By: Corey McComb
October 10-11, 2015 // San Diego Waterfront Park
Bringing an eccentric mix of EDM and indie rock back to downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park, CRSSD Festival was met with open arms, bare feet and glittered bodies. Fitting nicely between the city skyline and the harbor’s pirate ship sails, it’s hard to imagine this festival being held anywhere else.
While the organizers stayed true to everything that made the inaugural weekend in March earlier this year successful, they did make a few logistical changes in order to enhance the experience, as well as to avoid another $65k invoice from the city for proverbial grass stains from round one. Three stages stood in a single file formation, which helped minimize various acts from bleeding into each other and created a sense of uniqueness at each area of the festival. Water park fountains were flowing this time around, which did not go unappreciated, as the heat encouraged festival-goers to dunk their heads and dance with toes in the water.
Day One got off to a slow start with the high temperatures keeping the masses away until later in the afternoon; acts like SWIM performed wonderfully on the main stage for, well, the lawn. But as the sun relaxed, the bodies began to pour in. Green strobe lights took over and the Land of Oz came alive.
By 5pm The City Steps stage was covered with chemical grins and the shortest of shorts as we splashed and spun around to Bob Moses, whose dark and sexy house music managed to cool down and seduce the crowd.
Psychedelic rock’s favorite son The Flaming Lips busted out everything from dancing mushrooms to frontman Wayne Coyne’s plastic, crowdsurfing bubble, but still played to a thin crowd. While they did have Jamie XX to compete with (one of the most talked about performances of the weekend), the legendary Lips meager draw makes me wonder if CRSSD will be bringing back acts that have been around longer than the average ticket holders age. Remixing “Sexual Healing” and La Roux’s “Bulletproof”, Norwegian DJ Kygo used his good looks and funky brass sections to talk down the sun and draw the largest crowd of the weekend.
For those of us that needed a break from the perpetual “untz untz” happening at the other two stages, TV on the Radio provided much needed live instrumentation and a high energy set to close out the weekend. But it was Banks who stole the show for me, performing Sunday night. Strutting sultry vocals across the main stage, her sound produced a wave of ecstatic peacefulness that even had the palm trees swaying.
By the end of Day Two, it’s obvious why a full year wasn’t needed before staging a CRSSD Festival encore. With 30k attendees recorded at March’s festival, it looks like everyone has returned and told all their friends, and who could blame them? Even with thousands of half naked, snapchatting millennials running around, the Waterfront Park radiates a relaxed and inviting environment.
CRSSD knows that these festivals are collaborative endeavors, and they are relying on more than the musical line-up to make it memorable. With at least half the crowd coming from LA and San Francisco, it would appear that it’s more than San Diego’s California burritos that spike tourism. The weather, postcard skyline, and laidback vibe are a big part of the conversation between the EDM community as they decide on where to spend their festival budget. Watching the sunset reflect off the historic administration building and onto the boats, I wonder, “Is San Diego destined to become the next music festival epicenter?”