CRSSD Festival Fall 2018
Having debuted in 2014, CRSSD Musical Festival has quickly become a scene favorite. Taking place in Downtown San Diego, it is easy to see why. CRSSD Festival is a homegrown music festival made for lovers of House & Techno, by lovers of House & Techno. As an added perk, the festival even features live acts as well as some Indie-electronica. Set to the backdrop of Pirate Ships, Ocean Views, Palm Trees, and the San Diego City Steps, the Waterfront Park venue is unlike any other.
While there are other music festivals whose venues are set in the hearts of their respective cities, few can pull it off the way San Diego‘s CRSSD Festival can. Set only one mile from the airport, and within walking distance to the nearest train station, travel to and from the festival is as easy as can be.
CRSSD is held twice a year, once in the Spring, and a second time in the Fall. It is spread across three unique stages, each with their own contrasting styles & genres. You have The Palms, which featured a wide mix of House & Tech House, The City Steps, which featured a majority of the lineups Techno, while Ocean View which is where all of the live acts where staged.
On day one, I walked into this musical wonderland absolutely blind. I thought I had prepared myself, as I had looked at photos & videos of past CRSSD events, as well as read some reviews. Little did I know, I still had no idea what to expect. As always, I checked out the lineup beforehand and made a list of who I wanted to see. I made sure to jot down names like Dusky, Dillon Nathaniel, Thomas Jack, and Louis The Child. Little did I know that this attempt would be futile.
The line to enter was not too long, I moved pretty quickly, and for this, I was as happy as can be. It took me mere minutes to get from the festival’s sidewalk entrance to the search volunteers. It wasn’t until I ran into these people that I had what I would consider my biggest inconvenience all weekend. After being searched, I had to throw away my favorite lighter, as well as my imported Japanese chapstick. After this, my hand was stamped and I was ushered in. The wait to get in was no more than 10-15 minutes, all the while I was basking in the music from the nearby Palms stage. This was going to be fun.
The CRSSD Festival Experience
I entered the festival grounds, & immediately started exploring the venue that I roam about the next two days. I checked out the vendor’s area and was thoroughly impressed by the craft beer section. The Spacedust IPA was more than enough to keep me away from the Stella Artois that I typically fancy, and when I got tired of that, the Mango Chelada that they offered blew my taste buds away.
There was also a large section dedicated to food, which I made sure to frequent over the course of the two days. The local eatery Bang Bang featured some top-notch cuisine. There were multiple times I found myself heading back to the booth, in search of some more sushi. Having lived in Japan previously, I tend to hold the food I encounter outside the “Land Of The Rising Sun” to a higher standard. To this, I give Bang Bang the nod, as it more than satisfied my hunger.
For Us By Us
As I explored the grounds, one thing that immediately stuck out about CRSSD Festival, was the fact that there is no designated VIP section. While of course, you have backstage and artist areas, those are different. This isn’t the type of music festival that you go and flaunt your status at. Everyone is one in the same, and it’s all about the music. I find this fascinating, as the focus on “the music” is something that I think has been on the decline in recent years. Festivals and promoters alike have instead opted to focus experiences & vibes, rather than the music, which is actually what is supposed to provide such things. This issue is definitely one thing that the people behind CRSSD do not have to deal with. It is evident they are able to build a unique festival experience, without sacrificing the integrity of their lineup, or the music.
Throughout the day I feverishly ran around the different stages, meeting friends, making friends, and catching the acts I had made a plan to see. This last part didn’t exactly go as planned, but this actually worked out in my favor. While I did still catch snippets of Dusky and Layton Giordani, I spent a lot more time watching DJ’s I had little to no knowledge of. These were people like Darius, Sofi Tukker, and Hayden James. Darius absolutely killed it, creating a vibe that actually was pretty hard to walk away from.
Thomas Jack blew me away, slaying the dancefloor with his mesh of funky tropical vibes which would often transition to straight house, and right back again to his signature sound. Will Clarke brought the heat as always, bringing the Dirtybird sound he is known for. After this, I zoomed over to the Ocean View stage to catch the one set of the day that I could not miss, and that was Louis The Child. With a slot time of only an hour, the Chicago based duo made the most of the time and left the crowd wanting more. I had never seen them prior to this, but didn’t stop me from making my way through to the crowd and dancing my heart away to their hit record ‘It’s Strange’. After Louis, I spent the rest of my nights walking around chatting, enjoying the ambiance. I made my way to the exit but was caught in my tracks by a DJ Set from George Fitzgerald. I ended up staying here the remainder of the night, and I couldn’t have had it any other way.
