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Dirtybird Campout: The Ultimate Adult Playground

Photo Credit:  Saylor Nedelman /  Don Indio / Ivan Meneses / Keiki Knudsen

What once started as a small gathering in Golden Gate Park, Dirtybird Campout has evolved into one of the most anticipated music festivals on the West Coast. Since 2005, founders Barclay and Aundy Crenshaw have nurtured this festival franchise and music label to the success it has today. Watching the Dirtybird scene develop over the years has been an extraordinary experience for anyone involved. Campers return every year, eager to earn their 5-timer badges and contribute to the magic that is Dirtybird Campout.

The nostalgia and communal feeling of the Birdhouse dancefloor are one of the most encapsulating parts of the festival. Dirtybird OGs are not afraid to hop in the crowd and dance with their fans. You often find people trading patches, giving gifts, and making friends with strangers. The culture encourages vibrant expression, openness, and generosity.

It was inspiring to see more female representation on the music label and throughout the festival. Compared to past years, it was a refreshing change to have increasingly more women featured on the lineup. RaeCola, Mary Droppinz, and Nala crushed their sets, encouraging women to keep pushing their dreams in a male-dominated industry. Claude VonStroke passed over his Saturday closing duties to VNSSA as well, who has solidified herself as a staple character in the Dirtybird crew in recent years – a big change from past Campout closings and a nod to the changing of the guard.

Although the roster of Dirtybird players has shifted over the years, Barclay’s commitment to showcasing up-and-coming talent remains strong. The Bass Lodge is a place for discovery and home to Dirtybird’s left-field artistry. Boiz House, a live-electronic jam band, captivated the crowd with their playful storytelling and synchronicity on Sunday evening. Rising star Nikki Nair took his audience on an explosive journey of breakbeat, jungle, and experimental bass. International legends like Roni Size and Goldie graced the stage with once-in-a-lifetime performances.

Every festival has its games and activities, but Dirtybird Campout has its own take on that angle – and goes at it in full force. The event is summer camp themed with an array of offerings like water sports, silly performances, crafting, their signature BBQ, and team competitions with your favorite artists. Music runs 24/7 at Campout, so attendees looking for a break from the party head to Claude’s Cabin for iconic performances like the annual Dirtybird talent show, ‘Lap Dance for your Life’ competition, and Bozo Burlesque. Craftopia was a new addition in 2022 as well, where campers were able to build totems and customize their merchandise.

The organizers utilized the Woodward Reservoir festival grounds by adding two new stages – The Ganja Garden and The Hideout. During the day, the Ganja Garden was a shaded lakeside oasis, complete with cannabis vendors and comfortable couch spaces to relax. During the after-hours, The Hideout stage hosted Dirtybird favorites and hidden gems until 7 am. The coveted Family Set took place here; the new environment created a more intimate experience than in past years at the Birdhouse. The Family Set is one of Dirtybird’s many traditions – a collective B2B between all the artists on the lineup.

Renegades are the late-night playground of Dirtybird. Hundreds of DIY sound camps organized by festival attendees come to life after dark. Each with its own unique theme – some have bouncy balls, mushrooms, jellyfish, or cuddle spaces. Renegades are a chance for bigger names to interact with the community and for smaller acts to play their music to the Dirtybird crowd. Many renegades have made names for themselves over the years. Campers anticipate returning to their favorite ones like Double Down or Glitter Catz. You never know what headliner you might find playing a little camp in the middle of the night.

There are mixed feelings about the way Dirtybird has shifted gears since its beginning, but the community will always keep the flame alive. It’s the people on the dance floor, core crew members, stage managers, Grillson’s BBQ workers, performers, media team, vendors, and volunteers who make this festival what it is today, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. The unwavering support of the Dirtybird community is like none other in its scene. This was their last year in Modesto, but I look forward to seeing where the festival spreads its wings in the coming years.

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