This was originally posted on https://www.vibewithade.com/single-post/REVIEW-Dirtybird-Campout-East-2018 and has been edited for clarity.
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What’s is Dirtybird Campout?
Dirtybird East is the East coast version of Dirtybird Campout which began in Southern California back in 2015. It was located in St Cloud, FL (about an hour from Orlando). I wanted to go because Justin Martin is one of my top 5 favorite artists and I have been a fan of the Dirtybird label since they are from California. Also their philosophy is to remove the stuffiness of house and techno and make it fun as can be (check the Dirtybird twitter bio). I had also gone to the most recent west coast iteration of the festival and I was excited to learn more about the inaugural East Coast version. While it was originally not my intention to attend (considering it was on the other side of the country and logistics made it close to impossible), I had won a Trivia contest about Dirtybird history from a close knit group of friends in Arizona. As a safeguard so that the winner does not sell the ticket and to claim the ticket, I had to send a flight confirmation to the person running the contest. Lo and behold I purchased my flight and flew to the other side of the country on about 48 hours notice with absolutely no plans other than “uhhh I guess I’ll take an Uber and hit a Wal-Mart.”
I landed in Orlando with no plans and I didn’t know anyone in the area, I met this dude at the airport wearing a Will Clarke hat and became friends with him. Luckily, he knew some acquaintances that had two extra spots and we made it to the venue! We had early arrival so we picked up our wristbands from the box office and went inside the venue. The venue itself is an actual gator park and wildlife preserve where they do nature tours and summer activities. Upon walking in, I saw a patch of swamp that had a gator in it and as I inched closer I found out the hard way that some of the fences were electric (ouch). We set up our stuff and checked out the venue and it was so lush compared to the dust of the west coast edition.
As I walked in checking out the Bunkhouse (the games and activities Center), I stumbled into a familiar face and saw that Claude Vonstroke himself was getting a briefing from camp counselors about the game rules, venue set up, what do in case of emergency etc. I explored the venue some more and signed my games waiver and received my team color of Red and met with our squad leader and started an impromptu “R-E-D!” chant with my new team members. I went back to the campgrounds and made friends with my neighbors and wine bags started flowing plenty. Once late night hit, Claude got the party started with an exclusive deep set for the early arrival campers followed by another exclusive set by Seth Troxler. The stages speakers were powered by Void Acoustics from the UK and lemme tell you when I said Seth Troxler cranked those speakers to 11! The set ended at about 2:30am and I went back to the campgrounds and went to some renegade sets and even met an Australia kid whose golf cart had a flame thrower!
Once Friday rolled around I was pregaming at the campground hardcore before wandering into the venue and an eerie quiet was afoot. I heard from a member of the staff that there were noise complaints and the sound would be cut for the day as they figured out some solutions. While I was originally upset, I took this as an opportunity to check out some of the activities that I didn’t get to check out at West since my music schedule was so strict. I checked out the kayak races, navigated the obstacle course, and I saw Claude wrestling an alligator (guy in an gator costume) when the announcer said I was next. I went up on stage and lost but I was able to go backstage of the bunkhouse and help myself to some good beer as a consolation prize. I wandered back to the campground and on my way there stumbled into a renegade set with Mija and Ryan Forever playing. It was so awesome to see them again as I had just seen them two weeks prior at Bar Smith in Phoenix and I even took patron shots with them. As they finished I wandered with them a bit and saw Ardalan, who recognized me from Shady Park in Tempe. I called it a night early and geared up for Saturday.
I woke up Saturday and heard a faint noise and to my surprise the music was back on! I ran to the campground and saw Christian Martin opening up the Birdhouse. I heard from staff that strings were pulled and the CEO of Joox Music knew Pitbull’s lawyer and through his connections made it all the way up to Marco Rubio to get the music back on, although with a shorter end time of 10pm instead of 7am as originally planned. With all the set time confusions and shortened time it was difficult to keep track of set times, but it was awesome to see the DJs understand the circumstances and all share the decks leading to some impromptu b2bs and unlikely tandems, DJ Tree (Claude’s old dnb alias) vs Justin Martin anyone?
