The music industry is in a current state of economic flurry as we notice promoters across the globe attempting to capitalize on the festival business, specifically with electronic music. It has always been true that music is a universal art able to impact the largest of audiences, but in the past 20 years the music festival experience has grew into something way bigger than anyone could have imagined. With dollar signs involved, it is no wonder why almost every festival looks to book the massive names for their lineup. There has been an enormous amount of backlash from underground music culture, those who notice their favorite festivals wasting money on overpriced DJ Mag Top 100 acts. It is at this crssroad where we found FNGRS CRSSD, a San Diego based company that successfully changed this ideology to prove a point with their first annual CRSSD Fest.
We entered the gates on the first scorching day of the festival to the Ghetto House sounds of Wax Motif. The Palms stage attracted many at this hour because of its cool umbrella shaded dance floor. The festival's 21+ age restriction allowed for open access of several bars lined throughout the grounds which included some awesome seasonal craft beer. There were palm trees scattered across the path to the main stage where many festival goers found comfort in the complimentary Fatboy beanbags and carpets making for a chill spot to hang in between sets. As if that wasn't cool enough festival attendees could be seen playing frisbee and other games across the main stage field early on while everyone was settling in.
We stuck around the palms for the most part catching a nearly two and a half hour set from Fool's Gold artist Treasure Fingers. His set contained a bunch of freaky deep house tracks with the majority of it influenced by robotic sounds of the 1980's. Finally we hit up Amtrac's set at the City Steps, a stage named after the San Diego city department building that was conveniently placed in between the festival and the Pacific Highway. After entering a deep trip within Amtrac's eclectic taste of minimal dance music, we finally hit the main stage for STRFKR. Their performance was almost like a sound track to the start of a crazy party. People all over the surrounding main stage area were vibing to the music while they went about grabbing drinks and meeting friends. Hearing the chill psychedelic sounds of this group gave off the perfect waves of excitement to fit the scenery taking place at CRSSD Fest.
Most EDM festivals would consist of DJs spinning the same Beatport Top 10 tracks throughout the night but CRSSD went completely against this booking one of the most diverse range of acts in the electronic realms.
If you were at the Ocean View Stage you were able to see airplanes landing every so often in contrast to the Palms Stage where pirate ships were visible in the distance. From every angle of the festival grounds a new mosaic background lined the horizon making every moment feel like an exotic postcard. So far CRSSD Fest had almost everything we could ask for but one thing that made them really stand out is the transition between main stage acts. See most festivals would put you to sleep as they played some random reggae playlist between acts, but CRSSD had KCRW resident DJ Jason Bentley come out to drop a set instead. And to make it even better his set began each time with a giant Wheel of Fortune style wheel with different themes listed including tropical house, 90's RnB, all Australian music, all Daft Punk, and even all David Guetta. So with each transition of artist Jason would pick someone from the audience to spin the wheel creating one of the most interactive festival games we've ever seen.
So finally the sun began to set during Classixx as they performed music from their beautiful Hanging Gardens record as well as a few remixes. From there the night took off as we hopped around stages catching set after set of mind blowing goodness including Aeroplane, Hot Natured, and James Murphy. Out of all of the sets from this day Giraffage definitely surprised us the most. This kid came on with the most charisma as he effortlessly dropped tracks from his No Reason EP as well as countless throwbacks including Darude's Sandstorm and his beautiful interpretation of Alice Deejay's Better Off Alone. He sprinkled in some trap bangers throughout the set while constantly making the crowd giggle at his use of Soulja Boy's "You" sample from Crank That. By far the best moment of his set was when he dropped his remix of R Kelly's Ignition because it pretty much summed up his position in the industry, which is a forward thinking artist who holds the ability to work a crowd into complete chaos. It was the moments like these that made us surrender our idea of a modern music festival to CRSSD's genius selection and placement of music.