Day two of CRSSD was what I had been looking forward to from the get-go. A majority of the acts I wanted to see would be playing then. These were names like Anti-Up, John Digweed, Flight Facilities, Claptone, Yotto, AC Slater b2b Jack Beats, & Mija. This time my planned schedule went without a hitch, as I was able to catch everyone I wanted, minus Flight Facilities, as their set crossed over the same time slots as Anti-Up, John Digweed, and AC Slater/Jack Beats. In the buildup to my scheduled sets, I ventured around the grounds not staying at a particular stage too long. In doing so I managed to catch an eclectic mix of House music from Melé, some sweet Techno from Pig & Dan, as well as a bit of Elderbrook‘s set.
My Cant Miss Sets
The first set on my schedule I was able to catch was Mija. Known for her ability to read a crowd, I think she had her work cut out for her. Not to take anything away from her, but as I said before, this festival had a heavy demographic of attendees who know what’s up with this side of the dance scene. From the crowd reactions she got during her set, it’s easy to see that she smashed the dance floor. I didn’t finish watching Mija, but this was only because I could not miss Yotto. The two DJs played nearly identical timeframes with a mere 15 minute offset between the two.
As I left the Palms and headed toward the City Steps, I could hear the beautiful Arpeggios that Yotto’s music is known for. To this, I could hardly contain myself. As deep as the Anjuna veteran’s music can be, it still contains more than enough melody to keep you vibing. You can easily tell the rest of the crowd was feeling it just as much as I, as there wasn’t a single still pair of feet in sight.
The Good Stuff
From Yotto we left to check out AC Slater‘s b2b set with Jack Beats. Since leaving the stage from Mija’s set, the crowd had only grown in size. It was easy to see that this was one of the weekends most looked forward to sets. Now I’ve seen Jack Beats before, and I’ve heard stories of how AC Slater was the best set some of my friends have EVER seen, but I still don’t think I was prepared for this one. For nearly an hour & a half the two absolutely demolished the dancefloor. Playing out what seemed like their whole discographies, this one felt more like a house party than a festival set.
I had no intentions of leaving the stage, as Anti-Up was next in line, but nature calls. En route to the restrooms, I managed to sneak in a bit of John Digweed’s set. Just like many times before this, he demonstrated why he’s known as of the best in the scene. I wish I could have stayed longer, I would not let myself miss Chris Lake & Chris Lorenzo‘s debut performance.
The duo of Chris’ played together at EDC earlier this year. However, this was their first official gig as Anti-Up. During my time waiting at the bathrooms, I explained to a group of fellow first-timers, that Anti-Up was made up of Chris Lake & Chris Lorenzo. After this, I could see the excitement in their eyes. It was awesome to see them head towards the stage as well. For an hour and fifteen minutes, Anti-Up destroyed the palms, hypnotizing the dancefloor with tracks both new and old. I am pretty sure there was a couple of new Anti-Up ID’s in there as well. The moment I heard the familiar bassline start to play, I lit up as I knew what was coming.
After dancing our hearts away to Anti-Up, we made our way to the ocean view stage. Here we checked out Big Wild. This was one of the best decisions of the night. On the way there we checked out Matador, who was slaying in the usual fashion. Having missed a good portion of the set due to being at Anti-Up, it made me happy to catch Big Wild drop what is easily his biggest track in Aftergold.
After vibing away for a bit to Big Wild, and then Bob Moses, we made our way towards the exit. In doing so we caught a bit of Mind Against and ended the night off with Claptone. This was a vibey one, and it saw the mysterious DJ leave the crowd in awe.
To wrap things up, my first CRSSD Festival was a pleasant one. I read about past events and how trash was an issue. While they did still have those silly tent trash cans, the grounds didn’t seem to be too littered with garbage. At least not any more than you would come to expect from a music festival. Everything from the lineup, set times, even the order that the acts played in was set to a tee.
The folks behind CRSSD Festival really seem to have this festival thing perfected. It will be awesome to see if other festivals/promotions will pick up on some of their methods. Regardless if they do or not, this shouldn’t change the success that CRSSD has seen. We can pretty much guarantee that this festival will only continue to grow with time.
With this having only been my first CRSSD Fest, I cannot wait to come back for my second. With that being said, I am super excited that this is something that occurs twice a year. This means I won’t have to wait too long for this to happen again. See you next year!