With music festivals popping up left and right they almost seem routine. Recycled lineups and the same old song and dance, but Claude Von Stroke has something different up his sleeve, after two successful years in California he decided to bring Dirty Bird Campout to St. Cloud, Florida.
The festival took place February 2-4 at Forever Florida, a 4,700-acre piece of amazing Florida wilderness. On Thursday February 1st that landscape started to change quite a bit when cars and RVs started lining up filled with happy campers ready to dance their weekend away. Early arrivees were treated with a sample of what the weekend had in store with a pre-party featuring Claude Von Stroke himself along with Seth Troxler.
Once you entered the campgrounds the sun started to set bursts of neon lights, which could be seen across the horizon while the bass continued to grow louder and louder. Originally an open piece of land now turned into a makeshift small city where strangers became friends.
As you stumbled your way over the terrain out of the campgrounds and entered the gates you were faced with the main stage known as the Bird House. The location was just around the corner from the Superb Owl, which is basically Dirtybird’s own outdoor sports bar that just happened to be airing the Super Bowl on Sunday! Like your music a little heavier? No problem, just take a small walk to the Bass Lodge, which happens to be where the pre-party took place.
As Thursday night turned into Friday morning rumors started to spread that permits may have been pulled due to noise complaints and no more campers were being allowed into the festival campgrounds. Spirits remained high though as the opening ceremony started and campers received their team colors. Just because there happened to be no music playing didn’t mean you couldn’t feel the energy. One of the biggest things that sets Dirty Bird Campout apart from all other music festivals is the activities and interactions with the artists! Campers found no shortage of fun to be had, from kayak racing to volleyball and a water balloon toss, but if that’s not your type of thing, you might find yourself at Craftopia where they were hosting all types of DIY arts and crafts activities.
As Friday night approached and activities came to end, campers were still patiently waiting for good news. Thanks to the efforts of the Dirtybird crew, lawyers and politicians who stepped up to save this festival, they announced the show would continue Saturday, but with a change in the schedule. Instead of going to the original set time of 5:30 am Saturday and 4 am Sunday it would be ending at 10 pm each night. With the time cut back many campers found themselves at the Bunk House after the music came to an end. Here you could check out comedy acts such as Robby Slowik, Matt Fernandez and others as well nightly bingo, talent shows or even play some board games.
Just because there was no official music playing didn’t stop the campers from setting up renegade stages of their own back at the campgrounds! The deeper you trekked into camp the more you stumbled across them. From small get togethers of friends at their tents huddled around a speaker to massive block parties, you couldn’t stop the Dirty Bird spirit! One of the biggest attractions in the campgrounds was a full-blown stage made to look like an airplane on the back of a box truck. It seemed the artists too were upset with the time changes and decided to take things into their own hands and ascend into the campground stages and play some surprise sets! Justin Martin, Mija, Ardalan along with many others were spotted.
The energy was almost overwhelming as Saturday came and music began bumping from the stages. Everyone fled the campgrounds to take on the new lineup with no time to waste. Billy Kenny, Bot and Pearson Sound could be found at the Bass Lodge while Will Clark, MK and others were taking on the Bird House stage. Walker & Royce played back to back with Claude to close out Saturday, but the party continued back at the campgrounds, with the music going to the early hours of the morning. As soon as the morning sky lit up you could hear the rumbling bass at 7 am. The last day officially started and campers were giving it their all.
The new day also brought in heavy rains, yet that didn’t slow anyone down, as they say the show must go on. One of Sundays highlights was an impromptu Drum and Bass set by Justin Martin and Claude Von Stroke, which left everyone moving their feet. The whole crowd’s energy was at an all-time high with Shiba San, J. Phlip and Claptone on the Bird House stage and Justin Jay, Craze and Biz Markie at the Bass Lodge. By the end of the night everyone made their way to the main stage for the closing Dirty Bird family set, which each artist had the opportunity to play one song each of their picking. The crowd danced the hour long set away all while the rain kept coming down.
As the music came to a stop and the lights came on everyone knew it was over, but the energy was far from gone. Many campers headed to the Superb Owl to catch the end of the Super Bowl while others headed to the Bunk House to catch a comedy show or play some soccer. Not before long though you could hear rumbling bass lines in the distance. The renegade stages back in the campgrounds were alive again and had no intentions on stopping. The music kept going all night with it fading slowly around sunrise, it was Monday and reality finally set back in. Looking across the campgrounds, you could see everyone packing up their belongings and picking up the trash that was left behind.
I truly don’t believe any other music festival could pull off what the Dirtybird Campout crew did this year. No matter what they had thrown at them, from nonstop rain to being shut down and almost having their permits pulled, they kept up the good vibes and made it work in their benefit. Uniting people is what the Dirty Bird spirit is all about and against all odds they achieved that this past weekend.