The Passion Collective

passion collective - A number of individuals working together with a compelling emotion or feeling

The Passion Collective.


col·lec·tive- a collective body; a gathering; a collection of extracts; a number of individuals working or acting together.

pas·sion- any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

pas·sion col·lec·tive- A number of individuals working or acting together with a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.

It was a November afternoon that I sat on the front porch of my local cafe and deeply thought about an idea; Nothing out of the ordinary as I did this often and much. I drank lukewarm coffee and discussed with some old acquaintances the idea of a group of young adults putting together a “Rolling-Stone” type magazine/website; To tell you the truth, many talented people laughed and shook off the offer, for that I am deeply saddened because they’re going to miss one hell of a ride. I proceeded to reach out to all different types of people from all different walks of life, many haven’t even met yet. That is the beauty of it. It’s as if I'm placing together the pieces of a puzzle, slowly but surely. Our generation is in need of something refreshing. Our brains will race and our eyes will quickly process what lies before us. What lies before us is The Passion Collective, a collective production founded in New York. It will be fueled by talent, hard-work, and most of all passion. It will only work if YOU contribute your piece of passion to the puzzle. Everyone is passionate about something. I, Zachary Franck have selected a group of unique individuals who all bring something to the table. From poets to journalists, photographers to bloggers, sports enthusiasts to hip-hop heads, I promise you that there is something for everyone. I truly believe in this and I believe in you. This project will stay true to it's name, always.Unlike other websites/magazines,The Passion Collective will actually make you think. As Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket, Take the ride”. Please join The Passion Collective as we all embark on this journey together; Why would you watch the puzzle being built when you can help build it!?

Summerdance 2015: The Magical Connection Between Lotus and Nelson Ledges

This summer has been filled with outstanding music and intrinsic experiences, from one memorable festival to the next. A number of bands and musicians have really stepped it up this year.  Lotus is one of those bands, delivering top-notch sets on most occasions.  They've continued to perform at a high level while playing shows across the entire country. The time has come for Lotus to return to Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Ohio for their annual headlining slot at Summerdance.
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Camp Bisco 13: The Disco Biscuits and Their Festival Have Entered a New Frontier

Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, I feel that I can properly sum up Camp Bisco 13.  It was undoubtedly one for the history books, an evolved version of the original vision that the Disco Biscuits had so many years ago.  From the expanded amenities to the upscale production, the seemingly original festival has taken another step in the right direction.

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Disc Jam: A Grassroots Festival That Is Here To Stay [2015 Review]

'The first festival of the summer always has this undeniable energy attached to it. It’s an even mix of anxiousness and excitement that fills the heart and mind with passion. It will always be there and it’ll never change; as the years go by, this feeling will remain the same. I don’t know if there’s a better festival than Disc Jam to ease fans into the season. The size, vibe, music, art and production are all top-notch for a festival of its size.  Every year, the Disc Jam team impresses me more and more. Tony Scavone seriously has something special that continues to grow organically while staying utterly original.'

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The New Deal Delivers Solid Run at BK Bowl as They Continue to Progress With New Drummer

The livetronica legends from Toronto returned to New York on May 29th and 30th with a pair of shows at Brooklyn Bowl. Plain and simple, it’s awesome to see the New Deal playing shows again. Many fans continue to complain about the departure of their original drummer Darren Shearer but I’m way past that. Founding members Jamie Shields and Dan Kurtz looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage. Their new drummer Joel Stouffer stayed in the pocket and laid down the bands rhythmic backbone as if he’d been doing it for years. Keyboard player Jamie Shields did what he does best; he lead the trio in and out of intricate electronica, heart pounding drum and bass, high energy house and spaced out trance. Over the course of two nights, they covered their entire spectrum of sound. When Darren left, he took his creative style and untouchable element with him. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that Shields and Kurtz should end the project they’ve worked on for nearly twenty years. I witnessed the pure emotion in their facial expressions, this is what they were put on earth to do and they know it. After all, the show must go on.

Since I saw them at Catskill Chill in September, the trio has undoubtedly stepped up their game. Originally Joel was performing with an all-electronic kit, which many people weren’t a fan of, myself included. As a drummer, I believe that that the action and tone of high-end acoustic drums cannot be recreated.  I was pleased to see that Joel added a real snare drum and cymbals because it truly made a difference. In my opinion, the crack of his snare drum and crisp sound of his hi-hats immediately improved his sound. The band walked on stage and wasted no time, they started Friday off with forty minutes of pure improvisation. The first night definitely had its moments; all three of them were having a great time and feeding off the energy of the crowd. They came out swinging with aggressive, hard-hitting house. It was fast-paced and in your face. Jamie Shields led the assault with insane keyboard work that never fails to blow me away. He truly is a one-of-a-kind player, he used his signature hand signals to weave the band in and out of improvisation. He looked pleased with Joel’s playing as they hit a few huge reads perfectly. Dan Kurtz was laying down bass lines that vibrated in your spine with resonance. It was a solid first set but it wasn’t the best I’ve seen from them, I took it for what it was and had fun. One thing is for sure; it had them warmed up and pumped up to deliver an awesome second set.

