Deep in the dusty expanse of the Central Valley of California, an oasis of fun appears in early October, where the dirtiest of birds migrate for a weekend of debauchery. Welcome to Dirtybird Campout.
Before I say anything about the festival, I need to put out a public service announcement. I did not see the lady spraying breast milk (NSFW), so stop asking me. That being said, I did experience some truly weird shit at Dirtybird Campout that will exist only in my memories, my inside jokes, and thankfully never the internet.
Dirtybird Campout isn’t your typical music festival. It’s a weekend-long camping excursion that’s just as much for the artists as it is for the attendees, and just as much about the activities as it is about the music. It’s a place where you can see Mija screen printing during the day and throwing down one of the best sets of the weekend at night. A place where you can dance with Black V Neck one minute and pelt them with dodgeballs the next.
Now in its second year at Modesto Reservoir Regional Park, DBC made some much-needed changes this year, the biggest of which was condensing the distance between its stages and activity areas. This was done for the benefit of both the attendees and Counselor Claude aka Claude Von Stroke, the head of Dirtybird, who ambitiously tries to make it to every single set at Campout each year, as he books the artists based on who he personally wants to see.
Another major improvement was the addition of astroturf to the Birdhouse Stage, which is located smack dab in the center of a parking lot. The grass did wonders for my old knees, and provided a perfect place to sprawl out and enjoy the festival horizontally. The Birdhouse stage and its comfy astroturf became our home base over the course of the weekend, where we created a fortress of blankets and wagons known as the living room, pictured below.
While we may have made the Birdhouse stage our defacto home base, it certainly wasn’t the only place I danced over the course of the weekend. The Bass Lodge hosted a plethora of unique acts that were outside of the Dirtybird tech house sound that dominated the Birdhouse. My favorite set of the weekend took place there when Barclay Crenshaw (Claude Von Stroke’s legal name and his bass and hip-hop loving alter ego) went b2b with Eprom for a deliciously nasty set of bass music late on Friday night.
When the music at the two stages ended, the fun was just beginning. Whether you wandered over to Claude’s Cabin for late-night bingo or wandered around the campsites and RVs for the renegade sets, there was no shortage of debauchery and dancing to be had. Whether you were getting down to the Martin brothers playing drum n bass out of the back of an RV or witnessing Steve Darko throwing down from behind a giant shark, musical surprises were around every curve in the road. The late-night shenanigans spilled over into the morning, and as the sun rose many of us were just crawling into bed (which is the reason I missed out on most of the actual camp games).
When it comes down to it though, the reason Dirtybird was so fun this year isn’t because of the improvements they made, the ridiculous activities, or the incredible music. It’s about the humans that embrace Dirtybird, release to release, campout to campout. It’s a family, it’s a cult, it’s whatever you want to call it, but it is a gathering of like-minded people who made Dirtybird Campout exactly what everyone wanted it to be.
My dear friend Brittany aka LilB aka the girl who puts the D in Dirtybird put it best:
“Yes, there were things that I think could change organizationally, BUT I had the most amazing time with all of my old and new friends. I feel so fortunate to have met & had great conversations with people, to have laughed until I cried, to have danced until my feet were black (the downside of wearing sandals all weekend), to have confused people with “NO SHOES IN THE LIVING ROOM!,” to have yelled “Big Ol’ Bitch” to someone who is not actually a bitch but is just WAY taller than me and was being left behind, annnnd in general to have had the best time making the best memories that I will undoubtedly treasure for as long as I can remember.”
When you got back from summer camp as a kid you didn’t compare it to other summer camps, or critique the layout of the camp or the schedule of activities. You talked about the friends you made, the experiences you had, the girls you kissed, the late-night adventures. That’s what Dirtybird Campout is, it’s a collection of inside jokes and personal stories peppered with some amazing music.
When Claude was asked at the press event what he would do if he had tons of money for Dirtybird Campout, without hesitation he said “I would make it free.” That response sums up the ethos of the entire Dirtybird team. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience. It’s not setting out to be the next huge festival. It’s just there to make sure we all have fun. And we did. We had so much fun.
Until next year, stay dirty, drink your tiddy milk, and NO SHOES IN THE LIVING ROOM.
All photos by Get Tiny unless otherwise noted