Nobody knows anything.
Whispers of drug dogs and extensive searches float about the bus destined for upstate New York. I’m tense, clicking away between Reddit and Facebook, desperate to find out what I’m up against. I get a call from Jack as I do my research.
“Nothing. I’m on break right now. You on the bus?”
“Yup, I’m on my way now.”
“Any word on security?”
“It’s not looking good, man. I only ended up bringing enough for us. They’re going hard. Dogs, cops, the whole nine. Make sure you smoke all your shit before you get here.”
“Damn. Alright, let me know. I’ll be heading up around two. Should get there just in time for Atmosphere.”
“Sounds good brotha. I’ll let you know when I’m in.”
For fifteen years, Camp Bisco was the mecca festival for spunions the world over. Known as Camp Shit-Show among fans, it was hippie anarchy at its finest. Security was handled by Hells Angels who turned a blind eye to everything but violence. It was three days of pure excess and good vibes, man.
This year, though, Camp Bisco is no more. There’s a billion and one rumors as to why it isn’t going down this year, but none of them matter. In its place is The Hudson Project, a completely new festival featuring a lineup of Bisco alumni. I assumed it would be the same ol’ Bisco without The Biscuits, but now I’m not so sure.
In my left shoe are two grams of MDMA. In my right shoe is a gram of Ketamine. In my phone case is a ten strip of LSD, and in my sleeping bag is an ounce of weed. Usually I’d bring enough shit to open up shop on the campgrounds, but I decided against it once I heard about those fucking dogs. Giving dogs people jobs should count as animal cruelty, god damn it.
I’m on edge as I get off the bus and gather my shit. I hear barking in the distance as I walk to the will call booth and collect my wristband. “This the entrance?” I ask one of the staff members, motioning to a small line of people by the will call booth. “Yeah, you can get in through here. You got a long ass walk to the campgrounds, though.” He replies. I look over at the line. There’s three staff members standing under a canopy going through bags. A cop stands off to the side playing with his phone, but there are no dogs in sight. I opt to take this entrance inside. They toss through my backpack and tent bag, but don’t unroll my sleeping bag. I’m allowed through with no issues.
Not everyone is as lucky as me. I walk past the closer entrances to see kid after kid being led away in cuffs. There are cops everywhere on ATV’s, horseback, and on foot. God damn, it’s hot out here. The scene just hasn’t been the same since those kids died at E-Zoo last summer. A kid with long blonde hair in a tie die shirt sits off to the side, handcuffed, while a cop opens a jar of peanut butter and pulls his stash out of it.
Is this a music festival or a fucking airport? Jesus H. Christ. I say a prayer to Saint Escobar that someone manages to smuggle some Cocaine into this hippie trap as I navigate the campgrounds. I settle on a slightly inclined spot since we’re supposed to be getting rain this weekend. I pitch the tent and take the drugs out of my shoes. Everything is intact, though the MDMA capsules are a bit melted from my body heat. Gross, yes, but this is a festival god damn it. I came here to get dirty, and dirty I will get.
I’ve infiltrated the campgrounds without incident, but I’m not out of the woods yet. From what people have been saying on Reddit and Facebook, security is being really fucking gay about open packs of cigarettes, so I light one and leave the rest in my tent.
Just as I feared, these cocksuckers have set up checkpoints going from the campgrounds to the stage. “I’m gonna need you to empty that water bottle, sir.” Some fat fuck security guard says to me as I approach the gate. I roll my eyes and dump it out at his feet before he pats me down and lets me through. As I walk through I notice milk crates set up by each line full of packs of cigarettes. “So I have to give up my smokes? Are you shitting me right now?” I hear a kid plead with a security guard. “You can get ‘em back when you come back in line, they’ll be here.” The guard replies blankly. “So I can just waltz on through here and take any fuckin’…. Nevermind.” I say before walking away. As if I don’t have enough shit to smuggle…
Overbearing security aside, this place is pretty fucking gorgeous. I try to remain positive, I paid way too much fucking money not to. Two huge stages stand side by side, with giant monitors on each side of them. Behind me is a massive tent for the late night raves. Despite the staff’s best efforts, the festival spirit is alive and well here. The sun is shining, girls are hooping, people relaxing, just living in the now, man. Now that I’ve gotten through security and have setup my tent, relief sets in. I have three days of partying and music ahead of me. No worries, no bullshit.
Jack shows up an hour before Atmosphere takes the stage. We hurriedly finish the remainder of our setup. An easy-up canopy goes over the front of our tent, whose back faces the incline we’re camped on. A tarp goes over the back of the tent, shielding us from any potential bullshit mother nature can throw at us. We’ve come a long way since we showed up at Bisco ’12 with a $20 Wal-Mart tent and a small cooler.
