Story by: Jordan Calvano
Photos by: Amanda J. Cain
For many cities around the United States, March is still a time of cold conditions and threatening black clouds. For San Diego, it’s simply another excuse to step outside and soak up 85-degree days.
That was the case this past weekend when CRSSD made its triumphant debut on the grounds of Waterfront Park, offering those who attended a perfect balance of delicious food, tasty ass beer, and a diverse lineup for two blissful days. Most importantly though, there was a massive fountain in front of the main stage.
CRSSD was basically a summer style festival in the middle of spring. You walked up and immediately spotted the Pacific Ocean just feet away, and any concerns about the immense heat or the fact that you spent way too much on an Uber quickly dissipated. Then you walked by multiple stages delivering consistently fresh house and techno beats, surrounded in every direction by bars and even a craft brew stand. Mission one was purchasing as much Grapefruit Sculpin as possible before it ran out. This beyond satisfying beverage wouldn’t last long, so those that knew what was good for them made haste to IPA Island.
Next stop was the magic fountain. There was no time to think, just drop all of your earthly possessions (except the Sculpin) and let the free flowing water mask the sun burning down on your neck. In this exact moment, Goldroom and his highly-talented live band starting dropping the nostalgic anthem “Fifteen,” inducing one of those “Is this what heaven is like?” moments where festival nirvana begins to kick in. Time to ride this wave, and head on over to The Palms where house vibes runneth over.
The first offerings were provided by Treasure Fingers and Klangkarussell, with a little bit of Amtrac mixed in at the conveniently located City Steps stage. This was perfect for the indecisive type. Two stages placed directly next to each other, leaving room for a little bit of B2B action directly in the middle if you really wanted to get creative. Maybe you were suddenly feeling classy and wanted to get down on some oysters. That was an option. Others took the short walk over the Spicy Pie, and munched on some of the realest pizza in the game.
The food coma was real, and the need for a short nap started to set in. Perfect timing too, because lying on the ground is really the best way to enjoy a Thomas Jack set. You can pretend to dance once trop house hits, but taking a “Jack Nap” is a much more logical solution. Once you realize that you aren’t dreaming anymore and he really is dropping “Africa” by Toto, there is nothing left to do but leave at full speed and inhale more Spicy Pie before taking on the night.
Beyond a genre-defying set from Haitian-born producer Kaytranada at The Palms, it was all about the Ocean View stage for the rest of day one. This was the best place to take in the sunset, along with an assortment of vibrant sets from Classixx, Hot Natured, and Empire Of The Sun. Many festivals have been catering more to artists who stick with the traditional DJ routine, but CRSSD took the opposite tact with instruments and live acts ruling the mainstage. It might be a while until other festivals truly take notice, but it was certainly a step in the right direction and an obvious move to stray from the EDM formula.
Day two continued this routine, boasting slightly cooler weather with a much more scorching lineup all around. Highlights at Ocean View included spirited performances from Slow Magic, Lido, Robert DeLong, Flight Facilities, and Chromeo, each bringing their own unique blend of live instruments and electronic production to the upbeat audience. There was a certain sense that you could have stayed at the mainstage all day, and having to leave meant missing even more talented artists. Not to mention separation anxiety from the ever-flowing fountain and the only set of bathrooms.
Regardless, it was impossible to deny the omnipresent barrage of dance-worthy tracks going down at The Palms throughout the day. Like a gatling gun of house music, festivalgoers were treated to unrelenting beats from SNBRN, Bixel Boys B2B Viceroy, Pleasure State, Jamie Jones B2B Seth Troxler, and Dirtybird favorite Justin Martin. Once again, leaving this stage was a massive struggle and usually resulted in a single-tear with hands reaching out to whatever artist was currently bringing the feels. We once tried to walk away and heard “Don’t Go,” and had no choice but to stay a little longer.
CRSSD round one has come and gone, but there was no denying the impact it made on those that attended. The festival found a way to provide balance in every way, giving crowds a diverse serving of music against a backdrop that included a skyline and ocean in either direction. Certain sections made it feel like a city festival. Other areas provided enough trees and abstract stage design to make it feel like you were partying in the nature. This balance gave CRSSD its own unique aesthetic, and is the building blocks for what we can imagine will be another successful southern California throwdown.
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