Lessons from Dirtybird Campout East…You Can’t Stop the Music!
A flock of Dirtybirds migrated from all over the world to a little place in Florida tucked away in the woods South of Orlando. The camp out, organized by the DoLab and Dirtybird Records, began on the West Coast and was announced at the end of Claude Vonstroke’s epic set at Hulaween last year. There was speculation that the Dirtybird Campout East would happen at Suwannee because it was announced during Hulaween, but the venue was eventually revealed to be Forever Florida in St. Cloud.
The festival began Thursday with Claude Vonstroke and Seth Troxler laying down exotic beats for the early birds and music went on into the night. For those who were there this was an intimate experience with some legendary artists in an open-air setting with beautiful weather. The parties went on into the night and the festival was off to a bangin’ start.
As more birds started flocking in on Friday news was announced that the festival gates were closed due to some issues. Word started to float around Facebook and Twitter that people who were not in the festival would not be able to enter.
As the day progressed, the gates opened but there was still no music. Apparently, local good ol’ Florida county officials pulled the permits because Seth Troxler opened a wormhole in the time space continuum over St. Cloud. It took hundreds of phone calls, a small army of organizers, the involvement of Pitbull and his legal team and even a stamp of approval from Senator Marco Rubio.
After a renegade night on Friday, the speakers were re-positioned and the festival resumed and carried the Dirtybird flock to new heights on Saturday and Sunday. In the words of Claude Vonstroke, “They double dropped the permit…and then we TRIPLE dropped them.”
Review by Andrew Goebel and Heather Solburg:
Highlights of the Weekend
DJ Tennis took a break from the court and graced the flock of birds with his presence at the Campout. Tennis, a.k.a. Manfredi Romano, is the founder of Life and Death Records, a company putting on exquisite events around the world. We saw him and many other Life and Death artists at Rakastella during Art Basel a few months ago and it was great to enjoy another DJ Tennis experience at the Campout.
MVP award of the weekend goes to the legend and the head of Dirtybird Records, Claude Vonstroke. There was not a moment during the entire weekend that Claude was not interacting and participating in activities with the rest of the flock. The proud bearer of “20 inch calves” was spotted announcing Bingo, riding around in his feathered golf cart chariot, getting down in the crowd and spinning incredible DJ sets.
A little story time from @vonstroke today at the press meeting at @dirtybirdcamp. Despite everything that’s happened this weekend he’s still smiling and has a positive out look on the whole situation. There already talking about next year. #dirtybirdcampout #dirtybirdrecords #dirtybirdcampouteast #floridamusicblog #charliehustle2000 #musicfestival #floridafestival #electronicmusic #housemusic #technomusic #drumnbass #claudevonstroke #dj #dirtybirdcampout2018 #hula #claptone #salva #eprom #djcraze #pillowtalk #greenvelvet #ivylab #destructo #prokfitch #sebastienv #salva #bizmarkie #eprom #happycampers
Soul Clap, Pillowtalk, Wolf & Lamb – Crew Love
We had just seen these guys, minus Wolf & Lamb at their Crew Love showcase at Electric Pickle at Art Basel and they brought some truly special vibes to the Dirtybird Campout East. Funky, deep and psychedelic vibes were curated as these legends went back to back from three hours on Sunday afternoon. As the first raindrop began to fall, the song “raingurl” by Yaeji created a special moment for everyone who was there dancing.
This mythical, anonymous DJ was a true blessing for lovers of house music and mystery. The beaked mask and white gloves would be enough to make Claptone stand out of a crowd, but the music he produces and sets he performs are what truly put him on another level as a musician. Despite circumstances that caused some artists to not perform and set times to become jumbled, sets like Claptone’s are what made the weekend a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Since the Do LaB crew had a lot of work to do, rearranging the stage speakers to face south, The Bass Stage got started a little later than The Birdhouse on Saturday. These speakers are massive; it was really impressive to watch the on the spot transitions taking place. Seeing these guys in action, watching them in their element, only added to the excitement and energy buzzing through the campgrounds.