I get goosebumps as Slug and Ant take the stage and the sun slowly begins to set. Atmosphere are the fucking shit, man. Jack and I pass a joint back and forth as we smile, nod, and rap along to the lyrics.
“I wear my scars like the rings on a pimp…
I live life like the captain of a sinking ship…”
Slug’s one of those rare rappers with a crazy pen game and great stage presence. Yes he’s a great writer, but I don’t think he gets enough credit as a rapper. “Every year security gets better and better, but so do you…” He says to a roaring applause. They roll through some of their hits and a few new singles before Slug drops one more jewel. “Put your hands up, y’all! Let’s be real, this is the closest to church a lot of us are gonna get right now, let’s see those hands on this one!”
“You tryna see Bro Safari?” Jack asks me as we walk back to camp. “Eh, I saw him at Summer Camp already. I’m kinda done with trap, man. Shit just gets too repetitive.” I reply. “That’s fine by me. So we got STS9 and Flaming Lips up next, but we got a bit of time before that. Let’s chill out at camp before we head out again.”
Back at camp, we drink and meet our neighbors: Megan and Dave, a couple from NYU. They sell us a gram of sass and smoke a few joints with us. Two strangers wander over to our site. I assume they’re a bit too spun and forgot where their tent is, and prepare to grab a bottled water for each of them when they speak up. “Yo, can we use your tent, man? Real quick, just to weigh somethin’ out?” One of them asks. “Sure, whatcha got?” I ask them as I close the cooler. One of the guys looks over his shoulders and leans in to us. “I got coke and K, if you guys are looking.” He whispers. “Yup, we’ll take a G of coke.” I reply quickly, taking out my wallet. I love when shit falls in my lap.
A few lines and a lot of beers later, it’s time for STS9, which means it’s time to drop Acid. I had to get these tabs off the DNM since some asshole flooded the local market with n-bomb. “How many are you dropping?” Jack asks me. “I figured I’d start with one…” I reply. Jack gives me a look that says really? And I reconsider. “Fuck it, two.” I say, breaking off another tab and two for Jack. “That’s more like it!” Jack says with a smile.
Holy shit, I’m so fucking spun. STS9 could be up there making fart noises with their armpits and I’d find a way to dance to it. It almost feels like Bisco again as they play. I pop a cap of MDMA and get rolling. Lasers reach from the front of the stage over a crowd of thousands, criss-crossing the stars in the beautiful night sky. I let out a long sigh. Shit is just perfect right now.
The Flaming Lips are pretty dope, but I don’t know any of their songs. After their set Jack and I post up at Spiritual Haze, a hookah lounge that sets up shop at Bisco and other New England festivals every year. $20 gets you access to all you can smoke hookah all weekend long. It’s a fucking genius concept. Jack pulls a few beers out of his bag and I marvel at how the fuck he got them through security. This kid is like a ninja when it comes to this shit.
“Alright, let’s see what we got here…” Jack says as he unfolds the schedule for day two and I rack up a few lines of coke. Suddenly, a horrific scream cuts through the campground. “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO!?!?!” A woman cries a few sites behind us. Jack and I stand up to investigate. In the row of campsites behind us, a girl is on the ground, shaking violently. “She’s having a seizure! I’m gonna go grab somebody to help!” A guy says before taking off running. Jack and I watch helplessly as this poor girl shakes and her friends stand there, some crying, the rest speechless. An ATV with a stretcher behind it pulls up along with three staff members and a cop. One of the friends and a few neighbors talk with them as the girl is loaded up onto the stretcher. They drive right by Jack and I’s campsite, and I get a good look at her face. Her eyes are half shut, lifeless as blood runs down the side of her open mouth. She bit through her tongue.
“Yo, buddy!” Jack shouts at one of their neighbors as he walks back to his site. “What happened to her? Is she gonna be alright?” He asks him. The guy shrugs. “It’s too early to tell, man. I guess they were saying she had a pretty bad seizure. Said she took some bad acid. I guarantee it’s that n-bomb shit, man. I’d put fuckin’ money on it.” He tells us. My sunglasses shield the look of surprise and terror on my face. “Did uh… Did you happen to hear what the blotter art was? Y’know, just so we know what to avoid out here?” I ask him. “Yeah, they said they were Grateful Dead bears. People are fucking scumbags, man. I hate that shit. Whoever does that oughta be charged with murder. You can’t fuck around like that. Anyways, you guys stay safe.” “Definitely man, thanks for the head’s up.” I reply.
