Dinosaur Jr.'s Camp Fuzz was more camp than fuzz, and that made it great | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Dinosaur Jr.'s Camp Fuzz was more camp than fuzz, and that made it great

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CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
  • CP Photo: Josh Oswald

From July 30 to Aug. 2, purveyors of sonic squawk Dinosaur Jr. hosted Camp Fuzz at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, N.Y., featuring "master classes, Q&A sessions, performances, arts and crafts, and more," according to the website. 

For those who know me well, most would accurately guess my biggest influences: 1) arts and crafts; 2) Dinosaur Jr.; 3) activities.

So, when I fortuitously found the email advertising Camp Fuzz hiding in my Gmail promotions folder amid hundreds of unread Groupon and JetBlue emails, I had to dig deeper. First, I made sure it wasn't some Russian plot to eradicate 3 percent of the 35-55 demographic. Then, like an adult, I asked for my wife's permission.

A babbling brook at Full Moon Resort - CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
  • CP photo: Josh Oswald
  • A babbling brook at Full Moon Resort


Full Moon Resort is what you’d get if you let Joanna Gaines redesign Camp Firewood, quaint and inviting like a camp with enough “upcyled” décor to draw in the Park Slope wedding parties. There’s a main lodge, The Moondance Pavilion, The Workshop Barn, and The Roadhouse — all of which were charming and rustic. But not rustic enough to scare anyone away. 

The first activity — “Welcome and introductions on the front lawn” — featured an open bar and 60 or so Dinosaur Jr. fans milling around in lanyards that made it look like an SEO conference, except that everyone wanted to be there. Some attendees knew each other, but most seemed not to. Everyone there was really easy to talk to and ready to discuss what city they were from and what they do for a living, since the all-important "What kind of music do you like?" question was already answered for us. 

Tuesday's full-band performance was set at Moondance Pavilion, which was adorned with circular tables with white table cloths, creating a strange but welcoming vibe of a polyamorous wedding ceremony of the middle-aged where the house band is Dinosaur Jr. 

S'mores fixings - CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
  • CP Photo: Josh Oswald
  • S'mores fixings
The remaining scheduled activities featured Lou Barlow and J. Mascis, who each also performed solo shows on top of the two they played as Dinosaur Jr. (second list here, courtesy of camp hero Chris Parker). Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine joined J. for a pedalboard question and answer. Murph held a drum clinic, where he emphasized practicing your rudiments, just like my drum teacher did when I was in eighth grade. Fred Armisen popped into camp for a 40-minute financial-planning seminar where he emphasized dividends of a variety of percentages, investing in haunted houses, and "building from the Lego puddle."  

J. Mascis' dog, Candy - CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
  • CP Photo: Josh Oswald
  • J. Mascis' dog, Candy

But the most remarkable and unexpected thing about Camp Fuzz was how much it captured the essential spontaneous fun of camp:
  • There was a group of spirited teenagers (I'm guessing at ages, here) in attendance, who brought youthful energy full of moshing, unencumbered questions, and one had the guts to invite himself on stage to drum behind Murph during "Freak Scene." And it was great.

  • A dad of one of the teen campers asked Kevin Shields if he had any advice for a 15-year-old interested in going into music. "You look a lot older than 15," Shields responded.

  • During one of Lou Barlow's softer ukulele songs, someone snuck a whoopee cushion onto a seat and it went off more perfectly than the inventor of the gag could have ever imagined.

  • A bong was fashioned out of an apple and a water bottle.

  • There was karaoke in a building called The Roadhouse, and everyone was treated to the Fred Schneider-like stylings of the lead singer of Mock Lobster, ripping through "Rock Lobster."  J. did two songs.

  • Members of Dinosaur Jr. jammed Stooges covers with other campers for more than an hour.

  • J. traversed the grounds on one of those fat tire mountain bikes, and Lou Tokyo-drifted a four-seater golf cart with his kids in the back. They even got a black bear to show up a bit too close for comfort to some campers. No expense was spared.
As the camp progressed, people got to know one another better, inside jokes developed, and a looseness filled the Catskills air that wasn't there at the beginning. It seemed like everybody, maybe even the members of the band, was sad that it was over.

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