written by Nico Ramos
photos by Rinato Arts
“Lets go camping, I wanna go camping with you all night camping!” I kept singing this in my head as I packed my bags for the first edition of Dirtybird Campout East Coast. Dirtybird Campout has a well-deserved spot in my top festival list. In years past, Dirtybird Campout has taken place in California. Because of this I have not had the honor of attending any of the previous editions of Campout so when the East Coast edition was announced I was BEYOND excited. I have only heard amazing things about Dirtybird Campout and boy, were they all true! Dirtybird Campout is like taking everything you loved from your childhood summer camp experiences and combining them with a music festival.
The venue that Dirtybird Campout took place at could not have been more ideal. I pulled my little Kia Soul off the nice paved road and took a small journey down a seemingly endless dirt road through the woods of Forever Florida. I rolled my windows down to hear the sounds of crickets and other night creatures all around me and immediately felt in the camping zone. The summer camp vibes only felt stronger once you walked into the venue. You are instantly greeted by the Birdhouse Stage which is made to look like a rustic camp cabin.
Walking past the Birdhouse stage you see the iconic Camp Dirtybird sign and beyond here is where you will find the Bass Lodge which is the 2nd stage they had set up. This stage housed more of the bass heavy artists like EPROM, Ivy Lab, and Barclay Crenshaw to name a few. They also had a games field, volleyball court, craft area, canoeing area, and last but not least the Bunkhouse. The Bunkhouse is a smaller stage with bunk beds and picnic tables set up around it. Some of the activities that go on here include bingo, alligator wrestling, beatboxing competition, and yoga.
Just like the rest of Campout, there is always an activity going on here. Not only did Dirtybird have events, but the venue Forever Florida itself had ziplines and swamp buggy rides that campers could enjoy as well. There was something everywhere to partake in and keep you in that summer camp mood.
Whenever I hear about Dirtybird Campout, I have always heard positive things about the people there and how great the vibes were all around. And WOW that is an understatement! The vibes at Campout were AMAZING and boy were those positive vibes put to the test; Friday there was no music. Let me repeat that again… NO MUSIC at a music festival. Because of multiple noise complaints from the pre-party on Thursday night, Dirtybird Campout was told to shut down the gates and stop the festival on Friday when more campers were rolling in. One would naturally assume that the lack of music and no real solid information on when it would pick back up and that Camper morale would be low. But that could not be more far from the truth! Even though music was not going there was still so much to do!
After all this is part summer camp for adults! And there were activities for everyone they had the camp classics like water balloon toss, arts and crafts, archery, canoeing, dodgeball, and kickball. But they also had more unique activities like the Hyphy Hula Hoop Competition, Lap dance for your life (the winner got a lap dance from Father Claude himself), comedy shows, and bingo every night! Also, to top it all off a majority of the artists participate in the activities as well. Being able to not only see your favorite artists play amazing sets, but also to play a round of dodgeball or kickball with them is something else. I swear Claude had clones of himself because I saw him EVERYWHERE at almost every activity. The Music After a long battle to get the permits reinstated which involved calls from lawyers, governors, and supposedly even Pitbull! A quote from Dirtybird’s lawyer Leslie Zigel below explained the situation:
“At the 11th hour, Dirtybird Campout East reached out to Leslie Jose Zigel who together with his partner Joe Geller of Greenspoon Marder persuaded County officials to agree to a compromise in reducing the hours and decibel level of the music to allow the festival to go on, while being sensitive to the local community noise complaints.”
Dirtybird Campout was given the okay to continue music Saturday afternoon and you could feel the excitement in the air as Claude rode through the venue on a golf cart exclaiming that music is back on! The weekend kicked off at the Birdhouse with a flag raisin ceremony with Claude and a couple of the head counselors. After this concluded, Christian Martin took the stage to make up for his set that was supposed to happen Friday morning. Even with missing a day of music, the Dirtybird team managed to reschedule and fit as many artists within the new sound curfew given which was 7am-10pm.
I swear every artist I saw between Saturday and Sunday played their hearts out and the crowd LOVED IT. Everywhere I looked campers were smiling and dancing without a care in the world. One of my favorite sets of the weekend was from Sage Armstrong. His unique style of combining house and rap got the crowds energy high. I still cannot get over his remix of Both by Gucci Maine, mainly because I was not expecting to like the track as much as I did. As the night progressed I got to see sets from Fisher, Billy Kenny, MK, and a special Claude VonStroke & Walker & Royce set. Which Gave. Me. Life. They dropped classics like “Take Me To Your Leader” and of course a couple unknown tracks which got the crowd fired up. Even though music ended at 10pm the party didn’t stop. There was still camp activities like late night kickball and for the campers who still want to keep dancing there were multiple renegade sets going on in the campgrounds. Even some artists came out to play a couple sets in the campgrounds.
Sunday morning started up bright and early at 7am at the Birdhouse. Even on the last day both the Birdhouse and the Bass Lodge were stacked with artists like Justin Jay, EPROM, Barclay Crenshaw, Justin Martin, to name a few. One of my favorite sets of the day was from Justin Jay. His vibey sounds of house/live instruments/auto tuned vocals kept me and the crowd dancing and singing along to his tracks “Time”, “Can’t Hang”, and “Stuck Inside My Head”. Closing the event there was a special set titled “The Family Set” in which all the artists came together to do one giant b2b2b2b2b set. This was the perfect way to close campout and an unforgettable weekend!
Dirtybird Campout East Coast 2018 might not have been the perfect festival logistic wise… but it still took the spot as one of my favorite festivals. I am only more excited for next years edition of Dirtybird Campout: East Coast and will definitely make Dirtybird Campout: West Coast a priority on my 2018 festival line up. Please, do yourself a favor and make it to a Dirtybird Campout! You will not regret it!