“Well, were they yours?!” Jack asks as soon as the guy is out of earshot. “No, thank fucking God. I need a god damn beer dude, Jesus Fucking Christ…” I say. I chug down a PBR and crack open another one right after. My hand shakes as I chop up lines of coke. I can’t get that girl’s face out of my fucking head. I think about the nine sheets I dropped off to Rich before I left. It’s their fault in the end, man. You gotta test your shit! You can’t regulate a black market, they oughta know that… My own bullshit excuses are wearing thin. You’re killing a scene that you swear you love. The dogs, the searches, these are YOUR FAULT… Fuck, fuck FUCK! Not this weekend, not this FUCKING weekend. I came here to forget about the paranoia, the guilt, the dread. Just for three god damn days. I drink and snort coke until I’m numb again.
An afternoon Twiddle set takes my mind off things. Back at camp, Jack suggests we take more acid. I’m not sure. I’ve spent most of the morning burying feelings under alcohol and drugs, the last thing I need is Lucy digging them up again. I end up agreeing, making sure to even out with MDMA, a little more booze, and more weed. We receive word that the girl pulled through and should make a smooth recovery. No sense in worrying about it, man. She could’ve had an underlying condition, ya never know!
Fireworks mark the climax of Big Gigantic’s set. I gotta hand it to these guys, they really went balls-out. I just wish they chilled a bit with security. Seconds after the fireworks begin to fade, it starts to downpour. The rain lasts just long enough for the main stage to turn to mud. My foot gets sucked in to a giant puddle as we walk back to camp, ripping my sneaker right off my foot. “Fuck, dude! I’m tripping too hard for this shit!” I scream as I hop on one foot through security.
I make several futile attempts to clean the thick mud off my sneakers back at camp. “Fuck it, dude, let’s just go barefoot.” Jack suggests. His shoes are pretty muddy as well. I’m on enough drugs for this to seem like a great idea. “Fuck it.” I say before abandoning my shoes. We make our way to the tent, which has become a giant mud pit. Anyone not wearing boots is pretty much fucked. I take more MDMA, sip my beer, and embrace it, dancing like a fool, ankles deep in mud, enjoying the fuck out of some Conspirator, Griz, and Moby.
We cap off night two with an ignorant amount of Ketamine. “Make sure you’re sitting down for this one, brotha…” I say as I chop up a huge line. I make sure I have a drink in my chair’s cup holder before rolling up a 20 and sniffing my share. “Ooof… Fuck!” I wince as I hand my phone to Jack gingerly. As the drip slides down my throat I’m blasted off to planet K, where motor skills are strictly prohibited. Jack almost drops my phone after he does his line, and tosses it into my lap quickly before collapsing into his chair and plummeting into the K-Hole. I forget all about everything as I sit in my chair, head slumped on my right shoulder blade, legs splayed out like an idiot.
Day three starts off with The Floozies and cloudy skies. I’m chopping up a line of Ketamolicaine when Dave comes over to our site. “You guys hear the news?” He asks. I almost drop my credit card. “Don’t tell me somebody fucking died…” I begin, rolling up a 20 nervously. Dave shakes his head. “Nah man, they’re gonna cancel the festival.” “The fuck?! Why!? It’s not even raining!” Jack says. “I know, man. It’s retarded. But I guess it’s supposed to start soon. Bassnectar said so on Twitter.” I do my line, hand my phone to Jack, and pound my fist on my thigh. “You gotta be fucking shitting me!”
The wind picks up. The rumors continue to spread. “I dunno, man. Should we really be putting faith in festival rumors? I mean, it’s day three, how can anyone’s phone still be alive to check twitter? Every year at Bisco there’s like ten dead kid rumors, and none of them ever end up being true…” I say to Jack at Spiritual Haze. “Oh it’s true, dude.” A kid at another table says as he turns to face us. “I just checked with that chick over there, she owns this whole booth, she said it’s true. They’re gonna shut shit down any minute now.” The kid points to a girl in the corner of the booth packing shit up. I exhale a thick plume of pineapple smoke. “Motherfucker…”
Sure enough, a voice comes over the festival intercom, breaking the bad news. Everyone is ordered to their car until the storm passes. We’re told to check the Hudson Project Facebook and Twitter pages for more information. That’s really helpful, since none of our fucking phones work. “That’s fucking bullshit, man! I bet they got cops waiting at the gates to fuck you! I’m not getting a DUI over this!” One guy shouts. “You guys can all stay here until the storm passes! I repeat, you can stay here ‘till the storm’s over!” The girl running the booth shouts through cupped hands. Everyone cheers as the front flaps of the tent are lowered and the rain begins to hammer the booth from the inside.