Sunday rolled around and I was able to find Benny Bridges and we headed to my favorite set of the weekend, Justin Jay. He recently released his new album “Home” and he was playing songs from the album while Benny himself improvised guitar licks and and a small group of fans were Fantastic Voyage sailor hats belted out hits such as “Stuck Inside My Head” and “Can’t Hang.” As it hit nightfall, they had the big game playing on a projector next to the Super Bowl… I mean Superb Owl Bar. 😉 Unfortunately my team lost but I wasn’t in bad spirits for long as the family set was about to kick off . The family set is basically every artist gets to play a song or two that is either their biggest hit or “trick up their sleeve” all consecutively. I remember Mija playing “Raingurl” by Yaeji while raindrops cooled down the crowd, Ciszak playing an edit of the Vengaboys “We Like to Party” and Justin Martin playing his Drum and Bass edit of his remix of Henry Krinkle’s “Stay”.
The weekend ended and I packed up and met up with the squad and unfortunately got stranded at the airport again since I had misread my plane ticket. I saw Justin Martin at the airport and gave him a big hug and told him I’d see him again at Shady Park in two weeks. With all the curveballs of being stranded, not having plans, and maybe even facing a cancellation, I had a blast and so did everyone else. No one’s spirits were soured and everyone displayed a spirit of resiliency and by the end of the weekend it truly felt like a sense of community and that the Dirtybird fam had truly overcome a great obstacle. As Counselor Claude said in his recap interview, “You can take our speakers and you can take our permit and you can even put us in jail but you can never take our spirit.”
Favorite Sets from The Weekend
Justin Jay ft Benny Bridges
Justin Jay played with his fellow band mate and former USC classmate Benny Bridges doing the guitar riffs and licks live with some improvisation
Standout track: “Can’t Hang” by Justin Jay
If you know, you know
Standout Track: “We like to Party” (ID edit) x The Vengaboys
Mija + Ryan Forever Renegade Party
Just around 40 people in a makeshift courtyard in between four RVs and under a rain tarp grooving with Amber and Ryan
Standout track: “Breakfast” by Le Le
Crew Love Showcase
Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, Pillowtalk, Nick Monaco
Got to go backstage and hang out with these guys for a bit and they had some of the grooviest house I’ve heard in a while
Standout track: “Freak Flag” by Nick Monaco
Special shoutout to all the renegade DJs and stages, someone even had a renegade that looked like a propeller plane! While we were all there united by the Dirtybird sound, it was awesome to explore the campgrounds and see what music different campers listened to. In one lap around the campgrounds, you could go to an indie dance party and listen to “Doses and Mimosas” by Cherub and keep walking and hear another set play “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode. In the face of cancellation, they were the ones responsible for keeping spirits high along with the staff, artists, and counselors.
Would you go again? Any advice for someone interested in going?
If you told me I would have to go again on 48 hours notice with no plans and get stranded in an airport and almost get canceled, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Both the west and east coast editions were some of the best festivals I’ve been to. There is truly something special about “summer camp” with house and techno and the festival being ran by the artists themselves which makes the feeling of love permeate the entire show.
While shuttles are offered from the Orlando airport, look into the app Turo for a cheap car rental, it will make all the difference.
Be aware you’re in the middle of a swamp! Drive carefully and don’t get afraid of a little mud “it’s not called clean bird after all”.
Prepare for weather! Florida weather changes quickly and often, I experienced a bright and sunny day go into a rainy mess towards the end of the night.
Do as many activities as you can! There’s nothing like being a kid again and doing tug of war, dodgeball, and crafting.
Don’t be shy, this festival is unique because “backstage” hardly exists and all the artists will be roaming the grounds ready to say hi to you or will even join you in the games. Also Dirtybird fans are some of the nicest people ever and people are quick to make friends.
First to Know