After Horizon Wireless laid down some hard-hitting techno during the set-break, the New Deal took the stage once more. The second set on Friday was better than the first, like most bands that jam, that’s usually the case. They slowed it down a bit and dove into some funky electronica grooves. Shields was creating so much sound with multiple layers on multiple keyboards. He is a musician that every fan of live music should see because his playing is ridiculously unique. I watched the drums closely and was satisfied by Stouffers patience and delivery. He didn’t overplay and stayed on point with very few mistakes. During the second set, the trio locked in for extended periods of time, they looked very comfortable together. Their progression since Catskill Chill was undoubtedly evident. Fans both old and new were seriously getting down at some points in the second set. I ran into many people who had never seen them before so they had a fresh perspective. At the same time, I ran into older fans that were unable to stop comparing them to their original sound. Me, I kept an open mind throughout the night and had a good time. The first night was solid but the second night is what left a lasting impression on me.

Photo by Scott Harris

Photo by Scott Harris

On Saturday, the band was warmed up and ready to bring the noise. I could sense that they wanted to prove themselves to the critics and they did just that. Their dynamics were on point with natural exploration and synchronized patience. The vibe on stage was much more relaxed yet they continued to push themselves to new frontiers. From ambient down-tempo filled with blissful melodies to psychedelic tribal rhythms with jungle elements. Halfway through the first set on Saturday, I knew that I was enjoying the show better than Friday. Everything just clicked a little bit more than the previous night. The band was hitting their spots with ease and the grooves were extremely deep-rooted. At some points, I had an enormous grin stretched across my face. During a massive ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ jam, I said to my friend “the New Deal is back”, he nodded his head in agreement. Saturday night was the best show that I’ve seen from them in five years, hands down. Jamie Shields seemed to be incredibly pleased with his band mates’ playing. Dan Kurtz had his power-stance locked in for the majority of the night. Joel Stouffer remained a constant metronome, keeping the trio in almost perfect time during the second set. It left me yearning for more; I am now really looking forward to seeing them again this summer. I can only imagine how tight they’ll be in another year.

The New Deal is only going to keep getting better; their improvisation will continue to get tighter. It takes a lot of time and a ton of work to be a successful band that jams as much as they do. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and agree that Darren Shearer was a huge part in the foundation of this band. His style and skill helped build the New Deal up to what it is today, that is an absolute fact. Do I feel that he is a more creative drummer than Joel? Yes. Do I believe that his sound fit the New Deal better? Maybe. Do I think that it’s impossible to replace Darren? No. The fact of the matter is that it’s very doable and is being done. It’s completely normal to hear the outpour of skewed opinions and overcritical comments. That’s what happens when a band is forced to replace a founding member; it’s happened before and it will happen again. Anybody in the live music scene is familiar with both the Disco Biscuits and Lotus. They are two of the biggest bands in the revolving circuit of livetronica and have been for years. Both of them were given no choice but to replace their original drummers – just like the New Deal. At first, many old fans were skeptical about the changes because of their emotional attachment to those members. It’s completely understandable; both drummers have helped deliver some of the best memories that those fans have ever experienced. The thing is, both the Disco Biscuits and Lotus have carried on and continue to deliver new memorable experiences to fans. This doesn’t change the fact that people miss Sam Altman (Disco Biscuits) and Steve Clemens (Lotus) – there's no doubt that die-hard fans will remember them forever. The same exact thing goes for the New Deal. Joel Stouffer will never be able to recreate Darren Shearer's sound, nobody can. All he can do is keep playing and keep progressing, which he has been doing. Jamie Shields is a masterful musician with a music IQ that's as high as anyone in the scene. I really don’t think that he would hire a drummer that wasn’t fit to play with the New Deal. I know Joel played with Dan Kurtz in his other band; it obviously had something to do with him joining the New Deal. That’s not all though, Joel is one of the only drummers to sit-in for Darren when he broke his hand in 2011. When Darren refused to continue playing, Jamie and Dan knew that he would be the perfect replacement. The rest is pretty much history. The Brooklyn Bowl run was an indicator of things to come; they’re having a ton of fun and are ready to keep the New Deal alive. Instead of looking at the past, the band has decided to gaze into the future, and so have I.

Disc Jam Presents a Stacked Lineup at an Awesome New Venue

Every summer, more and more music festivals sprout up all over the country. Some festivals build a lasting brand that continuously grows; others often fade away after a year or two. Disc Jam is one of the festivals that is here is to stay. The festival has continued to grow with a positive and professional reputation. Started by die-hard music fan Tony Scavone, this will be the festival’s 5th year in the circuit.

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Another Step in the Evolution of Sound [Lotus - Charlottesville, VA - April 17 & 18, 2015]

Words by Leo A. Jennings IV

 

The Jefferson Theater - April 17th 

            My most recent sojourn to see what I consider to be the most fulfilling band in the world brought me to the absolutely beautiful town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Home to the University of Virginia, the town's rolling hills and unique vibe are a near perfect setting for two nights of amazing live music. From the quirky and cool shops to the awesome pizza pubs that were open late into the night, Charlottesville has a lot to offer for the live music experience, not to mention the kind and helpful local population. The town's classic architecture and historical landmarks such as Monticello create a very nostalgic feel in a place you can tell is evolving with the times as well.

 

            After getting organized and enjoying the hotel and company of good friends made on the road, we made our way over to the Jefferson to prepare for an evening with Lotus. This was one of few shows I have attended without an opener, making for a longer set and usually held in a more intimate venue. Indeed, the Jefferson was quite intimate and even as the night was in full swing, plenty of space was left to move around freely. The true highlight, for me, was seeing so many of the friends I have made because of Lotus. For a short time, I stood by the door and hugged one after the other as I spotted them amongst the flow of incoming fans.

