets each day. The 1999 edition of the festival included the popular jam band Sector 9, now Sound Tribe Sector 9 and 18 other emerging jam and DJ acts. With about 800 attendees and a bunch of "unknown and extremely affordable bands," Brownstein says the first Camp Bisco went off to be enough of a success to continue year after year seeing profits raise 20% every year. 

A Flyer for the first Camp Bisco that happened in Titusvile, Pennsylvania.

A Flyer for the first Camp Bisco that happened in Titusvile, Pennsylvania.

After the first iteration of Camp Bisco, the festival moved around a bit. Morris, Pennsylvania at the Saw Mill Ski Area for Camp Bisco 2 in 2000. Union Dale, Pennsylvania at Salansky Farms for Camp Bisco 3 in 2002. By the time Camp Bisco IV came around in 2005, The disco Biscuits had an offer on their hands. A Production company called Meat Camp Productions (Now MCP Presents), wanted to take over the management of Camp Bisco. The Biscuits agreed because MCP were huge fans of the Biscuits, and they thought who would be better to take over the festival than the fans themselves. The biscuits made sure to retain having heavy hand in the formation of the festival. MCP wanted to make Camp Bisco a larger event and they did that by moving to Skyetop Festival Ground in Van Etten, NY. Larger acts like Umphreys Mcgee, Younger Brother, Big in Japan and John Brown's Body played the festival that year. Festival attendance grew to 4,400 people, making this the largest Camp Bisco yet. Even though the festival was a success in some respects, MCP was seeing heavy losses. But, these losses are to be expected when a company is going though a rebrand. 

The Lineup for Camp Bisco IV from 2005

The Lineup for Camp Bisco IV from 2005

In 2006 Camp Bisco was moved again to Hunter Mountain Ski & Lodge in Hunter, NY. After Camp Bisco V, MCP thought they found the perfect long-term home for Camp Bisco. From 2007 - 2013 Camp Bisco took place at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, New York. The move was very controversial, mostly because the country club was maintained by the bikers who run the Harley Rendezvous Classic, one of the largest annual gatherings of motorcycle enthusiasts in the country. The Biscuits were nervous because of the stories of clashes between the Hell's Angels and Hippies from the 60's. They thought that this would make long time fans not want to come for fear of harassment or danger. But, the bikers turned out to be a valuable asset to CB, acting as security for the festival, with minimal problems. In 2008 the crowd size almost doubled from 2006 to just about 8,000 people. In 2009 Camp Bisco had over 10,000 people in attendance, breaking the growth goals set in 2008 by The Disco Biscuits and MCP. 

Camp Bisco was getting bigger and bigger as the years went on. The pass price stayed low so young people with less disposable income could come, the jam band to electronic performance ratio was kept balanced, attendance was growing every year, and larger acts like Snoop Dogg, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Shpongle, Ween, and Thievery Corporation to name a few were performing. Things were looking up for MCP and Camp Bisco. 

Then after the 2013 installment of Camp Bisco, things took a turn. Fans just weren't hearing anything from the organizers about what is coming for the 2014 festival. People were getting antsy to hear about what was in store for 2014, but that news never came. It turns out that the towns like Mariaville and Pattersonville that surround the Indian Lookout Country Club were infuriated by Camp Bisco and issues relating to the festival like traffic noise and light pollution. Countless complaints were filed to the local authorities from local residents. In 2013 there were a slew of drug arrests, and hospitalizations which ignited the fire that was fueled by a death by drug overdose in 2012 at Bisco. Public outcry against the festival, a lawsuit and negligence to apply for proper licenses led to the cancellation of Camp Bisco for 2014. The Disco Biscuits were trying everything in their power to get the festival running, but enough was enough and in March, 2014 they released a statement saying:

After much deliberation and tireless efforts to make Camp happen this year, we had to make the tough decision to take a year off. We will be coming back in 2015 with an amazing event that will cater to the needs, wants and wishes of Camp Bisco’s most faithful and valued attendees!
— The Disco Biscuits

 According to a report from the Daily Gazette, MCP "failed to comply with a number of contingencies, most dealing with post-event reporting."

That's all not to say that a New York based MCP festival didn't occur in 2014. In fact MCP put on a festival just an hour away from where Camp Bisco takes place in Saugerties, New York. The infamous festival was named The Hudson Project and it showcased a lineup pretty similar to what Camp Bisco would normally present. 

