It’s finally October. Time to pack up and store our festival tents and gear. Time to get ready for our favorite DJ’s and producers to trade out their summer roster of festivals for smaller club gigs and tours. It’s been a great summer of camping festivals here in California and the Dirtybird Campout, held last weekend at Lake San Antonio in California, was the ultimate unique festival to close out the summer season. Here are 5 reasons why the Dirtybird Records Campout was the best way to send off festival season with a bang.
1. Don’t Call It A Festival
It’s no accident that the event is called a campout. You won’t find a lot of the traditional festival staples here – there’s not a lot of clothing and accessory vendors, and yoga and workshop programming, while available in moderation definitely takes a backseat. The Dirtybird crew draws their influence from the good old fashioned summercamps of your childhood. You’ll find camp games like tournament kickball, a festival-wide capture the flag and a massive scavenger hunt. There are arts and crafts to help you take your camp and totem to the next level, and tons of games and equipment scattered throughout the venue to help you release your inner child. With the entire festival divided up into 4 color teams, friendly competition infuses everything – from wheelbarrow racing to dance battles in the crowd. And don’t be surprised when the Dirtybird Players get in on the fun. This year, attendees at the Robot Race event were treated to a secret set by none other than J. Phlip. I was repping the Green Team this year. We didn’t take home the grand prize of bragging rights but definitely had a blast – and earned a few merit badges – along the way.
2. The Dirtybird Players Are There To Party With You
It’s no secret that at most festivals, your favorite DJ or producer is really only on site for the few hours of their set, before jetting off to another city or gig. At the Dirtybird Campout, the performers really try to be on site as much as possible – that’s how fun it is. And of course, the resident Dirtybird Players are at the heart of it all. We saw Walker & Royce hanging out grabbing a snack at the The Dough Lab Pizza booth, and a commotion in the center of the crowd during Chris Lorenzo’s set turned out not to be a shuffling dance pit. It was none other than Claude Von Stroke himself, the head counselor of Dirtybird Records, causing a bit of a crowd stir as he moved to the front. It’s moments like these that make the campout feel like one big party, not a fancy experience where what you as the attendee do is so far removed from the folks who planned it.
3. A Brand New Venue – Across the Lake from Lightning in A Bottle
The 3rd Annual Dirtybird Campout moved to a new home this year at Lake San Antonio, just across from the campsites that host Lightning in a Bottle – Central California’s massive festival produced by the Do Lab. It was clear with this new change of venue that the Do Lab and the Dirtybird crew are seeking out some permanent roots to grow and expand this event. As with every new venue, there are kinks to work out. Don’t be surprised if next year the map is a little more condensed with camping a bit closer to the stages. But the new venue has plenty of room. Every single attendee was allowed to camp with their car – a huge bonus for any of us who have trekked with our gear at a festival. If this venue becomes the new permanent home for the Campout we can only expect bigger and better things to come!
4. Enter the Bass Lodge
This year’s campout also saw the brand new addition of a second stage – the Bass Lodge. Some acts at the Bass Lodge still fell under the conventional house and techno genres you would expect – Desert Hearts brothers Mikey Lion b2b Porkchop opened up the stage’s offerings. For the most part, the Bass Lodge showcased a wide variety of other styles, giving attendees a nice option if they wanted to take a break from bouncing to the Dirtybird sound. Highlights included Tennyson’s avant-garde jazz-based selections, KLL SMTH’s technical bass orchestrations, and a wild set by the Egyptian Lover that had him literally throwing vinyl in to the crowd. It’s no surprise that the Dirtybird Campout would give such a voice to the bass-y side of things when you consider than Claude Von Stroke’s alter-ego Barclay Crenshaw was playing as well. His smooth hip-hop influenced set gets better every time we have the pleasure of witnessing it, and the curated Bass Lodge lineup reflects this.
5. Ending Things With A Proper Family Set
The final set on Sunday night at the main Birdhouse Stage was an incredible tag-team mash-up of the weekend’s best performers. It’s true no one wanted to leave the Campout, least of all the DJ’s and producers who were making so much magic. And so the only way to properly say goodbye (for now) was with a Dirtybird Family set with DJ’s like Ardalan, Mija, Walker & Royce, Shiba San, and more rotating on the decks for 5-7 minutes each. The energy in the crowd was at its highest of the campout and the only thing we could think as the music ended was GIVE US MORE !
The Dirtybird Campout is a unique experience. You can get a taste of what Claude Von Stroke’s family is offering at their BBQ touring shows and Quarterly events in San Francisco, California, but the only way to truly experience it is to head to camp for yourself. Luckily enough, you don’t even have to wait till next summer. The big surprise of this year’s campout was that they’ll be hosting an East Coast Campout this February. The details and locatio are forthcoming, but don’t worry, we’ll see you there.
[Photo Credit: Juliana Bernstein]