The Palms Stage closed out with a funky futuristic set from Kaytranada, one of Soulection's biggest artists. But we took off about half way into his set to meet up with the Australian gods that have become one of the most renowned festival acts of our time. Empire of the Sun did what they do best by bringing an energetic experience full of mystical interludes and exotic cinematography. It was a surreal way to end the night and we knew we had to keep their spirit alive throughout the rest of the weekend.
The next day we arrived to the festival early and took a seat on the steps of the fountain by the Ocean View stage. With our feet in the water, sun in the sky, and a cool mist splashing around, we were in the perfect setting to groove out with Big Wild. Their remix of Odesza’s Say My Name hit home for many of the festival goers. Finally Slow Magic hit the stage for one of our most anticipated performances of the weekend. He took our emotions on a musical journey with his remixes of Doja Cat's So High and Odesza's Waited 4 U. He was able to capture an interesting live performance with his jungle style drumming of electronic pads and live toms on stage. Finally he dropped his track Girls where he managed to pull a drum off stage and bang it as he walked through the audience. This type of engagement is something unique to his show making it a truly magical experience and a great way to kick off the day.
Next up we caught Trippy Turtle who once again proved to us how f*cking awesome jersey club can be. He brought these vibes with banger after banger of abstract and danceable rhythms with the mixing abilities of a king. He gave us a load of jersey remixed throwbacks that worked the crowd in motion from start to finish. We caught this kid a few months ago at Snowglobe in Lake Tahoe which was a vivid contrast to the sunny setting he played at CRSSD. Whereas most DJs will repeat a lot of the same transitions and tracks throughout a tour or festival season, Trippy's set contained some different material yet was just as entertaining. Right now this guy is at the forefront of Jersey Club and if you ask us he's doing a damn good job of representing it.
The next honorable mention goes to possibly our favorite act of the weekend... it seriously gives me chills just thinking about it. Lido is a Norwegian artist who's been earning his ranks as one of the most insane producers around releasing track after track of colorfully produced future bass music. After noticing how quickly both of his Los Angeles shows sold out I knew this was one artist I had to see at CRSSD. I had no clue what to expect and arriving at his set I was immediately impressed by the amount of gear he had circled around him, which included some electronic drum pads, synths, sample trigger pads, and a full sized keyboard. Lido steps on stage and begins the show with a piano ballad striking some smooth jazz chords while singing a beautiful melody. His show continued with some bass heavy tunes and an incredible performance that felt extremely alive for the type of music he was dropping. About halfway into the set he describes how this show is completely original music and that he did not intend on telling the audience what to do like the majority of EDM DJs do at festivals.
It was hard to believe that this is what CRSSD gave us for a main stage act, it was something no other festival could even dream of doing. Once again we bowed down to whoever arranged the lineup and set times because it was moments like this that made CRSSD Fest stand out above everyone else.
The rest of the day consisted of a a main stage performance by controller enthusiast Robert Delong as he played hits from his indie electronic debut album as well as some new ones from his upcoming release. The sun finally began to set as we caught the legendary techno masterminds Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler going back to back at the Palms Stage. Both of these guys are headliner worthy on their own and the fact that they were placed together at this hour made complete sense as we entered their world of funky minimal house music for a two hour set.
The event closed out with phenomenal sets on the main stage featuring some of the top acts on the festival circuit: Odesza and Chromeo. Both acts delivered talent and wisdom as they smashed their way through the end of this musically eclectic weekend. We could seriously talk for days about each set at this event because each and every one brought something different and enjoyable to the table. Most EDM festivals would consist of DJs spinning the same Beatport Top 10 tracks throughout the night but CRSSD went completely against this booking one of the most diverse range of acts in the electronic realms. You didn't walk around here seeing bros trying to turn up- instead we the saw the smiling faces of music lovers appreciating the art for what it was. We live in a day and age of money hungry promoters and DJs doing everything they can to pull the biggest audiences but on the opposite end of the spectrum there's an entire scene of artistic performers ready to share their passion with the world. CRSSD set out to showcase this type of talent and in return they were able to pull off one of the most successful music festivals we've ever seen. What happened last weekend was a statement for the music industry and we look forward to seeing a wave of change in the ways of modern music festivals.
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