 

            Lucid Awakening, the show opener, was an absolute perfect way to open the night up. This song has a lilting guitar melody and high speed rhythm with a very positive feel, and in my opinion, is one of Lotus's best openers. Break Build Burn was to follow, which to this day is my favorite track off of the Build album. Simply put, a FUN song. L'immeuble followed, which is one of my favorite tracks from Lotus that ties several elements of the band's sound together. This segued into One Last Hurrah, usually a standalone song in the live setting. However, this was the first time throughout the weekend I noticed the band's next step in their evolution. Their more minimalistic, but still full sounding approach to jamming, started to make itself apparent. With a more harmony focused jam out of L'immeuble, One Last Hurrah was executed perfectly and still remains one of my favorites to see live. Two fan favorites were served up and segued next, Spaghetti>Comptroller. This was the deepest Spaghetti I have witnessed in a live setting, with a deep, intense jam leading into Comptroller, a personal favorite of a very good friend. Kalea followed up. Several of my friends know not to even approach me during a live Kalea. A complete tear jerker and a tune I tie closely with very resounding memories, it did not disappoint as my emotions ran rampant in time with the music. As if the band knew I needed to soothe myself a little bit and dance it off, Intro to a Cell graced our ears upon the closing of Kalea, and, as usual, the Intro turned into a wild dance party. The pattern forming of Intro to a Cell being played at some of my favorite shows is a common epidemic amongst Lotus diehards, although a complete cure has yet to be found.

 

            After a short set break, and a drink refill, the new hit Tarot opened up the rest of the night's journey. When Lotus starts playing new songs, I refuse to listen to them until I see them live. Tarot was worth the wait, to say the least. A three song segue that was nothing short of amazing followed. Travel, one of my personal favorites, started it off, going into a major key jam, which is my favorite format for this song. It led straight into Zelda, a cover which I have witnessed umpteen times live, but of which I never tire. This particular Zelda cover was something special. Seeing this extended jam riddled with improv after the main themes, it's very clear that Lotus can make a cover their own. The heroic Zelda jam led into a personal favorite -- Soma, a very old track in the band's repertoire. Lotus has been reviving several previously shelved tracks in the live setting, and Soma has been one of my absolute favorites for years. Completely blown away since seeing this live in Columbus at the most recent Newport Theater show, I was not complaining in the least about hearing it again. Soma is an extremely blissful song with a melody that gives me the chills every time I hear it. A well chosen set of segued songs were to close out the second set, starting with Lead Pipe. Lead Pipe is typically used as a launchpad to fluid and long set lists these days, and Luke Miller, once again, did not disappoint. Lead pipe found itself with some cool and calm vocoder work, and a rocking jam straight into fan favorite Sunrain, an amazing composition in its own right. However, the jam out of Sunrain was something unlike I have ever heard out of Lotus. An extremely minimalistic jam grew out of the main melody, dominated by the percussion work of Chuck Morris and Mike Greenfield. Backed by ambient synth echoes and blips of delayed guitar from Mike Rempel, this was one of the most organic improvisational jams I have heard from any group to date. While sticking to the original feel of the song, they made one of their oldest hits sound like something completely new, while still reaching back to their roots. This ambient jam was one of the most unique things I have witnessed in a long career of live music attendance, and will stick out as such for years and years to come. This jam melded seamlessly into funky favorite Bubonic Tonic, marked by especially fancy synth work by Luke Miller and slick guitar play from Rempel. The set was closed out with a cool jam back into Sunrain, leaving the crowd blissfully charged for a beautiful encore.

Photo by Justin Ciccone

Photo by Justin Ciccone

 

            Rarity, crowd pleaser, fan favorite, many monikers may grace it; Colorado is Lotus's undisputed classic slow jam. An unexpected hit to witness on this weekend, I swayed, vibed, and cried just as I did almost two years ago when I last saw this performed at Mr. Small's in Pittsburgh. Never to leave its crowd unfulfilled, Lotus closed with Wax -- odd for a closer, but leaving us in raw anticipation for night two.

 

nTelos Wireless Pavilion - April 18th

 

            Being a little bit older (27) has its perks. I have a mental alarm clock that wakes me up at 7 AM if nothing else does. This means I have a tendency to be on time. After night one of Lotus, I woke up at 7 AM feeling somehow refreshed, reloaded, and damn near ready to get to the show. After a long day of exploring Charlottesville a little bit more, dining on local cuisine, and enjoying the day with some amazing friends, it was time to go to the end of the walkway, where the nTelos Pavilion lies.

 

            Lax security aside, this was one of the most aesthetically and acoustically pleasing venues I've had the pleasure of attending since I have been to Red Rocks in Colorado. A large, open grassy space leading into the covered venue was a second-to-none space to host a Lotus show. I was very impressed, and definitely reassured that Virginia is a close second to Ohio to catch Lotus in a live setting.

 

            This was not the first time I had seen a split show with Lotus. Conspirator warmed up last year at the Royal Oak Theater, and they played a hell of a set to open up the night. Marc Brownstein really knows how to have a good time, it seems. Returning to the 18th of this year, I expected The New Deal to leave just as good an impression. They certainly did not disappoint. The band's signature sound resonated well throughout the venue, and had the crowd moving early on as the sun went down over Charlottesville. I started listening to The New Deal just as they were going on their previous hiatus, and I was left feeling stimulated and ready to really get down. As their killer set came to a close, I refilled my beverage and prepared for another amazing night of Lotus.

