I’ve always thought music festivals were synonymous with family camping trips. People go to music festivals for (mostly) the same reasons they go camping: to have fun, get caught up in a new environment, and spend time with friends that are more like family. However, as music festivals grow more and more popular, the intimacy of a camping trip is replaced with huge crowds, overly-liquored teenagers, and unavoidable logistical issues. It wasn’t until I attended Dirtybird Records\’ first ever Dirtybird Campout this past weekend (October 2-4) that the lines between music festival and your family trip to the woods once again began to blur.
Teaming up with the Do Lab (the company responsible for Lightning in a Bottle), Dirtybird boss Barclay Crenshaw, who makes music under the name Claude Von Stroke, and the rest of the Dirtybird team curated an outdoor party that was equal parts music festival and summer camp. Most music festivals simply provide stages, artists, food, and alcohol. Some larger festivals add carnival rides and informational speakers on top of that, but the main focus almost always remains on the music. The main focus of the Dirtybird Campout however was to simply have as much fun as possible.
The number of activities available to those in attendance was truly astounding. Throughout the weekend eager campers could do arts and crafts, shoot bows and arrows, learn to tie knots, cool off on the slip n’ slide, and much much more while the enormous speakers at the single stage provided the booty shakin’ soundtrack you’d expect from any Dirtybird function.
For team games such as the sack races, dodgeball, and tug of war, campers could simply walk up and join the fun, or if you went to the Games HQ next to the Merch Booth, you could join one of four teams: green, purple, yellow, or orange. Over the course of the weekend, each team acquired points for winning various games, with the winners to be crowned on Sunday. (Purple team won. I was on green.) This amount of friendly competition not only increased the desire to participate in the various activities, but added to the sense of unity that was already ever-present over the course of the weekend. Because the members of each team were given color-coded bandanas to wear around the festival, fellow teammates were easy to spot, exponentially increasing the number of new friends you met and the number of high fives you gave.
At Campout you’d also have an equal chance of high-fiving your favorite artist because everyone on team Dirtybird (a.k.a. every artist who performed) was equally excited to be a part of the festival. Within five minutes of entering on Friday, I saw Ardalan (who goes by Ardy) passing by wearing full campout gear. After we chatted for a bit, he told me he was about to go play some kickball, and I turned around to see Christian Martin in the same camp counselor outfit talking to a group of fans who had just stopped playing basketball in order to say hi the OG Dirtybird. Every time I ran into one of the artists, whether it was Justin Martin serving pizza, Kill Frenzy at the Campout group photo, or Claude sifting through the after hours crowd, they were more than happy to stop for a picture and talk about the festival or anything else.
Christian Martin With a fan
The best part of the Dirtybird Campout though was that the artists took that new level of excitement about the festival right on stage with them. Whether it was the classic Dirtybird players like Justin Martin and J. Philp; frequent collaborators like Genghis Clan and Sacha Robotti, or newcomers like &Me and Billy Kenny, the environment gave the performer an extra boost of creative energy, turning already funky sets into complete and utter dance parties. Special mentions go to Justin Jay, Kill Frenzy and Claude Von Stroke. Justin Jay brought out his two friends Josh Taylor and Ben Glasser for the last 25 minutes of his set to sing and play guitar, respectively, giving a soulful vibe to the huge house beats. Kill Frenzy’s bass-in-the-face style had the crowd gyrating uncontrollably all the way up until he dropped “Simon Says” by Pharaohe Monch, at which point everyone completely submitted themselves to the music, and when it was finally approaching Claude’s turn on the decks, the number of people running to the stage was equivalent to a crowd of people running to an In ’n out truck that gave you twenty dollars along with your double-double. However, instead of receiving burgers and cash, we got ninety minutes of organic, grade-A, Dirtybird vibes served by the fearless leader himself.
From left to right: Josh Taylor, Justin Jay, Ben Glasser
Claude Von Stroke
The cherry on top of this festival that was way too fun for it’s first time being held, was the after hours stage. During the day we got all of our favorite artists and more, but the after hours demonstrated just how into music team Dirtybird really is. On Friday night, the decks were graced by Daniel Bell, who Ardalan mentioned is “a legend,” and “the inventor of minimal funk house,” Solar, of whom Claude said, “is one of my favorite San Francisco DJ’s,” and Paranoid London, who J. Phlip, prior to the event, cited as the unannounced artist she was most excited for. Saturday night wasn’t as much of a showcase of the Dirtybirds’ favorite artists, even though Claude specifically mentioned he was pumped for EPROM’s booming bass music. Instead, it was more of a chance for our favorite birds to explore some different styles of DJing. Claude performed under his real name, Barclay Crenshaw, and played all manners of bass music and hip hop, including “Buggin’ Out” by A Tribe Called Quest, and for the last after hours set of the weekend, Justin and Christian reunited the Martin Bros. for a sunrise drum and bass set, the real fans of which weren’t even slightly phased by the rain that had started to fall halfway through.
Barclay Crenshaw at afterhours
Justin Martin and Christian Martin at afterhours
When I asked Claude backstage about his original thoughts on the Campout, he said the idea came about seven months ago, and after a couple weeks of deliberation, he told his manager, “Fuck it, I guess we’re doing Campout.” Now after attending the festival, it’s so difficult for me to believe that his attitude was so relaxed about it. Usually first time festivals are plagued with logistical issues, malfunctioning electronics, less than helpful staff, and an apologetic vibe that says, “come on guys, we’re trying.” Well Dirtybird Campout didn’t just try, it succeeded. One could attribute the success of the event to doing the BBQ’s the past few years or their partnership with The Do Lab, but what really made Campout such a great event was that Dirtybird saw all those in attendance as family. Everyone involved with Campout made you feel like part of the same family that weekend, and when the schedule said “Dirtybird Family Closing Set” on Sunday night, it wasn’t just referring to all the artists that had their turn on stage, it was referring to everyone on the dance floor as well.
All words and pictures by Harry Levin
For more pics of the Campout, go to harrywlevin.wordpress.com