Breaking down the success of the inaugural CRSSD Festival
CRSSD Fest may very well be the answer to the bursting festival bubble. This past weekend, the inaugural event — a joint venture between Goldenvoice and FNGRS CRSSD — sold out its 15,000 person cap at San Diego’s Waterfront park.
With the amount of pre-festival hype behind CRSSD, it seemed plausible enough for the event to perform as well as it did, but when you consider the fact that it was a 21+ festival, outside of Los Angeles, with a lineup lacking any conspicuously ‘EDM’ acts or ‘superstar DJs,’ it’s an impressive feat to say the least.
While non-EDM dance music festivals in the US are nothing new — Movement and Lightning in a Bottle come to mind — CRSSD was, in many ways, a bridge for fans of the rave and EDM scene into a cooler, less commercial space. By booking some of the more buzzed about upcoming electronic acts of the moment — people like Lido, Odesza, Giraffage, Bakermat, and Thomas Jack — CRSSD attracted the newer generation of dance music fans born on blog-house, Spotify playlists, and YouTube tastemaking channels. Yet at the same time, it provided something of an underground paradise for house and techno heads, bringing legends like DJ Harvey, Simian Mobile Disco and Lee Burridge into the mix. By merging these two audiences in a beautiful, bayfront space, CRSSD gave birth new a kind of festival, and the response in the wake of the event speaks for itself.
In many ways, CRSSD Festival resembled a WMC Miami. Palm trees, sunsets, a clean city skyline — it was near impossible not to conjure images of Bayfront Park. The scorching 90-degree weather cemented the comparison in place, yet one must also draw parallels to Goldenvoice’s famed Indio event, Coachella. As CRSSD reiterated multiple times, this was not a rave, but a festival, and the vibe was clear from the moment you walked into the park.
The first day of CRSSD kept things on the lighter side. Pete Tong’s All Gone Pete Tong stage was a constant source of delectable grooves. DJ Harvey’s set was likely the most engrossing of the day, providing the perfect cooldown in the late afternoon heat, but Pete Tong’s sunset set was assuredly close-behind. Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons made their festival debut, delivering an exceptionally exotic performance, while Hot Natured and Lee Burridge lit up the late-night stages.
The second day of CRSSD boasted an arguably stronger lineup. After a smooth performance from George Maple, Lido was an early favorite. Playing 808s with keys, melodies with drumsticks, and singing atop it all, the young Norwegian proved his musical prowess on the main stage. Of course, things really started to heat up when Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones carried us into the night, bringing out the acid and techno for one of the more technically impressive DJ sets of the weekend. As the sun set over the beautiful bayfront skyline, the best performances were still upon us with Simian Mobile Disco b2b Roman Flügel and Odesza to follow. Yet, CRSSD ultimately gave credit where credit was due, leaving the final window for Maceo Plex and Shall Ocin’s back-to-back set: a two and a half hour display of the most gratifyingly techno of the weekend.
CRSSD Fest proved a lot of things. For one, festival tickets don’t need to be exorbitantly priced. Secondly, 21+ festivals can still draw the masses (as can San Diego and its burgeoning dance music scene). Thirdly: fans’ tastes are changing — and this one is likely the most significant. With its indie-infused, underground-savvy lineup, CRSSD demonstrated the potential market for ‘non-EDM’ electronic music festivals.
As with any festival in its first year, there are going to be things to improve upon. While the layout was easy enough to traverse, the close proximity of stages resulted in a lot of unwanted sound bleed. The issue was most prominent for the City Steps stage, which found itself at the mercy of the other two stages’ bass. A secondary bathroom location would also have been ideal, but then again, one never had to wait too long in line for a stall. Ultimately these things should not overshadow all the things CRSSD did right. From a refreshing lineup, to craft beer, killer after parties, and easy entrance into the venue, suffice it say FNGRS CRSSD and Goldenvoice’s inaugural CRSSD Festival was a roaring success.
Photo Credit: Jake West