It’s about that time of year again where we kiss summer goodbye as we prepare for cooler months ahead, but it doesn’t have to be a polite peck on the cheek. Have a full, awkwardly sprawling make-out session with summer by heading to Dirtybird Campout West and give summer the sendoff it deserves!
At most festivals, the campground is typically basic and an ancillary component for the music, essentially a hierarchy with music at the top and camping well below that. But at Campout, the campground and associated activities are treated with equal priority. Priority is not given to any one activity, which begs the question of when is a person actually supposed to sleep in all of this?
Dirtybird Campout is like if the Boy Scout camp model was applied to a music festival. Rather than hosting a bunch of musical performances, the DB crew expanded on the camping side of things to add an impressive list of activities you might expect from a camp weekend like dodgeball, kickball, potato sack races, nature walks and star-gazing, but there’s also a lot that you might not expect, like floatie races, screenprinting, and totem crafting. One of the key components at DB Campout is that label members are not only there to play music, they are also Camp Counselors leading many of the activities. You can learn wood carving from Worthy, jog with Justin Martin, tie dye with Mikey Lion, or one of my personal favorites, race in a costumed boat relay with Subset.
Another big piece of the Campout activity arsenal is its wide selection of crafting opportunities. You can dye your hair, paint your skin/body, learn to crochet, watercolor…I’m really hoping one person takes on all of these to create some kind of character or creature. From what I can see in the activities lineup, this festival is a great opportunity to bring some boring, plain clothing so you can walk away with newly screen-printed or tie-dyed clothes of your own design! No more $50 for a (festival) t-shirt.
If you’re into audience participation, or into watching it, take the time to get to know the Bunkhouse, featuring storytelling, online meet-ups, amateur talent competition, bad dad joke competitions, and I know with all that free time to yourself that you’re just going to love the backwards compliment contest (see what I did there?). You can also learn how to throw axes and play Money Pyramid or Great Revival’s unique brand of Bingo.
Of course, there’s also music, which as we all know, the DB crew excels in. But it’s not just Dirtybird names on the lineup, either. They go out of their way to cultivate a diverse, sonically expansive roster of talent at all of their events, but especially at their Campouts where they have a lot more options and flexibility.
Here are five names to keep an eye out for at Dirtybird Campout West:
1. Honeycomb – One beatboxer to rule them all. After seeing Honeycomb put up a stunner of a show at Electric Forest this past summer, I’m absolutely sold on this guy’s talents. When I saw him in 2017, he was good, and also incredibly nice with really impressive stamina (we found him beatboxing to himself on our neighbor’s porch at about 5am after we saw him in the Forest nine hours early, also beatboxing). But this year he was a different animal altogether. A much more advanced animal. He brought out additional vocalists, rappers, and a doodad player who traded riffs with Honeycomb with extremely impressive results. It was the rowdiest show of the entire festival, and that’s saying something for a tiny show in the Forest.
2. Mark Ronson – Maker of perfect house party music since always. Mark Ronson has an ear for infectious pop music that transcends genres and forms a soundtrack you don’t ever want to end. Nowhere is this more evident than his 2007 record, Version, where he collaborated a with long list of performers to create a dynamic series of covers (See: Ol Dirty Bastard throwing down on Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic). I haven’t seen him live yet, but I can imagine a session of Ronson slinging records has got to be a winner.
3. Justin Jay – Captain of the good ship Fantastic Voyage and haver of the best hair. One of the Campout’s three showcases, an opportunity for producers to flex their curatorial muscles, Justin Jay put together a series of themed DJ sets punctuated by one of this own live sets, featuring a full backing band.
4. A-Trak – Five-time world champion DJ. Seeing A-Trak do a DJ set is like watching Renoir carve a sculpture, except a lot faster and arguably more sexy. Given the “Old skool hip-hop” theme of his set, expect a lot of clever transitions, scratching, and hits from the glory days. If you’re looking for more hip-hop, look no further than Counselor Claude’s hip-hop alter-ego Barclay Crenshaw.
5. Gorgon City – Purveyors of House featuring vocals that make it feel like you might be at church and that’s okay. Man, I hope GC plays on Sunday, because that would just be perfect. If you love house music, then I doubt I need to tell you anything about Gorgon City. Fresh off the release of a new record, the boys are on a touring warpath and should be poised to take Campout by storm.
If you compare the lineup of DB Campout against other festivals, you’ll notice it’s a little more lean than others. Don’t let it fool you, the festival is still jam-packed with music, but it’s also an indicator of the size of the festival. With attendance capped a lot lower than others, and without heeding to the festival industry mantra of always expanding, ever-growing, DB attendance is capped and held in the neighborhood of about 5,000. Easier to get around, more intimiate performances, more of a tight-knit community feel sound appealing to you? Yeah, me too. So I’ll see you in Modesto next month?
Full list of Games & Activities: HERE
Prepare for Campout: A List
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.