Bursting the EDM Bubble: A Review of CRSSD Festival

*written by Crystal Garcia for Electronica Life
Brian Feinzimer
(photo by Brian Feinzimer)

A few months back when the first phase of the line-up was announced for CRSSD Festival, I immediately knew it was exactly what we Southern California music festival junkies needed in our lives. A break from the generically expected line-up, big-room drops, unnecessary confetti blasts and DJ’s that only actual words are “put your hands up in the air.” I have to agree with Lorde when I say that I’m kind of over getting told to put my hands up in the air, so there.

Taking place over 2 days on waterfront property in beautiful downtown San Diego last weekend, the inaugural edition of CRSSD festival turned out to be everything I already had in mind and so much more. With bayside views, dreamy sunsets and city backdrops, the festival landscape was a picture perfect scene that would have made even any seasoned world traveler jealous with envy. Throw in the mix of live performances, on point music, and beaming good vibes throughout the entirety of the weekend, and you’ve got festival utopia in the heart of downtown.

Day 1 of CRSSD began on Saturday with a speedy entrance and straight to the mainstage dedicated to live performances aka “Ocean View Live” stage for my first time seeing Goldroom live. After a few failed attempts to see Goldroom in LA that just never worked out for one reason or another, I was beyond thrilled to finally see Josh Legg and the band do what they do best. Performing their signature sound of mellow and easygoing tracks such as “Embrace” and “Fifteen”, Goldroom was easily the ideal performance for a spring breeze blowing on an oceanside sunny afternoon.

Damian Lazarus and the Ancient moons took the stage next with black and gold robe getups that fit perfectly with the techy, cosmic sound inducing a dance coma on every single body in the audience. As I glanced around, I noticed one girl having the time of her life wearing a shirt that read ‘music is the answer.’ I made it a point to give her a high five, because how can you not salute someone so in love with music and life, right?

After grabbing a beer from one of the many craft beer vendor tents, I made my way to the Palms Stage for a dose of tropical house with rising star in the scene, Thomas Jack. The Palms shade structure was a much needed break from the relentless sun of the past few hours, and fittingly adorned with shaded umbrella decorations. The sun slowly set in hues of lavender and soft pink over the ocean horizon as the atmosphere turned from day to night and the venue seemed to be at full capacity.

Closing out Saturday back at the Ocean Live stage was Empire of the Sun in an eclectic performance fully equipped with per usual over the top production, glitzy costumes and supporting back up dancers. Passing passenger planes landing into San Diego airport seemed almost a little too close for comfort while making an interesting backdrop for one of my favorite performances of the weekend. At one point I remember hearing others around me asking each other “ what is happening right now?”, and began asking myself the same thing as the show was so visually stunning that it was difficult for the mind to grasp what lay before it.

(photo by Oliver Walker)

Day 2 of the weekend festivities seemed to flow in a more relaxed state, it was Sunday after all and the lazy afternoon feel was teeming throughout the grounds. Learning my lesson from the day before, I opted to beat the heat this time around and not enter the festival until around four o’clock when I knew the California sun would soon be taking it easy on us festival revellers.

The performances of Day 2 were saturated in deep and funky house and techno, and the vibes were fitting just right bringing on a whole new meaning to Sunday Funday. The Bixel Boys and Viceroy b2b opened with a rendition of Janet Jackson’s classic “Together Again” which turned out to be an unexpectedly fun crowd pleaser. Classic hits and groovy oldies were dropped for the next hour during the b2b, setting the tone right for the night at The Palms.

Soon after Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler hit the decks for their much anticipated B2B. Call me crazy, but I wasn’t mind blown as I had expected to be. The pair went for a darker and more textured sound than I’m used to hearing. Although I don’t believe the set was fitting for an outdoor daytime festival, it did make for a great set to watch as the sun set and the night stars began to twinkle.

For yet another and the last B2B of Day 2, Maceo Plex and Shal Ocin took over the City Steps stage closing out the weekend in a head bopping fury. Deep and contrasting sounds reverberated through the speakers, and as far deep as I could see, not one body in the crowd was still. The energy was so infectious, leaving all within its reach no choice but to move and groove. As the party ended and we slowly trailed to the exits, I overheard a few say that it was the set of the weekend, and with this statement I would have to agree 🙂

It’s truly inspiring to see a brand new type of festival sell out in it’s first year without any so called “headliner’ booked, and I full heartedly believe CRSSD festival is the revival the dance music scene in Southern California so desperately needed. If this is the needle that will burst the predicted “2015 EDM bubble”, count me in for the ride. The scene is changing, slowly but surely. Together we’ll get there, one CRSSD event at a time.
brian(photo by Brian Feinzimer)
brian2(photo by Brian Feinzimer)