The third edition of CRSSD Festival in two years came and went this past weekend in San Diego California. In March 2015, the festival was able to draw a sold-out crowd despite being in its infancy – likely because of a prime southern California location and stellar lineup. To many people’s surprise, the festival returned in October of the same year and though I wasn’t personally present for that edition I heard nothing but good things. Soup has been on hand for all three weekends where I’ve made it to both of the Spring sessions and this is shaping up to be quite the tradition, with more and more friends getting involved from Boston to Denver to San Francisco and beyond.
Like most music festivals I attend, the music is the main attraction, with the overall experience playing a big part in whether or not I return. Anyone who has browsed social media during and after this year’s festival has probably seen both lots of positivity, and lots of complaints. I’m going to break down the good, the bad, and the ugly from Spring 2016 as well as highlight my top-5 sets.
Without a doubt the lineup curated for Spring 2016 was the best part of CRSSD. Want an education on the underground? This was your place to do it. House and Techno to your heart’s content? Look no further. L.A. Weekly put it perfectly – when Odesza is your most mainstream act, you’re doing something right (seriously, thank God Kygo wasn’t there). The lineup was one of the main reasons I went to CRSSD last year and it’s good to see the founders are sticking to their guns with the acts they book. And I’ve surprised myself that more and more I crave quality Techno sets and CRSSD is one of the few festivals I get a proper dose.
I will note that several people I encountered over the weekend didn’t know many artists on the lineup outside of Odesza. While this can be understood given that CRSSD is a rapidly-growing festival, it did bum me out that I had to hear it. Oh well, party on… a vast majority of the people who came out to play were highly educated in the outer realms of dance music culture and that’s something I can get behind.
Special shoutout to the Palms Stage. That shit was awesome! A really fun lineup played The Palms and it was garnished by a huge amount of lush green forestry which I imagine would have been a ton of fun to play in front of.
Probably the most common complaint coming from the folks who dropped their hard-earned cash on this festival was that the sound was waaaaay too quiet. I’m joining the picket line for this one, as I couldn’t agree more. Live music should be played loud. Part of the experience of going to a music festival or even a one-off concert is being able to not only hear the music, but to feel the music as well. And when you’re at a music festival centered around four-on-the-floor beats, there is absolutely no excuse for quiet sound.
Maybe it was pressure put on the festival organizers to keep sound within the grounds of the event and not leaking into the downtown area of the city, or maybe it was an attempt to prevent sound bleed from one stage to the next, but it was really disappointing that the only good way to experience the music was by standing directly in front of speaker stacks (pretty much the only time I wore my ear plugs). For example Gesaffelstein playing on the main stage should have been BUMPING but his performance was diminished by having the feeling you were overhearing a set rather than experiencing it.
My plea to the festival organizers of CRSSD: do something about the sound. Turn it up, hire more-capable engineers, set up more speaker stacks…. whatever you have to do, make it worth our while next time!
In a general sense I’ll say logistics. Notably two things: the entrance process and the bathroom situation. I have never seen more of a cluster fuck with people trying to enter a music festival. I have no idea why the lines to get in were so long or why it took some people close to an hour to get inside. There’s nothing worse than having your excitement drop off so steeply because you have to inch your way up to a security check point to get inside. Absolutely atrocious.
Bathrooms…. okay so they added some more since last year, but these were also a cluster fuck. Long bathroom lines are usually a problem at music festivals, but combine that with some sort of maze set up near the main stage for bathroom entry made it ridiculous to try and find something that was open. I heard people stopped drinking at the festival so they wouldn’t have to deal with the bathrooms as often… if CRSSD wants to increase its liquor sales, maybe they’ll do a better job with the bathrooms.
One final logistical complaint – what was up with changing the bag policy from day one to day two and not notifying anyone about this? Bags can’t be larger than 8×8 on Sunday? Is that what God said on the 7th day? How the hell are we supposed to know this?
Logistically, CRSSD has some work to do. Keep bringing in amazing talent, keep setting the festival at 21+, but please take a serious look into the organization and the engineering behind this prime time music event that is still clearly undergoing growing pains.
Top Five Sets
- Julio Bashmore – I originally discovered Julio at the Sunday School Grove of Electric Zoo, back when it was still a good festival. Couldn’t tell you who the DJ was, but someone was playing “Au Seve” and that one track stuck with me for a long time (I still play it in my DJ sets to this day). I finally had the chance to see Julio live at HARD Summer 2014 and I was blown away. He played a massive Tech-House and Techno set that rubbed me exactly the right way. This past Sunday Julio showed us his range in musical prowess. I arrived to the Palm Stage where Julio was laying down Disco Funk, then progressed into soulful House and ended with Techno. He was using both vinyl and CDJs and had the crowd in a frenzy. Go see him!
- Lee Foss – this was probably one of the best sets from Saturday. I was kicking myself for missing Lee’s Holy Ship set after listening to how good it was, so I made sure to see him at CRSSD. Well I was not disappointed. There was plenty of fun, bouncy House music and plenty of dance floor destroyers, all from the underground. Foss is a true professional when it comes to House music and this set helped to prove why.
- Cirez D – fresh off Eric Prydz’s EPIC 4.0 set here in San Francisco, I wasn’t making him a top priority at CRSSD as Jamie Jones was playing at the same time and I always love Jamie’s sets. However, when my primary crew all went to Odesza, and I needed 4×4 beats in my life, I met up with my Shipfam crew all at Cirez D and that is where I stayed for two full hours. Eric Prydz will always be one of my favorite producers and DJs and it was so much fun to finally see an entire Cirez D set. The Techno beats were bangin and although things are a little hazy, I know I had a blast.
- Loco Dice/Hot Since 82 – Two House, Techno, and Tech-House legends. They played at the same time on opposite stages which meant I had to split my time between the two. I can’t really say enough here, as both laid down smooth mixing and upbeat tunes. Any time these guys come around I will be there to dance my pants off.
- Claude VonStroke & Green Velvet as Get Real – Claude VonStroke closed out the Palms Stage on Sunday night and Green Velvet played a set a couple hours prior. I had a chance to meet Green Velvet and naturally I asked if the two of them would play together. He simply shrugged and said “I don’t know”. Well, as I was off enjoying Maceo Plex I received a text from my friends saying Get Real was on and I ran over to join them. The set, while only lasting about a half hour, was fantastic, playing old school and new school hits, having all four CDJs going, and Green Velvet doing some of his half singing/half rapping. There couldn’t have been a better way to close out CRSSD festival, especially with them dropping the massive tune “Mind Yo Bizness“
Until next time CRSSD – thanks again to the folks at Infamous PR!