 

Photo by Justin Ciccone

Photo by Justin Ciccone

            One of the band's most well known tunes, Spiritualize, opened up the second night. The band's maturing sound and unparalleled musicianship were really showing on the 18th. A wide open jam into Tip of the Tongue could prove that no better. Always a funky dance party, Tip did not fail to please even us diehards who have heard it more times than we can count. Jesse's bass maneuvers on this song's jam have been making me boogie my ass off when I've seen it live recently; Chuck also sticks out on percussion here. Basin to Benin, a track recently introduced to live set lists and set to be on the band's next album came next and did not let us down at all. As with Tarot, I avoided listening to this song until I was able to witness it in a live setting. I feel like the band gets a true "road test" out of a fan this way. A pulsing, funky jam littered with horn melodies and driving guitar rhythms, this track has put me in high anticipation of Lotus's next full length release. Expired Slang, a favorite amongst diehards, was next and was absolutely mind-blowing. The band displayed an extreme sense of harmony while maintaining an extremely intense jam. No band member was taking a back seat to another and this particular performance has gone down as yet another standout memory from Lotus. Greet the Mind crept its way into our ears next. this track is a favorite amongst Lotus fans old and new, with a very funky intro and insanely intense jam. After the initial funk, the infamous accelerando kicked in, and was especially impressive this time around. It seems every time I see this song live, the jam goes to a place higher then before. The set closer was In an Outline, off of the self-titled album. This song has continued to grow on me the more I see it live. The epic, happy, major-keyed climax continues to be irresistible. Thus, the first set had come to a close, and energy was bided to use for the rest of the night.

Photo by Justin Ciccone

Photo by Justin Ciccone

 

            A cover of The Traitor by Herbie Hancock kicked off the second set, with a sit-in from Jamie Shields of The New Deal. The Traitor is an exceptionally fun piece, written in the mid-70's at the height of Herbie's funk/jazz fusion experimentation, which included a wide display of the abilities of the ARP synthesizers available at the time. Jamie blended in with the band perfectly, not sticking out too much at all and sitting perfectly in the groove. Lotus has traditionally been resistant to sit-ins until the past couple of years, but the wait has been well worth it. From horn sections to Mr. Shields, the band can now meld very comfortably with musicians from other settings. Bush Pilot was presented next. Although I seem to hear it at every other show, I really never grow tired of it. I feel as if not every song should be a jam fest, and this track proves to be a perfectly cool hand to throw on the table. Reeling off the minor scale outro of Bush Pilot, It's All Clear to Me Now echoed throughout the pavilion. Mike Rempel's guitar work really stuck out to me on this particular song, and he almost seemed to be leading the entire band at points, although Mike Greenfield's unbelievable work on the kit was truly the driving force here. Tightly grouped cymbal flams and tom rolls melded with a continuous beautiful percussive pulse highlighted several tracks this weekend, this one especially apparent. After a long stretch of heavenly instrumentation, the long jam began to hint at some samples that sounded something akin to vomiting aliens, which could only mean 128. Surely enough, 128 was broken into without a hitch, and kept the whole crowd moving throughout. After an epic jam, another "cooler", The Surf, graced our ears. The common Lotus crowd seems split on their opinion of this song, but I've always been partial, having witnessed it at my first show. The calm of the jam turned out to be a perfect preparatory song for one of my favorite covers, Inspector Norse. Musically a pretty simple song from Norwegian producer Todd Terje, Lotus really makes it fun and throws a cool improvisational jam into the track, highlighted by bouncy synths from Luke and virtuosic lead guitar work from Rempel, leading to a crowd dancing as ecstatically as they had all weekend. Norse led itself back into Spiritualize, making the whole Lotus performance one giant sandwich and really tying the night together, the song itself being both a functional opener and closer. Never to leave its crowd hungry, the band appeared for one last tune, Gilded Age, and absolutely made the most of it. The last non-festival show of the tour allowed this to be the perfect closer, and Rempel really took the closing solo to new heights, refreshing my ever present love for this song.

Photo By Justin Ciccone

Photo By Justin Ciccone

 

            The rest of the night was spent amongst good friends, both old and new, which has come to be the true highlight of seeing Lotus live. Of course, the music is what brings us all together, and one cannot experience one without the other, thus creating a beautiful trinity of an experience for each fan. As for the band itself, they are firing on all cylinders. A continuous evolution in sound is what attracted me to Lotus in the first place, and from the Germination era to now, the Gilded Age, the band continues to show a constant evolutionary understanding of synchronicity amongst themselves. My best recommendation is to get out and see Lotus live as soon as you can, and make it a regular habit. The constant evolution in their sound, while not always apparent, is always present.

 

The Disco Biscuits; Bisco Inferno & Their Return To Red Rocks

It’s that time of the year again, when the seasons change and winter turns to spring. The snow melts and the sun shines as the sky becomes blue and the trees become green. In Colorado, spring means gorgeous weather, new crop and Red Rocks season. Every band in the country dreams of playing Red Rocks at some point during their career, it’s arguably the greatest outdoor venue in the United States. There is one show taking place this year that really stands out to most everyone who loves live music. The Disco Biscuits are returning to Red Rocks. After not playing the venue last year, the band will be throwing down a three set show on the third night of their four-night Bisco Inferno run. For the Disco Biscuits and their fans, Bisco Inferno has become an every year staple. Although it may change from year to year, you can always count on Bisco Inferno happening. Always.

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Cleveland Rocks, Lotus Style

Cleveland Rocks, Lotus Style

Cleveland has constantly demanded good live music. Between a history of hosting legendary acts (i.e. Pink Floyd), to producing amazing talent (no references needed), to being home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is a staple on the tour circuit, no matter which way you slice it.

 

Even with these daunting precedents, Lotus came to town to tear the roof down, and they executed their task this past Sunday.  Still reeling from an absolutely amazing night in Columbus, I entered the House of Blues with plenty of butterflies trying to escape my gut. 

 

 

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The Disco Biscuits Deliver A Solid Three-Night Run In Philly

The Disco Biscuits did it again; they threw down a solid three-night run in their hometown of Philadelphia. Back to the E factory, I was in attendance for both Friday and Saturday. There's a certain vibe at a Biscuits show in Philly, it's unlike any other show you'll ever attend. From the pre-show cheese steaks to the infinite amount of circle logos, the Disco Biscuits are highly praised in the City of Brotherly love. The band has become a staple to the Philadelphia music community and it definitely shows, they created an entire scene. Twenty years have gone by since they were that college band covering Phish at house parties and a lot has changed. At the same time, a lot has stayed the same. They may have switched drummers and tweaked their sound a bit but they're still the same old Biscuits. Some of the same fans that were seeing them twenty years ago in frat house basements were posted up at the Electric Factory, waiting to see their boys blow the minds of the younger generation. They did just that.

 

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The Disco Biscuits in 2014

Over the years The Disco Biscuits have undoubtedly carved their own path through the live music scene, from their early days of playing frat-houses at the University of Pennsylvania all the way to headlining packed venues and festivals. But regardless of where they are at in their career, one thing has always been true about the jamtronica band from Philly--they have always done things their own way, and many would say that they have connected the jam-band scene and the electronic dance scene better than any band that plays live music.

Their sound crosses all boundaries, when it comes to the word 'genre', and the fan base shows it. They have been on and off the road for nineteen years and seem to have again found their balance. 2014 has already proven to be a great year for the band, even during recent news that their festival, 'Camp Bisco' is taking a year off. They started on a high-note playing a packed New Years Eve show at the theatre of Madison Square Garden, which left their fans buzzing. And they definitely brought that energy to Colorado for their four-night 'Winter Inferno' run. They started it off with a two-night stand at the Ogden Theatre in Denver and ended it with a surprise Tractorbeam show in Boulder. It was some of their best playing in recent years. The band was clicking again and everybody felt the chemistry. It was only right that they kept the ball rolling with a three-night Electric Factory run in their hometown of Philadelphia.

First off, The Disco Biscuits haven't played there since 2009, which is totally out of character for them, considering they have played the E-factory more than any other band in the history of the venue. Like I said, it was only right and man was I right about that. You could feel the hometown love from the moment they stepped on stage the first night. The room was exploding with energy the entire run, especially the last two nights. For me personally, those two shows were some of the best music I've seen in the past four years, hands down. Everybody was so happy; The Disco Biscuits were so happy. They have really found their groove again. That's why their fans were so disappointed with the recent announcement that the biscuits' festival 'Camp Bisco' is on hiatus. Some of their fans believe that it's a good thing and the festival needs to change, others are simply upset that they won't be seeing six sets of biscuits this summer (not at Camp Bisco, at least).

Fortunately, The Disco Biscuits know that their fan-base is counting on them to play other festivals this summer, particularly now that Camp has been cancelled. The band has already announced that they will be headlining 'Mcdowell Mountain Fest' in Arizona and ‘Gathering of The Vibes’ in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Everybody was pretty surprised about the AZ announcement, while shocked and excited about GOTV. The Disco Biscuits and ‘Gathering of The Vibes’ have a very special set in store for all of their fans: The Disco Biscuits with Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann (The Grateful Dead/Rhythm Devils). Nobody really knows what exactly they're going to play, but it will most definitely be special and unmatched, so special and unmatched that even Rolling Stone wrote an article about the specific set (see below)! It's the second time this month that the popular music publication has mentioned The Disco Biscuits. The magazine mentioned them at number twenty-six in its '100 most important people in EDM' list, and the article went on to talk about how much the band has done for the scene and how important ‘Camp Bisco’ has been over the years. The festival really bridged the gap between the jam-band and EDM scenes. Anyway, ‘Camp Bisco’ may not be around this summer but the Disco Biscuits aren't going anywhere, that's for sure. I think we can all count on them announcing a few more festival slots this summer. I sure hope so, at least.

Camp Bisco 12

The sun is slowly making its way into an overcast sky, mist slowly rises off the sacred ground below. Headlights line the roads for as far as you can see, they are at a stand-still, waiting. You can hear the excitement amongst the anxious voices that surround you, everyone is exhausted yet nobody seems able to sleep. Empty beer cans and cigarette butts are scattered along-side the thousands of cars in line. At this point it's 6 a.m. and most people have been waiting for over 6 hours. Cars slowly inch their way forward, barely moving at the pace of a turtle. But why are there thousands of people here? Why are they lined along these back-roads in upstate New York? What are they waiting for?

Yes, there is an answer to these questions and if you're reading this, I'd imagine that you already know it.

CAMP BISCO!

I've been in attendance for the past three years and this year was no different. Little did I know how different this year would really be. This year was the best and worst Camp Bisco that I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. It definitely did not have the same vibe as the first year I stepped foot onto the sacred ground of ILCC, which was in 2010. I knew this year was going to be special, for some reason I felt it in my heart as I was packing up my festival gear. My friend who drove up from our hometown of Warwick, NY didn't get off work until 10 p.m. so unfortunately we got a late start. Once we reached the line we knew we were screwed. I was on the phone with the rest of my crew and figured out that they were approximately 3 miles ahead of us. In 'waiting in the camp bisco line' terms that translated to about 6 hours +, my two friends and I did not want to wait 6 more hours. We had to make a decision, a tough moral decision at that; Do we wait in line for 6 more hours and not camp with our crew? or Do we drive 3 miles in the opposite lane, cutting thousands of cars filled with patrons just like us? My friend called again, "Yo man we're about to make the turn onto the main road to the gate, it's now or never". We didn't wait a minute longer, I told my friend to gun it and make sure not to run anyone over or crash, looking back I laugh while feeling like a total asshole. We were flying past cars on our right, along with people carrying coolers and camping gear toward the front of the line. My phone rings again, "Yo I'm in the road waving my arms, can you see me yet!?". At this point we were driving pretty fast with our fingers crossed that we don't see a police car, people were yelling some nasty things at us and I don't blame them. Let me dedicate this next sentence to anyone that I cut in line, I am truly sorry and hope it didn't ruin your Camp Bisco. With that being said, we went speeding over a hill to see my friend waving his arms in the distance, my ten car crew had left a space for us to pull right back into the line. We cut out about 6 hours of waiting doing so, I was so grateful at that moment. I wasn't even through the gates yet and my emotions were flying high. Once they put that wristband on me (it wasn't red again!) I had a sudden burst of energy. The kind staff searched our ten car party and found nothing, we pulled into our site and quickly setup. By this time, it was about 7 a.m. and everyone was exhausted, some slept while others (like myself) flipped through the festival guide circling the artists that I planned on seeing in the upcoming hours that followed.

Day 1:

Most of my crew were awake by noon, we filled our camelbacks and loaded up on party favors, our day was about to start. Because of the new setup (that was horrible) this year took a little bit getting used to but no matter how many times I went through them, I couldn't get used to the absurd amount of security checkpoints and irrational security. I understand that the festival has to do what they have to do but it just didn't feel like Camp Bisco, until the music started, that is. Unfortunately I missed Twiddle, I always enjoy them, they're a good band. The first artist I got to see was Cherub, I've had the pleasure of seeing them a few times and they're always fun. My good friend, John is also pretty close to them so it's not rare for their music to be in rotation in my group of friends. This year was big for them, they got a main stage set and special guest David Murphy of STS9 joined them on stage for their last songs. From Cherub I navigated myself to the B.I.G. tent to catch the UK duo, Koan Sound. They were everything I expected them to be, the tent quickly turned to a mud-pit as the crowd danced harder with every drop. I actually witnessed an individual rolling around in the mud, he looked like he was having a blast so I let him be. After that heavy dub throw-down I needed something that I could chill and vibe to, Umphrey's McGee was exactly that. It was my first time seeing them and was disappointed I was unable to see their light-show because of an early set. They were playing well but once the members of The Disco Biscuits joined them on stage, everybody went crazy! Playing a joint rendition of 'Home Again' there were smiles as far as the eye could see. It was a good set but still not quite what I was looking for. On the opposite stage STS9 began playing, I've seen them a good amount of times, I feel like it's hit or miss with them now-a-days. Again they played a good, solid set; brought out the horns, Murph was rockin', the visuals were cool. They played some of their classics along with songs off their newer album. Once they finished their set, everyone re-focused their attention to the stage that Umphrey's was on, The Disco Biscuits were about to take the stage. The moment I was waiting for since their three sets on NYE in NYC. They took the stage and the crowd erupted, biscuit-heads from all over the country, all in one place, for one band. They opened with their classic 7/11 and we all cheered, Barber yelled the lyrics into the microphone "I'm gonna go out and jam, i'm gonna go out and party, I got a brand new mission, so bring your ass to the party". And that is exactly what every single person in that crowd did. We all brought our ass to the party that night. Their set left everyone yearning for more, if we only knew what the next day would bring. After the Disco Biscuits I went back to my campsite, I was so exhausted from the night before that I actually passed out and missed the late-nights which is extremely rare for me. I didn't let that happen again for the rest of the weekend, I told myself I'd see the sunrise the next two nights and I did.

 

Day 2:

I woke up well-rested and ready to party and party is what I did. I hung back at the campsite with my crew for most of the day and was pretty lit by the time that the Biscuits came on for their first set. They played incredible, they all looked so happy, this was their time. This set included classics like 42, Helicopters and House Dog Party Favor. I'm actually listening to the specific set as I write this, it truly was an amazing performance and portrayal of the bands' musical ability. The Disco Biscuits Friday sets were truly bliss, I ran into so many great friends and everyone was so happy.

 Most fans of The Disco Biscuits hate on Bassnectar, I'm not one of them. Bassnectar threw down the best set I've ever seen him throw down in my life and easily the best he's ever played at Camp Bisco. It was absolutely massive and there were no technical difficulties, anybody who has been to Camp the past few years knows about Nectar and his Camp Bisco curse. No sign of the curse this year though, as me and my crew piled in between the sound towers, we were ready. I was surrounded by BNF and as somebody who reps the Biscuits I still felt right at home. His set was full of throwbacks from 2010, I really enjoyed it. Bassnectar isn't just a musical show, it's a full experience, he truly brings your mind and senses on an adventure.

After his set most of my crew went back to our site, I did as well, just to fill my camelback, I ran straight back to catch the last Biscuits set of the night. Bassnectar and the Disco Biscuits had planned on doing a multi-stage mix of 'Killing In The Name Of', Bass ended with it and the Biscuits started with it. It didn't really work out haha. This set included an amazing Great Abyss along with Spacebirdmatingcall and Lunar Pursuit. By that time of the night I was feeling good, real good. The Biscuits were done playing, there was still a whole night ahead of us. Alot of the people I was with wanted to check out Destroid and I don't know if anything could've prepared me for that experience. Upon entering the B.I.G. tent I spent a few minutes laughing hysterically at the numerous people slipping and falling in the mud. Inside that tent, I literally felt like I was on another planet, a planet filled with aliens and mud. I had to put in ear-plugs because of how loud the bass was, probably the heaviest music I've witnessed since I was in the hardcore music scene at age 16.

After that very odd yet unique experience, Lotus was exactly what my body and soul needed. Opening with a fifteen-minute Flower Sermon, it was the best Lotus set that I've had the pleasure of groovin' to. Jessie Miller of Lotus had the quote of the night, "You see this (holds up his guitar) this is what we used to call an axe, to chop away all that bullshit and play real music". All of the Lotus fans went crazy after that, the band did as well. Even with some technical difficulties in the midst of their set (the lighting director of Baauer unplugging the wrong chord) they remained tight. Mike Greenfield and Chuck Morris performed a tremendous on-the-spot percussion solo. One that I will not forget anytime soon. The solo not only saved the bands' night but it proved to me that Lotus is one of the best jamtronica bands in the scene. They brought the ideal late-night set to the patrons of Camp Bisco; They made Lotus fans proud to be Lotus fans.

A lot of people joined the masses exiting the concert area, some headed back to their campsites while others rushed to get headphones at the silent disco. My friends and I headed straight to the silent disco, one of my favorite attributes at a music festival. By the time we arrived Gramatik's side project 'Exmag' was finishing up, I would have loved to catch their set. We went there to catch one act specifically, Schlang. For those of you who don't know who or what 'Schlang' is, I'll explain. Schlang is a project put together by two amazingly talented producers, Space Jesus and Supersillyus. They got the sunrise set, one of the best slots you can get at a festival. I had never seen Schlang, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Their set truly blew my mind, it was somewhat like an experience put on by the great Simon Posford. The visuals at the silent disco stage were a huge step up from the past couple of years I've been at camp. As the sun slowly made its way into the overcast sky, raindrops began to fall, it was truly a magical experience. In my humble opinion, It was one of the best sets of the weekend. If you enjoy Shpongle or Ott then you should definitely check out Schlang. In the words of Space Jesus, "Lets get trippy ya'll". My mind was officially blown after that set, it was 6 a.m. and we walked back to our campsite as raindrops fell above us. None of us could sleep so we spoke about all the amazing sets we had seen that day, what a spectacular array of live music.

Day 3:

The third and final day of Camp Bisco 12 was definitely a strange day. I had seen fist-fights break out, tents get slashed and my friend's back-windshield got shattered, for no reason. Once the third day rolled around I was starting to have mixed emotions about my favorite festival, Camp Bisco. There was still a whole day left of music so my crew and I insisted to each other that we had to make the best of it. We cooked up some food and started drinking, laughter filled the air and smiles were everywhere. My friend walked up to our site with some bad news, "The main-stage is sinking so they cancelled music until further notice". I spent most of the day meeting new people and bouncing around the vendors, until the Disco Biscuits came on. The Disco Biscuits played one of the most amazing day sets that I've ever had the pleasure of being a part of. They played a couple of my favorite songs; Svengali, Magellan and Strobelights & Martinis to name a few. To many biscuit-heads this was the best set of the weekend, it left everyone craving for the next two sets, wondering what they were going to break out. Unfortunately because of the main-stage fiasco I missed out on a few sets that I really would've loved to see, Break Science being the main one. The biscuits had a few more tricks up their sleeves, they had everyone moving during their second set of the day. My favorite jam of the weekend was played during the second set on Sunday; Story Of The World> Rock Candy> Tricycle > Orch Theme> Story Of The World. Along with this set having my favorite segment of the weekend they also opened with M.E.M.P.H.I.S. and everyone loves a M.E.M.P.H.I.S. opener! The jams in and out of Story Of The World were amazing, one of my favorites to date. I intended on catching Gramatik play his set in the tent but because of the re-scheduling he overlapped with The Disco Biscuits, I only got to catch 20 minutes of his set unfortunately. From what I saw it was extremely groovy and he dug into the crates, playing a lot of his older tracks. I love when he plays with his guitarist, you can't go wrong with improv guitar over his funky-fresh, hip-hop styled beats. The last Disco Biscuits set of the weekend is usually always a very special one, this one was no different. They opened with a twenty-minute Run Like Hell moving swiftly into one of my personal favorites, Little Shimmy in a Conga Line. I was in a pure state of bliss while they played Mindless Dribble into Munchkin Invasion, the crowd jumped around and sung along with the band screaming "We come from the city, We come from the jungle!". They re-visited Run Like Hell and absolutely killed it, I personally believe the Munchkin sandwich was the best part of the set though. The band played Jamillia>Tempest right back into Munchkin Invasion for the closer, some laughed and some cried but every biscuit-head in that field was smiling. Saturday was absolutely priceless, without a doubt some of the best Biscuits' sets that I have ever seen.

Catskill Chill 2013

For many, September indicates that festival season has come to a close and summer quickly fades as autumn approaches fast. One particular music festival gave many a last chance to see some of the best live music in the scene. During the first weekend of September, Catskill Chill returned to the scenic Camp Minglewood in Hancock, New York for its fourth year in a row. Although it was my first time in attendance, I knew right away that this festival wasn't ordinary; I knew that it was something special.

Between the music, people, venue and vibes, Catskill Chill established itself as a community - offering a  unique, un-matched energy that can't be found anywhere else. The lineup offered a wide array of talented artists and bands, obviously put together by music-lovers. From Lotus to Lettuce and Brothers Past to The Meter Men, there was something for everyone. The Chill brought together such an amazing group of people, so many friends both old and new. The French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts is an absolutely incredible venue for a music-festival; It was large enough to have privacy but small enough to feel like a community. Bunkhouses and cabins are such unique features that everyone should experience at least once in their life. Mist slowly rose off the lake and created a picturesque memory that has been instilled in my mind since. For many, it was the last festival of the summer, the positive vibes and high energy proved this to be true. There were smiling faces and soulful music around every corner, a combination that can make even the coldest hearts feel warm.

Catskill Chill put together a lineup with deep roots in funk and jam but didn't forget about the electronic side of things either. The best funk performances of the weekend go to Lettuce and The Meter Men although The Motet brought an awesome set with funky Grateful Dead covers. Lettuce blew me away with their professionalism and set-list, which was packed with a wide array of genres - both old and new. They really got the crowd going when they crushed a few Jay-Z covers, nobody expected that. Adam Deitch is one of the best drummers in the scene right now, nobody can match the sound he gets from his set. The Meter Men, put together by legendary funk musicians out of New Orleans featured Paige McConnell of Phish on the piano/keyboards. They proved to the crowd why they were some of the best musicians on stage that weekend and did a good job of letting everyone get the spotlight, especially when they brought out Bobby Paltauf - an extraordinary, young guitarist who will soon be a household name. The Motet performed a great set that many patrons enjoyed, combining both funk and jam, they played revitalized Grateful Dead songs with funky twists throughout.

When it came down to the jam/jamtronica side of things, the festival was definitely not lacking. Lotus played an incredible set to start things off on Friday; When they played the opening riff of 'Flower Sermon', the crowd literally erupted, very cool thing to see from the back. Their set-list was definitely catered to their die-hard fans, playing 'Mikesnack' and a 'Wax' - 'Tip of the Tongue' - 'Wax' segment to close out the set; Lotus was planning on playing 'Colorado' as their last song but unfortunately didn't have enough time left in their set. It was hard for other acts to match the energy that they brought to the table, they rarely ever fall out of the pocket when jamming. Besides them, Brothers Past and RAQ were great late-night sets. Tom Hamilton of Brothers Past never fails to impress the crowd, he plays a hollow-body guitar better than most. Talented guitarist Chris Michetti spent his birthday at The Chill and crushed two sets on Saturday night with both Conspirator and RAQ. Conspirator even played a set that was jam-heavy, they usually play live-electronic music with a lot of tracking. After their set, Marc Brownstein said "Tonight was the first night we actually opened up the jams, a lot more improvisation than in the past". The set spoke for itself and took many by surprise.

Although it's extremely difficult to pick just one 'best set of the weekend', it should definitely go to Dopadosio (Dopapod + Papadosio) - Nine people on stage from two different bands, to play the last set, of the last festival of the summer; the energy under that roof was absolutely incredible and will be extremely hard to match next year. They opened up with a Radiohead cover and absolutely crushed it, not an easy thing to do with nine musicians on stage. Whoever was managing the main stage did a good job at setting up for that set and making sure the transitions ran smoothly. Dopadosio played a few songs from each of their catalogs and closed the festival out better than I could ever imagine. Everyone should really keep Dopapod and Papadosio on their radar for the next couple of years. Two ridiculously talented bands who have been touring relentlessly over the past 2 years, they're finally getting the exposure that they deserve. Do not sleep on them any longer, trust me.

Many believe that Catskill Chill was the best festival of the summer, myself included. It was truly an amazing, collaborative effort from all the parties involved. More and more festivals are created each summer as others continue to grow in size every year. Catskill Chill proved to festival-goers that there is still hope in the world, there are still good people out there. The venue owners of Camp Minglewood in Hancock, New York need to realize that they have something very special in their hands. The festival will obviously grow in size, but as the years pass many are confident that The Chill will continue to keep its family vibe; The 'ChillFam' as most call it. As patrons broke down their campsites and packed up their cars, a mutual feeling floated through the air, from musicians to fans and more importantly from one human to another. Many smiles and tears of joy were shared, Catskill Chill has come and gone again. There were no goodbyes, the only words exchanged between attendees were "See you next year". Birds chirped  in the evergreens above, as the last bit of mist on the lakes' surface dissipated. There were no negative stories exchanged, no bad vibes bouncing around, it was an all-around beautiful weekend. Catskill Chill was pure, the perfect example of what a festival should be, in a world as diluted as ours.

Lettuce @ Stage 48

It's always a promising night getting to see a Brooklyn-based super-group, Lettuce; Especially when they're playing in their home city of New York. This past Wednesday the band played at Stage 48, a newer venue located in Hells Kitchen. They performed a special tribute set to the "Godfather of Soul", covering some of James Browns' biggest hits! Although it was a week-night, the venue was packed to capacity and quickly sold-out. Lettuce always shows love to New York and New York always shows love to Lettuce. They were introduced by former New York Knicks player John Starks, who called them the "funkiest band in the world". The band wasted no time and opened up with the funk classic 'Hot Pants Road' - Their musicianship was incredibly astonishing. One song after another, they remained tight and hit every note. Nigel Hall was absolutely astonishing as James Brown, he put everything he had into playing the part. The second-set was filled to the brim with songs from the Lettuce discography, from hip-hop to jazz. The crowd response was great - everybody was dancing; It didn't matter if you were twenty-five or fifty-five.  Lettuce is one band that truly epitomizes that New York feel, their music is soulful and they aren't afraid to experiment. Wednesday night was a prime example of why in fact they are world-class musicians; Not many bands can play James Brown and actually sound like James Brown.

 © 2015 The Passion Collective