The Hudson Project's Lineup

The Hudson Project's Lineup

The Hudson Project famously known for all of its problems relating to rain, mud, strict policy, underaged issues, strict security, tent break-ins, riots, destruction and cancelled performances deserves a write up of its own. Needless to say the festival was a complete failure and left people high and dry (or wet) and many without a festival experience Camp Bisco would normally deliver. 

After the cancellation of the 2013 Camp Bisco and the complete flop that was the Hudson Project people were speculating that there was not going to a be a Camp Bisco 2015, even though the organizers said there would be. By April it was getting a little late in the year to announce a summer music festival but on April 28th a cryptic crossword puzzle was placed on CB's social media. 

The answers on the 2014 Announcement crossword puzzle

The answers on the 2014 Announcement crossword puzzle

The puzzle was the first real, substantial piece of evidence that Camp Bisco was coming back that fans could cling to other than the countless rumors that were flying around the internet. The clues mentioned phrases like "Home", "Bisco", and "Pennsylvania" in the puzzle. All of sudden the 2015 installment of Camp Bisco had a new location; the home of funniest fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin, The Electric City: Scranton, Pennsylvania. Then on April 30th Camp Bisco released an official announcement confirming the new location at Montage Mountain Ski Resort (The same location of The Allman Brothers led, folk/rock The Peach Music Festival) and the 2015 lineup with Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, STS9, and Big Gigantic headlining.

The festival was a hit, but that's not to say there wasn't anything for attendees to complain about. Traffic to get in was incredibly slow at most points of the days. Parking lots were far away from camping grounds. During some of the security checks people cars, luggage, and storage were turned upside down, while some were just waved through without a glance. The distance between the parking lots and the festival grounds were supposed to be remedied by tractors taking people back and forth, but the tractors would just stop coming forcing people to lug all of their heavy equipment to the camp grounds on their own. The last point wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't so late at night, the distance wasn't so long and the hills weren't so treacherous. The attendees also had to get used to the setup and layout of the festival. Stages were pretty far apart and going between them was often a chore when crowds were large and everyone was frantically trying to get to their next set. Some of the trails were a little hard to traverse, especially if you were mildly impaired. Thursday night Camp Bisco main stay, Pretty Lights threw down a mildly sloppy performance with audio cut-outs and strange sounding transitions, still putting on a good performance, but some were left with a bad taste in their mouth. On the second day of The Disco Biscuits became the focus with Haywyre, Sweater Beats, and Mr. Carmack all putting their best feet forward and Big Gigantic and Kill the Noise to close out the night.

A Picture from Saturday evening's Disco Biscuits set.

A Picture from Saturday evening's Disco Biscuits set.

A rain storm plagued the last day of the festival on Saturday. Announcements were made over the loud speakers throughout the ski area asking people to return to their camp sites as the dark clouds loomed torwards the mountain. Luckily the storm was gone as quick as it arrived and festival goers were able to return to grounds, leaving behind a freindly gesture of a rainbow over the mountain.

A double rainbow was gifted to the festival after the rainstorm on Saturday moved out as an good omen of things to come.

A double rainbow was gifted to the festival after the rainstorm on Saturday moved out as an good omen of things to come.

The Disco Biscuits put on a high energy performance to rebound from the stress the rain caused followed by Bassnecatar putting a legendary set that people were waiting for since his cancellation at The Hudson Project.

“Bisco, we made it back, this is the revenge right here!”
— Lorin Ashton (Bassnectar)

Necatar's set began with his trademarked bass-filled set accompanied by a fantastic light show on Saturday night. When midnight arrived on Saturday night people began to strike their campsites and wheel their coolers and tents back to the parking lots where their cars lived for the past three days looking forward to 2016 and the next Camp Bisco.

Back in January the Biscuits put out an announcement saying that the festival would continue in the new Scranton-based home.   

The Disco Biscuits announcement for the 2016 Camp Bisco

The Disco Biscuits announcement for the 2016 Camp Bisco

Just a few days ago the lineup for 2016 was also confirmed. Take a look below. 

Camp Bisco 2016 Lineup

Camp Bisco 2016 Lineup

We are just as excited to return to the mountain as you are this summer. We hope to catch you there, and if you see us please say hi! For more information and to buy passes for Camp Bisco 2016 Head on over to the official website by CLICKING HERE.

Sources: 
[1] PhantasyTour.com
[2] Billboard.com
[3] Musictimes.com
[4] Dancing Astronaut
[5] Syracuse.com
[6] YourEDM.com
[7] RaverRafting.com
[8] Thump
[9] Jam Base