Camp Bisco a no-go in 2014
DUANESBURG It’s official: Camp Bisco is taking a hiatus this year.
The controversial three-day electronic dance music festival featuring the Disco Biscuits won’t roll into the Indian Lookout Country Club this summer, the band announced on Facebook Thursday. In a post to fans signed by the band, they indicated a desire to return to the campground in 2015, but have abandoned any hope of hosting an event at Mariaville Lake this year.
“We have shared such amazing experiences throughout the last decade and a half of Camp and we look forward to doubling down on that after this year off,” the band said in a statement posted on its page late Thursday afternoon. “We are so thankful for all your rabid support, so please stay tuned, there will be some amazing announcements right around the corner.”
The announcement wasn’t much of a surprise for fans or local officials, since MCP Presents — the festival’s Denver-based promoter — never sought a mass-gathering permit from the state Department of Health or any of the necessary approvals from Duanesburg’s Planning Board.
The promoter also didn’t reserve dates at Indian Lookout, the 200-acre venue that has hosted the event for seven consecutive years.
The announcement also comes about eight months after a civil lawsuit was formally filed against MCP by the mother of a fan who lapsed into a coma during the event two years ago. Deborah Bynum’s claim accuses festival organizers and the campground owner of being woefully unprepared to care for injured individuals at the campground. Her daughter, Heather, was stricken in her tent at the VIP section of the campground in the hours before the festival’s musical acts started in 2012.
Some Bisco detractors loathed the arrival of the annual festival because of the traffic snarls that occurred when fans arrived and left. Others criticized festival organizers for being lax on drugs and creating an uptick in overdose cases at area hospitals.
But Bisco also had its share of supporters — namely the businesses that cater to a crowd the size of a small city. Store owners, hotels and support services see a bump in business when the festival rolls in each summer.
A spokesman for MCP declined to comment on the announcement.
The promoter appears to be cultivating a festival in the Ulster County town of Saugerties that may be aimed at replacing the void left by Bisco over the long term.
In November, MCP started finalizing plans for a different electronica festival more than 70 miles away from Mariaville Lake on the same weekend Bisco is traditionally scheduled. MCP President Brett Keber and owner Jonathan Fordin have received preliminary approvals for the Hudson Music and Arts Festival, a three-day event they are organizing for the second week of July.
The festival is slated for the privately-owned Winston Farm — the same venue that hosted Woodstock ’94 — and is expected to feature four stages, 80 musical acts and up to 30,000 fans, with 95 percent of them expected to camp overnight. Last month, Fordin told the Saugerties Town Board the multigenre, multiday event will feature “a little bit of music for everyone” and anticipates it will grow over time.
“We expect to see a pretty large influx over the years,” he said. “In this first year, it’ll be introducing people to the area. But as we continue to grow, it’s going to become a bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Fans posting on the Disco Biscuit’s page expressed disappointment over the announcement. Some, however, were pleased the band is taking a year to re-evaluate the festival.
Some Biscuit fans were disenchanted with the festival because the other musical acts seemed to be drawing an unsavory crowd that didn’t care about the feature band. Even last summer, some were calling for them to tone down the number of EDM acts and to get back to their roots as a jam band.
“Good riddance,” posted one fan after the announcement. “Resurrect camp the way it’s meant to be, a Biscuits-centric festival.”