Our celebration is short-lived. A couple of security guards in ponchos enter the booth and order everyone out. “EVERYONE GO TO YOUR CARS UNTIL THE STORM HAS PASSED! GO TO YOUR CARS UNTIL THE STORM HAS PASSED!” One staff member yells as we walk back to the tent. “Fuck that, dude. It’s not raining that hard. We got plenty of cover, the tarp’s up, I say we ride this shit out. We got more than enough drugs.” Jack suggests as we walk. “Yeah dude, we’re not going anywhere, they can’t make us drive home. Everyone’s way too fucked up.” I reply.
As we trudge back to camp, we notice the floods. Coolers and chairs float by as their owners stand by new-formed rivers on the verge of tears. Everyone’s fucking soaked, but our campsite remains dry. Megan and Dave are packing their shit when we return. “Rumor has it Bassnectar’s setting up a make-up show at Webster. We’re gonna head out that way.” Dave says. “Good luck dude, you guys drive safe. Be careful, the cops are gonna be posted all over the exit.” I tell them. “You guys want some Vodka?” Megan asks us, pulling a half-full handle of Absolut from her bag. “Uh, sure!” I say as I grab the bottle. “It was nice meeting you guys, maybe we’ll run into each other again someday.” Dave says as we leave. “Later guys!” Jack says. “Welp, might as well get fucking loaded.” I say before taking a big swig from the Absolut bottle.
No amount of drugs can truly replace Bassnectar and Infected Mushroom, but I try anyway. The rain lets up, and Jack and I decide to scavenge the abandoned campgrounds to see if there are any survivors. I dump the remaining Vodka into two water bottles. I’m already pretty fucking hammered, and the coke is running low. This booze is gonna catch up to me soon, though I’m too drunk to really give a shit.
We drop the rest of our MDMA and sass when I realize I lost my fucking phone. This sucks, but what truly sucks is that our remaining two tabs of acid are gone with it. “Fuck, dude!! Really!?!?” Jack asks in disbelief as I rummage through my bag for the third time. I shrug. “I dunno, dude. I musta dropped it or something. I mean, we been tripping balls all weekend, I don’t think one tab each would do much anyway.” Jack sighs. “I guess, man…”
Truth be told, I’m a bit miffed over the missing acid myself. And my missing phone. Fuck, at least I still have my burner. I would’ve been really fucking mad if I lost that. A crowd of stragglers has formed at the top of a hill overhead, which people are sliding down like a Slip ‘N Slide. A dude in a filthy Wario costume makes several runs up and down the hill. “WARIO! WARIO! WARIO!” I scream, pumping my fist as I chug more Vodka. “That guy’s gonna be pissed when the drugs wear off, holy shit…” Jack says as he passes me a joint.
Though the music is officially cancelled, we’re told there’s a party in the VIP/RV section. I have brief memories of a bunch of kids dancing on top of an RV, stereo blasting, while a crowd of us all dance around it. Then I blackout.
I wake up to two concerned hippies standing over me. They both jump back as I open my eyes and sit up. “What the fuck…?” I mumble as I rub my eyes. My tent sits in front of me, door shut. Jack can be heard snoring inside. “Woah! Dude, are you alright?!!?” One of the staff members asks me as I stand up. “Yeah, I’m fine, dude. Guess I got pretty loaded last night…” I say as I stretch. “Dude, we shook you for like five minutes and you didn’t even budge! We thought you did too many drugs, we literally have an ambulance on the way for you right now!” The other staff member says. “Haha, really? No shit. Well, you better call it off, ‘cause I’m not getting in a fucking ambulance right now.” I say defiantly. “Yeah, yeah, he woke up, he’s fine. Call it off.” One of the staff members says into a radio. They hand me a water bottle and tell Jack and I to pack up and leave, as the campgrounds are set to close in a few hours.
I grind my teeth as I jam my feet into my mud-soaked sneakers. “Haha, did you hear that guy that woke me up, dude?! They seriously thought I died!” I say to Jack as we walk back to his truck. “Haha, really?! I don’t remember shit from last night. Like I remember getting to the RV, but nothing after that. I’m surprised we made it back to the tent.” He replies. The parking lot is a fucking mess, I’m lucky Jack has a truck that can handle this much mud. As I charge my phone, I read hundreds of posts from irate fans complaining about slow tow-truck service and clamors for refunds. “Fuck this shit, it’s Bisco or nothing next year.” Jack says as we pull away.
The Hudson Project: a great name for a failed experiment.