SAN DIEGO, CA - As I'm winding down from a beautiful weekend at Waterfront Park, I just can't help but think about how much greatness happened at the second ever CRSSD Fest (better referred to as CRSSDtober). The amazing Southern California weather, the view of the harbor, and amazing city skyline set the mood for two days of succulent beats and the greatest of vibes. Whether you liked to dance front and center at any stage or prance freely in the fountains, there was more than enough festival to keep every attendee fully satisfied.
We got in on the first day in time to catch the end of SNBRN who was perfectly placed before Goldroom and Le Youth's b2b set, providing a slew of chill and upbeat house music at The Palms stage. The linear festival layout made it so you'd never have to walk longer than 5 minutes to get to any stage, bathroom, water station or vendor, which was super convenient. After spending some more time at the Palms stage until sunset, we were treated to a very special b2b set performed by FoFoFadi all-stars Cashmere Cat and Trippy Turtle to get the night going.
Photo by Felicia Garcia
Once that was over I made possibly one of the easiest decisions of my life and left as soon as Tchami started to go catch Bonobo's DJ set (sorry, not sorry). The vibes at that stage were on another astral plane, but as soon as it hit 8:30 I knew it was time to see one of electronic music's most elusive and sought out acts...ZHU. His set absolutely stole the show, projecting images to a giant veil in the center of the stage leaving only his silhouette visible. His mix of old school hip hop along with deep house and live saxophone and guitar solos made it a fresh and new experience. We then closed out the first night stopping by Jamie xx, Anna Lunoe, and The Flaming Lips who were all phenomenal.
Photo by Felicia Garcia
After an amazing first night, I was more than excited to return for round 2. A lot more eclectic and exotic artists were on the bill for Sunday, including Nicolas Jaar, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED), and Todd Terje. Coincidentally, they became my favorite sets of the day. However, allow me to place a quick anecdote regarding a certain artist on the lineup that caused confusion in some festival goers:
If you just so happened to be at Panda Bear's set at the main stage, you were probably exposed to some unpleasant sights and sounds. After a questionable experience seeing him at LiB, I knew to avoid that set at all costs and warned my friends accordingly. Surely enough I heard word after he went on that a lot of people had no idea what they were watching and left feeling nervous and uncomfortable. Don't worry, that is what his set was meant to do. I gave that set a slight chance and watched from a safe distance, but as soon as I recognized some of the same disturbing visuals I saw from before I knew it was time to go somewhere else. If you're into that kind of thing, cool, but there's no way that I can ever recognize that as music. Moving on now...
TEED's set was packed with dirty and deep techno, comprised of thumpy kicks and minimal elements to keep the crowd dancing and focused on the beat. But since I did not really spend too much time at the main stage over the weekend, I figured I could go watch Kygo for a bit...I mean why not, right? His sunset set was definitely the epic climax of the whole day. The crowd was massive and everyone was in an amazing mood as the soothing tropical house vibes brought everyone to their proverbial happy places.
Photo by Gabe Tiano
What better way is there to close off the festival other than gettin' groovy to some Nu Disco? We caught the last of Todd Terje's set and it was fantastic. The perfect funky disco feel of the music took me back to what I imagine the '70s was like. Unfortunately the act playing after Todd, Hercules & Love Affair did not make it, leaving an unexpected break in the lineup. Not to worry though because after about half an hour of watching the stage techs set up equipment, some strange quiet and eerie noises started playing from the speakers. This was followed by soft music with some static and glitchy noises. At this point I figured that either Nicolas Jaar either started his set 25 minutes early, or they just chose some weird transition music. Surely enough, the fog machines and lights turn on and a shadowy hooded figure emerges from backstage...
What followed was easily the most unique and interesting set of the entire weekend. Nicolas Jaar is one of the most forward thinking producers in dance music. Seeing an extended set from this man was a gift from the festival gods.
Overall, this edition of CRSSD Fest further proved that they are a big contender in the festival circuit. Giving what would normally be side stage acts at bigger festivals the limelight at a prime location made for the ultimate experience for fans of music. All weekend I heard numerous people say how much they appreciated that the festival didn't cater to the main stage drop junkies who just like to get trashed at events. It's an abrasive opinion but with the controversy surrounding the scene, it had to be said. If you're looking for a more mature festival experience, look no further than CRSSD Festival.