Photos and story by: Jordan Calvano
If you’ve ever been to What The Festival, you know that the name perfectly suits the experience. Sure, it possesses the word festival, but it’s definitely so much more than that. The initials WTF perfectly sum that up, becoming a series of words you will be saying constantly when exploring the grounds of Wolf Run Ranch.
Maybe it’s the massive silhouette of Mt. Hood that sits right behind the main stage that has you saying or thinking WTF. Or maybe it’s the splash pool, which just gets more crowded and rowdy throughout the week. Could it be the art exhibits you see in The Illuminated Forest filled with a late night stage, Mario Kart, and a massive net laden with kids climbing up it like monkeys? Whatever it is, we can guarantee you’ll experience moments just like this, but that’s the beauty of What The Festival. We went, we made friends, and yes quite possibly drank too much PBR, but we survived the festival and lived to tell our story.
Trippy Turtle: On the first full day of music at What The Festival, it was Trippy Turtle who truly got the pool party poppin’ for the first time and set the bar high for the rest of the weekend. The Norwegian producer quickly walked up to the stage, slipped on his ubiquitous turtle onesie covered with fake diamonds, and then let loose an abounding supply of bed-squeaking jersey club that had everyone in attendance losing their minds. Trippy jumped back and forth between his own tracks including “Furthest Thing,” “Wet,” “NaNa,” and “Trippy’s Anthem,” alongside classic hip-hop and R&B vocals from artists like Beyonce, Spice Girls, Migos, Ace Hood, Jeremih, and Miguel to really keep the party raging. In the closing moments of his set, the audience witnessed Trippy drop Disclosure and S-Type remixes from his Lido project, leaving arms swinging through the air and water splashing everywhere.
Cashmere Cat: Following stellar performances across Wolf Run Ranch from Opiou, Break Science, Giraffage, and Kaytranada, it was due time for Cashmere Cat to close out the Effin’ Stage in style. The fellow Norwegian spend most of his set working through original tracks off his Wedding Bells and Mirror Maru EP including crowd favorites like “With Me,” “Pearls,” “Rice Rain,” and the title tracks off both releases. Beyond that, Cashmere unleashed “Party Girls,” “Afterlight” from Rustie, and an extended play through of his Miguel remix to close things out. The soft-spoken producer said very little while performing, but made up for that by gauging the audience with a bed squeak solo in true Cashmere Cat style. It was melodic, it was sexy, and even his good friend Trippy Turtle stood by and enjoyed the show.
Kygo: At every festival, there is always one artist that everyone just won’t stop talking about. People play his music, they talk about how he is about to blow up, and they obsess over his set. For What The Festival, it was clearly Kygo. The third Norwegian phenom (you might be sensing a theme here), was the true hero of the pool party on the second day, rocking a blissful set in between Bronze Whale and Viceroy that left radiant smiles on the faces of everyone in attendance. The 22-year-old Bergen resident let loose a tropical and vibe filled set, touching heavily on well received remixes of artists like Ed Sheeran, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Syn Cole, Seinabo Sey, and Marvin Gaye, alongside dance-worthy gems from Kasbo, Cosmo’s Midnight, and Snakehips. The flow was there, the energy was palatable, and it was clear to everyone that Kygo’s ascension is very much kicking into full gear.
What So Not: On Saturday night of What The Festival, the trap and hip-hop vibes were definitely flowing heavily wherever you went. This including jaw dropping and electrifying sets from G Jones, gLAdiator, and Luminox on the Effin’ Stage, alongside 808 laden performances from HeRobust and RL Grime on the WTF stage. Tucked in between all this madness was a memorable What So Not set provided by Emoh Instead, bringing the heavy Australian goodness underneath Oregon’s star-filled night sky. Emoh continually kept things interesting and the crowd on their toes, hitting the audience with What So Not favorites including originals like “Jaguar,” “High You Are,” and “The Qwop,” alongside their fiery take on “Get Free” from Major Lazer. In between all this was a plethora of different styles, touching on songs from Kanye West, Outkast, Jamie XX, Rustie, Cashmere Cat, and multiple songs from the collection of fellow What So Not member Flume including “Holdin On” and his tenacious take on “Tennis Court” from Lorde.
Dirtybird Pool Party: On Sunday afternoon, the event everyone had been drooling over for weeks finally came to fruition. Not only were four members of the Dirtybird crew there, but all of their sets were jam packed into a massive pool party that raged hard from 2-6:30. Wine was drunk, costumes were worn, and the splash pool was packed to the gills as groovy house music provided by Ardalan, Christian Martin, J. Phlip, and the man himself Claude VonStroke spewed through Funktion One speakers. It was possibly the realest and most energetic few hours in What The Festival history, and we can only hope that this becomes a tradition because everyone and their Mom and even their grandparents needs to experience a Dirtybird pool on the grounds of Wolf Run Ranch. Dirtybird for life.
Other Standouts: OPIUO, Phutureprimitive, MK, Dimond Saints, Julio Bashmore, The Glitch Mob, Vindata, Ott, and Fort Knox Five.
-Playing Ping-Pong with Emoh Instead for over an hour before his set started.
-Fort Knox Five dropping back to back remixes of Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie on the LOL stage the first night.
-Audience members snapping the bridge in between the stage and the pool during Opiuo the first day. The crew fixed it, and then it broke again during the Dirtybird Pool Party.
-Claude VonStroke and Ardalan walking around the festival grounds after they performed on Sunday and hanging out with fans.
-Exploring The Illuminated Forest each night after the main stages ended.
-Cashmere Cat standing on the corner of the pool watching Trippy Turtle perform while rocking a sweatshirt, tight jeans, and a murse on an 80-degree day. Swag.
-Watching the sunrise over Mt. Adams and all of Wolf Run Ranch.
-Eating dank food from Dump City Dumplings, Sammich, Athenas, Al Forno Ferruzza, and Get Fried Rice.
For the third year in a row, it’s been proven that What The Festival is on top of their game. The tight knit festival throws an event that people will remember for the rest of their lives, quickly strengthening the bonds of anyone who travels together while opening yourself up to meeting new people wherever you go. You have everything you could ever need in a festival. Look in any direction and you will see gorgeous mountains, splash pools, music going almost 24-7, workshops in the morning, and a forest to explore in at night. It’s basically heaven on earth, and the hardest part about What The Festival is having to leave. Fortunately, there is always next year and we will be counting down the days till we get to pack up our bags and head to Wolf Run Ranch again. Thank you to the staff, artists, volunteers, stagehands, and anyone who attended for staying positive and helping better What The Festival on a yearly basis.
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