MOOSIC — In the earliest stages of the thousands-strong dance party that is Camp Bisco, Northeastern Pennsylvania musicians got a chance to shine.
The three-day, approximately 90-act, jam, electronica and fusion festival officially kicked off Thursday with acts like Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals and Dopapod playing early-evening sets and priming audiences for headliners like Lotus and festival founders The Disco Biscuits. But well before energy boiled to a climactic point, it simmered intently.
On Wednesday night, RV and VIP campers were invited to set up shop early, and they were treated to intimate sets by electronic artists including Scranton’s Nick Patrick aka ISOBE, who was asked by the Biscuits’ camp to join only a week prior.
The dubstep artist was set up at a small stage in RV camping.
“There were about 100 people,” Patrick said. “It was really cool to see everybody there and getting excited.”
Thursday evening, Wilkes-Barre deep house musician, Newpy Hundo, who won a contest to earn a festival spot, treated local faithful to a set at the “Office Stage” below the main “Electric City” stage under the pavilion.
Alexis Fabbi of Mountain Top handed out stickers for the musician.
“It’s amazing that we have local musicians here,” Fabbi said. “He works so hard, and we love supporting him and getting together here to listen to him play.”
All varieties of electronic dance music were represented from classically trained pianist and guitarist Gryffin to renowned Australian duo Hermitude.
Duo Modern Measure took the Wave Stage early, bringing their drum and bass collaboration to dreamy dance revelry.
Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals graced the main stage audience with a mixture of hip hop, reggae and soul, feeding a hungry crowd.
When Dopapod took the Wave Stage, they infused the party with their combination of psychedelic funk, jazz and electronica, delivering “Vol. 3 #86,” which turned from methodically groovy jam to nearly metal showcase to adept livetronica in a gelled fashion displaying expert guitar and keyboard work.
Fusion veterans Lotus gave a high energy set to the main stage crowd, revealing new song “Sleep When We Are Dead,” from their album “Eat The Light,” released early Friday morning.
The sexy funk style of the tune acted as highlight to an adept improvisational set.
Headliners and festival producers The Disco Biscuits wasted little time endearing themselves to their faithful, opening with an older song “Triumph,” mixing darker rock elements with Aron Magner’s eerie keyboard riffs and John “The Barber” Gutwillig’s unyielding lead guitar touch.
The Biscuits’ set melded from the opener into jam-rock yarn “Paper Cut” before covering Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.”
A lengthy jam saw Gutwillig improvise in epic fashion before the quartet transitioned back into “Paper Cut,” which morphed into a performance both symphonic in Aron Magner’s keyboard play and delightfully dirty in the lip-biting trance-fusion that developed.
Bass player Marc Brownstein approached the mic for “42,” a dark funk structure that saw him turn to a slap bass style while taking vocal lead.
Casey Cashman of Bayonne, New Jersey has seen around 145 Disco Biscuits shows. For the last 11 years, he’s been involved in and helped facilitate an exercise in positive competition, shenanigans and community camaraderie known as “Color Wars.”
The leader of the “Purple Rain” team even designed shirts sporting Prince’s famed symbol in honor of the funk legend’s passing.
“It was a good opener,” Cashman said in regard to the set. “When they pulled into “42” … that’s always one of my favorites.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts