Claude VonStroke’s wonky, wobbly house label Dirtybird has certainly made its mark on the US dance music scene since its humble beginnings in San Francisco in 2005. The imprint was recently voted ‘Label of the Decade’ by fans and Mixmag readers and the familiar crew of Dirtybird regulars have been dominating the festival circuit all year long. The label family hosted their third annual Campout festival from October 6-8, and the third time was indeed a charm as it was a clear and memorable example of why the crew has such a growing strong-hold on US electronic music fans.
This year’s Dirtybird Campout was the biggest yet, with attendance pushing around 8500 Boy Scout uniform-donning campers. This edition hosted the most diverse DJ lineup and truly appealed to a range of passionate music lovers: from Dirtybird label diehards to classic house fans, and even to an impressive group of bassheads. Dirtybird and co-hosts The DoLab have moved the event from its previous location 40 minutes outside of Los Angeles to a more remote site up north in central California. The change has allowed for less late-night sound restrictions compared to past years, but challenged attendees to face a chillier, more frigid festival.
Like past years, while the bass rattles Dirtybird’s adult summer camp, there are plenty of daytime games and activities, primarily in existence for Claude VonStroke (aka Barclay Crenshaw) to relive his youth and beloved time at camp. Activities include the highly competitive dodgeball tournament, plus archery, screen printing, Simon Says, face painting, a water balloon toss and countless other entertainment options. Campers can experience all the camp classics, but one of the wildest is, without a doubt, late night bingo, where you'll find a DJ donning a sequined fedora and a wide selection of prizes ranging from home workout gear to ultra explicit sex toys.
Elsewhere, it’s no surprise to find Barclay fist-pumping on the Bunk House stage at 4AM while the DJ plays ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ on a 20 minute loop. By day 3, Dirtybird Campers are deep in the debauchery as they secretly rearrange the merch sales letters to read ‘Dirty Dick Map Store’... even though it’s unclear where these extra letters are coming from.
The Bass Lodge – pronounced like both the genre and the fish – hosts a majority of the bass and hip hop acts including Madam X, DJ Marky, Bleep Bloop, Madlib and many more. The Birdhouse stage is where you'll find most of the Dirtybird mainstays such as J.Phlip, Kill Frenzy and Justin Martin, plus guest DJs Matthew Dear, Danny Daze, Mike Servito and Eats Everything. Further, a booming renegade stage sets the energy off until the early hours on Saturday AM. It's a given that fans are happy to hear all the classic Dirtybird hits, but this year, the crowd was pleasantly surprised by the amount of refreshing and unreleased material playing across the weekend.
To give you a taste, take a peek at Mixmag's favorite identified bangers of the weekend below.
Boys Noize 'Oh No' (A-Trak Remix)
Who played it: Mikey Lion b2b Porkchop
While we heard that Mike Servito laid down a killer set on the Birdhouse stage on Friday afternoon, Desert Hearts’ Mikey Lion and Porkchop drew what looks like the entire festival crowd to the Bass Lodge, with their colorful cult following. Despite being known for their vibe-driven tech house, the pair decided to close out their set with a classic Boys Noize x A-Trak collab, which Mikey Lion says is one of his all-time favorites.
Champion 'Lighter VIP'
Who played it: Madam X
Kaizen label-boss and rising UK talent Madam X has been gaining a serious following in the US since playing HARD Summer in Los Angeles in August of this year. She kicked off her set at the Bass Lodge on Friday night with this grimey bassline track, showing her new American fans what they've signed up for. Aside from this one Mixmag ID’d, Madam X threw down some tracks from the unreleased 'Biome' EP, coming out on Kaizen before the end of 2017.
Too Short 'Blow the Whistle'
Who played it: Danny Daze
Anyone who has been to a Dirtybird BBQ has probably heard someone from the label play this Bay Area hyphy anthem. What’s most hilarious about hearing ‘Blow The Whistle’ at Campout is hearing it dropped by Miami-native Danny Daze. Straight from electro-techno to Bay Area rap, at this moment, there couldn’t be a more exciting and surprising mix.
Claude VonStroke & Will Clarke 'Tiny Tambourine'
Who played it: Claude VonStroke
The boss himself played this deep tech 2017 Dirtybird release, as he closed out the main stage on the first night of his festival. ‘Tiny Tambourine’ is another infectious Dirtybird tune... and it might also help to explain why he was spotted carrying around a small tambourine periodically across the weekend.
Barclay Crenshaw 'I'm Up Here' (Eprom Remix)
Who played it: Barclay Crenshaw
Saturday night at 11PM, Barclay Crenshaw descended upon the Bass Stage. Barclay Crenshaw is both the real name of Claude VonStroke, and also his space alien beat-making DJ alter ego. Barclay dropped one of his original trippy hip-hop cuts ‘I’m Up Here’ with a twist, a forthcoming remix by glitchy bass producer EPROM. This heady remix is not yet up for grabs, but you can bet it's coming soon.
Walker & Royce 'Take Me To Your Leader'
Who played it: Walker & Royce
Barclay decides to split the festival on Saturday night between hip hop fans and the house music diehards by putting Dirtybird label newcomers Walker & Royce at the competing 11PM slot on the Birdhouse stage... and it works. Fans bounce and bob to some of the label’s most exciting new music, mostly filled with originals off of Walker and Royce’s forthcoming debut album ‘Self Help’. During their set, it's clear that the rest of the album, which is out on October 20, is just as catchy as their singles, ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ featuring Dances With White Girls and ‘Rub Anotha Dub’ with Green Velvet.
Who played it: The Martin Brothers (Justin Martin b2b Christian Martin)
The sunrise drum 'n' bass set is another Campout tradition. Justin Martin and Christian Martin, two of the label’s original artists, have been known to throw down a drum 'n' bass set or two at parties in San Francisco across the years, and their brotherly b2b is their signature gift to the festival every year. They dove into this techy d'n'b tune from Halogenix and shook the dancefloor at 4AM.
Who played it: Matthew Dear
"Let’s make a video for Tiga!" Matthew Dear yellson Sunday night on the Birdhouse stage. Matthew Dear proclaimed his love for Campout and it showed throughout his entire set. Tiga’s recent release ‘Woke’ has been hitting dance floors hard and it's no surprise that the Montreal producer's tunes are set favorites all around – Justin Martin lit up the crowd with ‘Mind Dimension’ in the Family Set and ‘Bugatti’, in one form or another, can be heard at least a handful times across the weekend.
Bleep Bloop & G Jones ‘A$∆¶ M'§’
Who played it: Bleep Bloop
Bleep Bloop’s set on Sunday night on the Bass Stage was certainly not for the faint of heart. Referred to as ‘DJ Shadow’s prodigy’, Bleep Bloop does not hold back on showing where his music differs from the rest of the US bass music world. His wild bootleg collab with fellow trippy producer G Jones called ‘ASAP MOB’ quite literally sounds like it is melting and is one of our favorite cuts from his unpredictable, hard-hitting set. The best news? It’s available for free download.
Ryan Forever 'Nasty' (Unreleased)
Who played it: Ryan Forever
The collaborative Family Set is the closer of Campout every year. It's where Claude takes the stage and calls a selection of artists name-by-name to step up to the plate and play only one big tune for the whole festival to hear, and ultimately judge. One of the newbies on the lineup Ryan Forever was invited by the big man himself to come play the crowd his best selection. The rookie dropped a ‘Nasty’ original, an unreleased breakbeat tune which spurred fans to dedicate an entire Reddit thread to it, trying to find the song. It's still unreleased at the moment but you can hear it in the mix above around the one minute and 30 second mark.
[Images: Juliana Bernstein / Katie Laskowska / Miranda McDonald / Watchara]