Location: Scranton, PA (Montage Mountain)
Two weekends ago I was in my Happy Place; surrounded by music and free spirits within the music festival Camp Bisco. Having experienced this festival for the first time, there are definitely somethings that I would do differently if I choose to attend again… I thought I was pretty well prepared since I had done TomorrowWorld twice, but camping on a mountain, and this festival all together, was a totally different experience.
The festival took place Thursday, Friday and Saturday with sets starting in the early afternoon and continuing throughout the night with the last sets ending around 4AM. Montage Mountain is a Ski Resort in the winter, and during the summer it hosts several events, including other festivals and concerts. The festival grounds feature a wave pool (which was right next to one of the stages!), a lazy river, another wading pool, and a zip line that would “zip” you right over one of the stages. There were 4 stages set up, technically there were two different venues (Live Nation owned at least two of the stages) and the music genres ranged from super heavy bass electronic music to jam bands. The light shows were huge features in many of the performances.
Entering the festival camp site was a bit of a headache. Those of us that were camping were able to arrive and set up camp 10PM Wednesday. First, as the cars arrived they were filtered into the main parking lot of the ski resort to wait as previous groups were going through security and parking in the on-site parking lots. This process took several hours (I’m sure the idea to keep the flow to security and the parking lot under control). My friend and I had arrived around 9:30PM and waited over 2 hours in the first parking lot before we were directed to drive a few minutes further to where security checked all the vehicles entering and we were able to park and unpack our cars. From the parking lot shuttles (similar to a hayride truck) would transport the campers and their camping supplies to the various campsites throughout the mountain. This was another long wait where tired and grumpy festival goers started to cut into line and do whatever it took to finally catch a ride up the mountain. This was the line that my friend and I met new additions to our festival family, The Pineapple Gang aka the Flamingo Squad. The shuttle stopped at various stops throughout the mountain and people could get off and begin to set up camp within the designated areas, marked with letters of the alphabet. As we traveled up the mountain on the shuttle you could see that most of the open and available space for tents were throughout the cleared ski paths, although many people would find spots at the base of the hills to set their camp sites up and hang hammocks in the trees. By the time we set up camp and laid down, it was past 5AM on Thursday morning.
We had really hit it off with The Flamingo Squad while we were waiting for the shuttles, and since they had already been to this festival a few times my friend and I decided to camp with them. They led us to the very top of the mountain, which I admittedly underestimated how tiring the climb to the top would be at the end of a day of dancing and walking to/from the various stages. It wasn’t until the second day of the festival where we realized that the shuttles ran constant loops that we could jump on outside of the festival entrance and it would eventually take us back to the camp site. There were some reports of theft within the festival, but for the most part everyone I encountered was really nice and truly embodied the “Camp Bisco” spirit.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Renegade Stage that was located where the RVs were parked. The other stages included Electric City, Above the Waves and The Office. Electric City was the biggest stage. It was housed in a huge pavilion with seating but also had a large lawn behind it for people who would rather have room to dance or just sit in the grassy areas. The biggest acts would play here: The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Illenium, Tipper, etc. My personal favorite stage was Above the Waves since it was located right next a large wave pool. On a hot day it was nice to have the option to cool off and still listen to the music you came to hear. The Office was the smallest stage of the three that I went to. But still had a nice set up with space to dance and a little grassy area to the side to sit down and take a break from walking and dancing.
Aside from really long waiting times to get into the parking lot and onto the mountain, the festival was a great time! The water attractions added a neat twist on the festival experience. It was also nice that the ski lodge was open so there were actual restrooms with running water you could use to take a break from the porta-potties. For the most part I really enjoyed the food from the various vendors we tried, too! The staff that was working the event did a great job in maintaining order in the crowds. There were plenty of water stations and the festival grounds were cleaned really well day to day. A few things I would have done differently: I would have gone up on Thursday morning rather than Wednesday night. That one night of actual sleep would have made a huge difference since the party would tend to continue at the camp sites long after the last sets would end for the night. The cart that I brought, which broke when we were dragging it to our camp site Wednesday evening, wasn’t great for the mountain terrain. Also, a lot of the things we brought were unnecessary, a lighter load would have saved us on our trek in.
The music selection and the different attractions available this festival made it one of a kind! I haven’t decided if I’d attend again, or if I do maybe I’d stay at a hotel rather than camp. But it’s definitely worth a camping trip at least once!