There must be something in the water at CRSSD Festival because my dancing feet would not stop moving and grooving to its sunshine beats and bumpin energy all weekend long.
My feet you ask? Well I literally danced in a fountain both days at Waterfront Park, home of this sophomore darling indie electronic festival that I can’t get outta my mind.
I’ve now enjoyed both episodes of this phenomenal San Diego event. From my river dancing skills to the rich underground and seasoned talent, this year was even more vibrant and vibing than the last. I have to say, this is truly the new way to enjoy a couple days of dance music. There's no turning back.
The mermaids and Kybros were out in full force, finding their step with packs of friends in the blistering sun, enjoying tequila and pineapple nectars and citrusy craft beers to cool them off and loosen their limbs. Booties were shaking, backs of necks were sweating, and sunglasses and grins were glistening in the summer-ever sun. The crowd was perpetually flowing in motion to the pacific ocean waves in the distance.
The 21 and over crowd wasn’t there to just party, they came for the tunes, they came because their good ear knew the good stuff, and boy did they get it. The thirst was quenched for a festival stacked with well appreciated, true musicians and movers in the electronic scene as it had earlier in the year, but this time I believe there was an effortless confidence and flow to the experience.
King Zhu In His First Royal Appearance
Zhu has been on fire recently with new tracks from his Genesis Series dropping weekly, but that's not all fans have been excited about. He recently debuted a new live show which, of course, has captivated fans with his completely original performances. He dropped the curtain at CRSSD to reveal this bigger, wild veil with a live guitarist, sax jammer and guest appearance by up and coming crooner Gallant. This appearance alone should put CRSSD on the map and solidify Zhu as one of the best electronic performers in recent years. The R&B tinted electronic epic which I believe featured live vocals from Zhu himself was seductive, controlling and constantly erupting our senses while keeping that sexy smooth sensibility about it. It was my set of the weekend along with most of my friends. Incredible.
Bob Moses At Sunset, The Way They Were Meant To Play
My favorite new artists can’t be put in a genre classification other than sexy panther house. These nocturnal beasts known as Bob Moses got the time-slot they deserved, playing at the perfect crossover hour at sunset. Despite early sound issues with the speakers, the gents enveloped the crowd in their slinking blend of dark house and jazzy pop guitar and vocals. Everyone in the crowd was hypnotized by the duo shrouded in smoke, singing every word to their new hit “Tearing Me Up” and grooving to their new and old jams. CRSSD understands how and where an artist is supposed to play and because their lineup is often on an even plain with each other they can give primetime slots to artists that deserve them.
The Layout Was Chill As An Otter Pop
With only three stages to choose from you didn’t have too much ground to cover, especially since they were laid out b2b2b of one another down a single line. There were no tight spaces or clustered bathroom lines, no pushing and zero stressed out patrons. The only thing I heard was a bit of a headache was getting in on Sunday but I blame the festival goers for arriving too late. Plan ahead like CRSSD did so well and you’ll be fine. I definitely think they made some big improvements with the layout and the fact that I went from Jamie XX to Anna Lunoe to Flaming Lips and back to Anna Lunoe all within fifteen minutes shows just how "easy like Sunday morning" it was to get around.
Kygo Was Enjoyed In The Perfect Setting
Although the Zhudes and Zhudettes were loyal to their king, the Kybros and Kygals showed up with the biggest crowd and loudest singing voices. Kygo in the past year and a half, riding off his Soundcloud tsunami wave like a viral Laird Hamilton, has replaced Avicii at Tomorrowland, closed out Coachella against Drake and makes headlines on the regular for his tunes and turnings but nothing was better than soaking in his tropical groove under a cotton candy oceanside sunset. It does not get better than that and the huge, adoring crowd was two stepping like toucans and partying like pelicans.
The Darty Surprises of Jai Wolf and Bicep
Sunday may have been an overall better day of music thanks to the daymaker delights brought about by the likes of Jai Wolf and Bicep, both of which I didn’t expect to catch but stayed for the entire set. They played very different styles and what started as a sparse crowd at the beginning of Bicep quickly became a swarm of funktastic footwork with partygoers hearing their blend of disco tech house from a distance and tightening up their party pants for some of the best dancing of the weekend. The stage was then set for the next up Jai Wolf and the young gunner from NY brought one of most explosive energies blending his own ripping tracks and a handful of Flume thrashers to boot. I love surprises and these two artists were highlights of the weekend.
The Fountains of Youth
Along the entire east side of the festival are ankle deep fountains that ended up being the single greatest fest feature of the hot hot weekend. We danced around in the them the entire Jamie XX set, enduring “The Splash Monster” who’s blitzed conscience decided it was a great idea to scream out “splash zone!” every five minutes and go trudging around splashing everyone. I gotta be honest it felt good. I had seen Jamie XX five times this past year plus change and it was certainly one of the best thanks to the tranquil vibes of the fest fountains.
Maybe I am getting old but I don’t have much of an appetite for the build up, hands up, let me hear you scream, 1, 2, 3 WOMP WOMP, cue smoke cannons, EDM life anymore. Am I just an old dog or are y’all feelin me here? It feels a bit like groundhog day, same thing over and over and I’ve definitely noticed even the big massives moving towards a mix of both live acts and the classic big roomers. This underground blend of off kilter electronic acts and sub genre megastars at CRSSD is what makes it so great. There are no Dillon Francis or Calvin Harris names to be found and because of that no kids just there to take drugs and blast off into the laser lathered stratosphere. In fact I didn’t see a single laser all weekend. The crowd and the talent are there because they play and enjoy incredible quality music. It is attended by peeps who really care, pay attention and study the tunes coming out today. For that I applaud you all and am honored to do jellyfish dance moves alongside you.
The San Diego Harbor
That moment when a cruise ship blasts its horn and it blends perfectly with Biceps bumpin beat like it was done intentionally. The party captain knew what he was doing and it was a moment I’ll always remember in my CRSSD goings. With a backdrop of cruise ships, a tall ship, planes landing and the big blue Pacific it made the festival feel like it was a floating vessel itself. Where we were going wasn’t important because the ride was just too much fun.
I'll Have Seconds
Many wondered why FNGRS CRSSD, the geniuses behind the event decided to throw a second CRSSD Fest just 7 months after the first was thrown. Some may have even wondered if it was coming back at all after hearing about damages done to the host park. I think the magic of this whole thing, is that there are so many artists out there that people would want to see at a venue like this, in a setting so beautiful and accessible, and with just 15,000 people in attendance, it’s manageable enough to handle two takes a year. I really hope they keep this double dipping up because it’s the perfect way to get your bass tan on for fest season in March and the ultimate comedown from it in the fall.
I thought overall this version was a better executed and curated experience than the last and I’m so proud of all you for dancing like baby turtles with me. Cheeyooooo!
Photos by Felicia Garcia, Skyler Greene, Gabe Tiano, Fixation Phhotography