Claude VonStroke’s Dirtybird Camps Out On Couches
Dirtybird Records has hosted a flagship event in California since the label’s inception in 2003 and, in the face of the current moratorium on large gatherings, artist/founder Claude VonStroke and his wife – and Dirtybird COO/CMO/CFO – Aundy Caldwell Crenshaw made the now-familiar decision to pivot to a digital event.
As more and more festivals transition their events into the digital space, events from Rolling Loud to Tomorrowland have found success capturing at least some of the character, community and overall vibes from the IRL events, even while trying new things.
In the case of Dirtybird Campout – which staged this year as Dirtybird Couchout Oct. 2-8 – this meant keeping the summer camp and competitive/participatory spirit of the campout alive and translating that onto the streaming platform Twitch.
“We did what we normally do, we created a friendly competition between different colored teams,” Crenshaw told Pollstar. “We created a colored-bandana emote. At Dirtybird Campout, when you arrive you get assigned to a color team and you compete in all these 60-plus games. So this was a way to keep the tradition going within Twitch, which was super fun and people were so into it. They were all commenting, and we tracked whenever people commented or showed support using their team’s color emote. We added up the color emotes at the end of each day and had a winner.
“I think there were about 50,000 bandanas used per color, about 200,000 in total per day. It was crazy,” Crenshaw said.
Though it was hotly contested, the Purple Team won when all was said and done.
In addition to livestreamed music performances there was a talent show portion, a DJ contest and live yoga sessions, similar to the onsite competitions and alternative programming available at the annual Campout.
The vast majority of the work to put on Dirtybird’s digital festival was done by VonStroke and Crenshaw.
“The actual event was pretty much done by me,” VonStroke told Pollstar. “Before I started my music career, I was a video editor for Men’s Warehouse commercials. So we had Nicole and
Deron help me book it and there was a stream team to help. But I had to dig up hundreds of past Campout videos, I shot all the 15 color team leaders’ portions, the master of ceremonies presentation in front of our green screens, I shot opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, cheers, dancing segments. Then I had our graphic artist Chema make 18 different animations that would overlay, so a green bird would fly across the top of the screen and say ‘Green team get hyped!’, or a red team person would hop onto the bottom-right corner of the screen and do dance moves. [I did] all the Couchout logo stuff … Basically, I would just sit there and edit the entire day during Couchout and every hour I would go live with a leaderboard of where the colors were; there was this whole cabin getup and I was on a couch in my Daniel Boone outfit.
“I wouId introduce the next act, say what team was in the lead, go back to the show and start editing again, and I did that for seven days. And if we got enough subscribers I would DJ a renegade set at the end of the night, so I ended up doing six renegade sets, some of which went until 5 a.m. because people would keep subscribing. So I worked really hard, it was like 18-hour days.”
For her part, Crenshaw handled much of the logistical, business, sponsorship, and communications support. She estimates that to stage the event Dirtybird was processing about 200,000 emotes per day, which over the course of seven days led to 1.4 million emotes.
The Couchout drew 5,000 new subscribers to Dirtybird’s Twitch channel and logged 750,000 views and approximately 15,000 new followers in 10 days, but the organizers were most proud of the opportunity it provided members of the Dirtybird community to engage with each other, the label and the artists.
“People don’t really understand the Dirtybird community if they’re not in it,” Crenshaw said. “The fanbase is just rabid. How do you communicate that to someone who hasn’t seen it before? It’s a very tight-night community of people that love each other [and music] and they’re super positive.”
VonStroke added, “To everyone curious to see what this is all about – just check it out, it costs you nothing.”
The community’s home base for the last several months has been the new Dirtybird Live TV Network on Twitch that hosts 40 hours of content every week, including includes comedy, yoga, cooking and, of course, live music.
VonStroke, like so many others, went into a kind of hibernation for the first several months of the pandemic, but has since emerged and Dirtybird has grown increasingly active since. Much of 2021 remains up in the air for everyone, but Dirtybird plans to return to an IRL event in October 2021, though the precise dates may have to move to accommodate another large Southern California festival rumored to be staging over two weeks in October. The label is also planning a city-wide takeover that its community has yet to determine the location of and is aiming to host a Dirtybird CampINN hotel takeover festival in Florida next May.