In typical Sage Armstrong fashion, he had the entire crowd bumpin’ and smiling throughout his set – the perfect blend of house, bass, and hip-hop. As if the crowd wasn’t already amped enough, he brought pure, raw energy to the audience, making it clear that the party had officially started.
Madame X was the surprise set of the weekend for me. I had not heard her before, but am always down to support the females on the lineup. Boy am I glad I didn’t miss a second of her set. She tested the limits of those speakers, with her eclectic mix of, well, basically every genre of music. In a male-dominated industry, she gave those boys a run for their money. Definitely one of my favorite sets of the weekend.
LTJ Bukem & MC Armanni
I first became enamored with drum and bass in the mid-nineties, and LTJ Bukem was one of the first DJs that really caught my attention. It’s been more than a minute since I’ve had an opportunity to hear him play, so I was chomping at the bit for this set to happen. Bukem and MC Armanni onstage together was pure gold. Bukem always seems to have superb musical choices up his sleeves, equal parts sublime and melodic, coupled with rugged drums and deep bass. With Armanni, the vocals were a great addition to the mixes and music and not a competing sound, but instead, a complimenting dynamic. We got down and dirty on that set and I could not stop dancing, from beginning to end.
Billy was a lot of fun. His bass house sound was a nice warm-up for the bass stage. He played some DnB also, as bass was the theme for the stage. Even the way he was dressed was fun and his energy was infectious. He had played the night before on the Bass Stage and was fully aware of the type of crowd he could expect, with crowd and selector both appearing up for it. His bouncing selections were punctuated by his deft mixing abilities. Definitely a crowd favorite.
The last time I saw Roni Size was with the Reprazent live band/album tour – a show that will forever go down as one of the best shows I’ve seen. The drum and bass from Roni this weekend was a little harder than those days when I first got into it, yet still had a decided Full Cycle sound. He played flawlessly, with the ease of a seasoned veteran. It was so great to see his dreads bouncing and a huge smile on his face. He was in his element and the crowd absolutely loved it.
After Size’s set, I really didn’t know how things could get any better. Then…Barclay Crenshaw came on. If you can’t get down and dance to a Barclay set, you really just don’t know how to have fun. His sets are the perfect mix of multiple genres, all with one element in common – bass. He didn’t stop bouncing for a single second of that set, and neither did anyone on the dance floor. At this point, I’m not sure I’m ever going to get “U Are In My System feat. The Cool Kids” out of my head.
Biz Markie with DJ Cool V
I have to admit, Biz Markie was a huge draw for me. This was definitely a bucket list show. And he did not disappoint! His set took us through the history of hip hop, working the crossfader with his nose and all. Always the consummate professional, Biz had the crowd in his pocket early on and continued to feed them musical history and knowledge throughout, from one track to the next.
I have followed Craze’s career since the very beginning, when he shared his talents with the world, claiming the DMC World DJ Championship trophy three years in a row. Since that time, he has expanded his music library to include everything from hip hop to trap and drum and bass. You never know what he’s going to throw at you during his sets, but you know, without a doubt, to wear your dancing shoes, because it’s gonna be a dance party. He came with some heavy DnB early on, which had a somewhat weary, rain-soaked crowd rejuvenated and bouncing. You know a set is moving people when you hear random shouts of approval as a new track drops. The whoops and grunts were audible throughout Craze’s set.
Nothing but smiles at Dirtybird Campout East 2018. We miss the vibes, the music and the people already! Thank you @vonstroke and everyone at @thedolab and @dirtybirdrecords for making the magic happen . . . . . #housemusic #techno #progressivehouse #space #music #vibes #weekend #festylife #musicfestival #rave #untzuntz #dirtybirds #dirtybirdcampout #miami #orlando #stcloud #patriots #Superbowl #dirtybirdcampout #floridamusicfestival #foreverflorida #claudevonstroke #claptone #soulclap #goodmusic #friends #floridamusicblog
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What makes the Campout experience so unique is that, in addition to all the music, there are games that go on throughout the day and into the early evening. Never a dull moment at camp! Once you’ve signed your release, you are given a team color at random. Purple is my favorite color and I was 100% down to represent my color. Imagine my surprise, when I was handed a red bandana…and my husband got green. I was taken aback for a split second. But, my next thought was – “Cool, they force you to get out there and interact with people you might otherwise never have met.” The games added a unique element to the festival, giving it that summer camp feel. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than listening to my favorite music while reminiscing about my days at summer camp.
