About This Festival
Khaki Shorts and Coonskin Caps
The Dirtybird Campout is a newbie fest, launched in 2015, but already it feels like a tradition-steeped regular. It’s the brainchild of the folks at San Francisco’s Dirtybird label, known for its funky house music output.
Dirtybird’s founder, Claude VonStroke, masterminds the event, which is a no-holds-barred return to summer camps of yore. Potato sack races? S’mores around a campfire? Archery contests? Rowboat racing? They’re all there for entertainment when fest-goers aren’t shaking a hoof at the tech-funk-blasting stages.
The label stokes a fun-loving, underground vibe, and its diehard fans fit a similar mold. Here, fashion among the wacky, 20-to-40-something crowd tends more toward khaki shorts and coonskin caps than kandi and furry boots. Dirtybirders are about the music, not a ravey scene so much, and the label’s peeps provide the manna. Booty house maestro VonStroke headlined the event, and label mates Justin Martin, J.Phlip, Breach and Kill Frenzy unleashed their bass-driven bombs in other top sets.
Tug-of-War and Water Balloon Tosses
Like many of the best fests, the Campout is intimate (a few thousand people) and the artists mingle freely with the attendees. And it all transpires in a retro summer camp environment.
Each day between 9 am and 7 pm, fest-goers choose from a full slate of games and activities, such as kickball tournaments, nature walks or sack races. The DJs often lead the charge, so you might end up playing tug-of-war with VonStroke or throwing water balloons at J.Phlip. In fact, the artists are the camp’s “counselors,” wearing scout-like uniforms and shouting instructions through megaphones. They lead the teams – attendees are divided into Green, Yellow, Orange and Purple groups when they arrive – whose progress is posted on a big scoreboard. Winners earn merit badges and prizes.
Other throwback amusements include rowboat relays (in costume) on the pond, tie-dyeing classes, dodgeball games, scavenger hunts and archery lessons. Body painting workshops and boozy stand-up comedy shows likely weren’t part of your childhood camp experience, but they are here. Yoga classes in various styles (somatic flow, power flow, vinyasa) are another big to-do, as is the camp talent show.
Come 2 am every night, the staff builds a fire at the S’more Pit and busts out the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Everyone joins in a group sing-along during the first hour, then it morphs into storytelling time for the second hour.
Dancing and Drinking
Meanwhile, the music smashes through the air starting in the early afternoon. There are two stages. The cabin-like Birdhouse is the main one, hosting the big names. The crowd rallies in their forest animal costumes (hello, giant squirrel!) and Stormtrooper helmets, waving and woo’ing until the music stops at around 2 am. Then the action moves over to the Late Night Lodge, where the sounds get a bit more experimental and the party rages on under the stars and glowy lights until 7 am.
All the dancing and water balloon tossing can make a camper thirsty, in which case one heads to the Tree Fort Taproom. Set in the middle of camp, it pours hoppy craft brews under a mighty oak. Couches scattered underneath are for relaxing, while daring types can climb the tree via the ropes and platforms. Food vendors dot the grounds too, offering burgers, hummus and pita, and killer pizzas.
History and Headliners
Dirtybird released its first vinyl in 2005. Not long thereafter, the label began throwing rollicking barbecue parties around the U.S. – basically a day of DJs spinning against a backdrop of grills cooking sizzling meats. Recent barbecues wafted in Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Brooklyn and Denver. Fans jumped all over the gigs, so Dirtybird decided to kick it up a notch with a full-on campout in 2015.
The lineup at the inaugural event included Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, Daniel Bell, J.Phlip, Breach, Danny Daze, Laura Jones, Benoit & Sergio, Lunice, Nosaj Thing, Eprom, Kill Frenzy, &ME, Justin Jay, Genghis Clan, Ardalan, Christian Martin, Worthy, Mikey Lion, Billy Kenny, ZDS, Will Clarke, and Walker & Royce.