This past weekend Southern California house and techno aficionados came together at the Waterfront park in San Diego to prance, dance, and drink craft beer at the bi-annual CRSSD Festival. I hadn’t been back myself since my trip in March of 2016 for their spring addition and honestly, not much had changed in the year and half I was away. The festival may be in its seventh instalment, but it’s not changing or growing too fast to fit the crowds.
Instead, the festival remains the same small size with three stages: The Palms stage, focusing on house artists; The City Steps, which brings the techno fans together; and finally, Ocean View, the Main Stage featuring live musical acts. Dancing at these well curated stages over the weekend as the sun set behind beautiful ships along the water I realized that since attending my last CRSSD I had become completely and totally immersed in this culture we refer to as “festival season.” I realized that the bi-annual nature of CRSSD represents a huge shift away from it being a “season” and into festival-ing becoming more of a lifestyle for us here in So-Cal.
CRSSD has been a huge part of that movement here in California. This year alone they pulled in a ton of artists I was excited to see again and artists who became discoveries for me. For example: the main reason I decided to attend CRSSD was to see Dixon. For those of us here in the States he just doesn’t play enough. Catching one of his sets is always a gift and I knew I had to be at City Steps to see him throw down some of that elusive Dixon techno. The hour before there wasn’t another artist I was dying to see so I headed that way early with my beer and slice of Spicy Pie. I found myself surrounded by friends I hadn’t even known were coming out and listening to amazing techno. I checked the lineup and noted it was Floorpan I was getting down to. As I mentioned to my friend how much I was enjoying the set he pointed out to me that it was in fact a father daughter duo… instantly my mind was blown. It was such a solid reminder that this music spans generations.
The Palms stage, adorned with hanging parasols and palm leaves, is the first sound one will hear upon walking into the festival grounds and is my favorite stage to dance during magic hour, as the sun sets. On Sunday I caught The Black Madonna as the sun’s final rays let go of the sky. Her set perfectly pulled us from day to night as her lighter disco sounding tones faded into a darker bass sound. This was my first time seeing her play and it totally changed the way I listen to her music. She was playing for us. It didn’t matter what she may have planned out, she was so involved and attentive to the crowd. Every song felt like a gift she had chosen to keep us grooving. Her set blended perfectly into Hot Since 82 and they even kept the fun going playing b2b for a few brief moments which carried the energy from one set into another.
The Ocean View stage is where all the live acts and bands perform. The great thing about this stage is that it invites in those who may not listen to so much electronic or house or techno music. A lot of these artists are closer to the mainstream which allows for an introduction to be made between two different music communities. Every single artists who graced the Ocean View creates music that makes you want to dance, plus the element of having a band curates a unique type of energy which is truly contagious. One could see this in the performance of the group Broods — although they have a more mellow sound the energy and lyrics kept the audience engaged and grooving. Cut Copy stole the show at this stage, however, playing all their classics including: “Hearts on Fire”, “Out There on Ice” (one of my favorite songs of all time), and of course “Lights and Music”. Cut Copy is actually one of the bands that pulled me into the world of house music. Their steady beats and gentle ooooh’s on every track create a danceability similar to that of house music. The amazing thing about CRSSD is that it’s almost a mini Coachella where one can hear an amazing Indie band like Cut Copy and then bounce 20ft away to see a legend like Richie Hawtin close out the night. It’s truly magical.
Now we have to wait until spring for another edition of this amazing micro festival in the heart of San Diego; but, just as the festival ends during the day and the clubs around San Diego host evening parties, the same is true for the rest of the year. In fact the FNGRS CRSSD organization has events planned at Spin, Bang Bang, and other San Diego venues through December including: Guy Gerber, Kölsch, MK + Lee Foss, and many more. CRSSD has helped grow San Diego into a house and techno hub— alongside LA it is a reminder that this kind of music has taken root here in Southern California and is here to stay. The music combined with the endless summer we experience here is the reason “festival season” has simply become “festival lifestyle”. These people you dance next to at one show you run into the next weekend at another. They become your house and techno family. The music brings us together and the good times keep us together. It’s not just a season of camping festivals anymore or of city festivals — but a community of people who gather to dance weekend after weekend. The dance floor is our community center and we come here to reengage with our true selves so that we can go out week after week and make the world a better, brighter, and more connected place.