The games went on throughout the day and had something for everyone. The 3-legged race, combined with a potato sack race was a sight to see. The water balloon toss had everyone on the field smiling, particularly when the contest was over and it was a free-for-all water balloon fight. If archery is your thing, there was plenty of time for that, as that booth was open for four to five hours each day.
There was even a hula hoop contest and double dutch session. Attendees also had an opportunity to sponsor a team for the Give a Beat Giant Jenga. Teams featured various artists, with all proceeds going to assist in disrupting the school to prison pipeline. This was an inspiring way to give back to the community through the one thing that unified everyone at DBC – music.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Swamp Tour. Every hour or so, fans had the opportunity to hop onboard a raised swamp buggy for a tour of Forever Florida. Our tour guide, Tom, offered us a closer look at the grounds, sharing stories and facts about the land and animals that they work so hard to protect. Tom really was a trooper. He took our rowdy (yet respectful) antics in stride, all with a smile and a laugh. I’ll be honest, I think he was quite intrigued with the DBC crew. I’m not sure he’d ever seen anything like us.
Every element of this festival was critical in making it what it is – a truly unique and unforgettable experience. The fact that we went a full day without music, yet everyone wore their smiles and still had a great time, proved that the Dirtybird party was unstoppable. No matter where you were on the grounds, music was always there to keep you pumped up.
Aside from the Thursday night permit issue, no stone was left unturned. At an event like this, it’s rare for one to not have to choose one show over another. The schedule was well thought-out, as was the layout of the park. And, how often can you attend a music event where the artists interact with the crowd all weekend? The motto for Dirtybird Campout is “check your ego at the door.” Everyone is equal and we are all family. This truly was the theme of the weekend and I was humbled by this vibe within hours of setting up camp. My only disappointment was seeing the amount of trash campers left behind. This was supposed to be a “leave no trace” event, and the staff did an incredible job with their strategically placed, sorted trash bins throughout the park. I was stunned at the filth left behind as we headed out Monday afternoon. Remember, Campers, if you don’t clean it up, someone from the Campout crew has to.
We at Florida Music Blog have been blessed with opportunities, attending some talent-filled shows and festivals across the Southeast. The Dirtybird Campout East gave me great insight into how the West coast does music. They put their heart and soul into it and have built an impressive family. Everyone is willing to invest and travel far and wide, building memories centered on what we all love most. It was inspiring and left me with one compelling goal…make it to Dirtybird Campout West and NEVER miss another event with all these beautiful souls.
Following this amazing weekend, we took a moment to catch up with some of the artists for their thoughts and insight.
“It was lovely out there on location even though it was raining a bit when I played. This didn’t hold back the crowd at all. Lots of fun playing for this crazy bunch of beautiful people. Thanks to the DB crew for The Dirtybird Campout jacket. It was the best present. I love you.”
“The overall vibe of DBC East was one of overwhelming positivity in spite of all the challenges. I was blown away by this because on Friday it really seemed like there was no chance the music was going to come back on. I really enjoyed opening up the main stage on Saturday to a rabid crowd that was down to go nuts from the very first kick.”
“East Coast Dirtybird Campout was actually my favorite of all campouts, from the crazy dramas of it being closed and then reopened, to the site itself and just the campers that went. Everything felt so close and intimate, like one big family, which then made all of the sets super special. The best moment for me was being able to take over from the decks from Marshall Jefferson. I have been brought up with his music and it was an absolute honor to follow him and then play to the Dirtybird campers. Every campout always leaves an amazing feeling inside of me and I will have memories for the rest of my life from them.”
“Dirtybird Campout was one giant big family of fans and artists, united together for the love of techno! The vibes were unmatched. Everyone is approachable and just happy to be there.”
(as told to Jen McKinnon)
Ciszak (photo by Charlie Hustle)
Photos by Charlie Hustle, Andrew Goebel and Solbug