If you can’t already tell, I’m horribly backlogged with writing. But I wanna catch up on some things before the year is over (and the year is already flying by!). Wasn’t it just the other day it was just January? SMH
Anyway, CRSSD. This was my first year attending it, and I wanted to give future attendees a rough idea of what it would be like. There’s another one coming up in the fall, so if you missed Spring CRSSD 2019, never fear. Another one will be here in September so you can just go to that instead.
Before the festival, here’s what I was told: CRSSD is more of an adult festival—meaning, no kandi kids (kandi is strongly discouraged in the rules) and no rave gear (or some is okay in moderation, but definitely no see-through things: pasties, thongs and going topless is a big NO-NO). Because it’s an all techno and house festival, there would be NO HEADBANGERS, no dubstep, no ‘breaking the rail’ type behavior. I was psyched. No hate on headbangers, of course. It’s just not for me personally. I just feel old whenever I try to headbang. Headbanging just means ICY HOT and TIGER BALM for a few days after. #grandmalife
My friends and I drove up there, and the journey went pretty smoothly. I possess the wonderful ability of being able to sleep anywhere, so had no problem dozing off throughout the trip. We stayed at the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Diego, a hotel relatively close to the event venue. Everything felt very new and modern—think slick, metallic designs, strategically-placed abstract art and hushed hallways.
Check-in at the hotel went without a hitch. I’m not sure why I’m always a little nervous handling these sort of things. My parents always handled stuff like that for me growing up, so as an adult, I always feel some sort of trepidation when flying/traveling without them, as if I’d mess something up.
We started getting ready and pregaming for the event. CRSSD is in San Diego and is close to the downtown area part of town at Waterfront Park. This two-day event boasted big names such as Odesza, Lane 8, Maetrik (live set), The Martinez Brothers and Stephan Bodzin, to name a few.
For the first day, I wore a sleeveless black jumpsuit with a criss-cross-lace-tie design in the front, accessorized with a black belt and silver studs. For footwear, I wanted to be cozy and comfortable, especially since the forecast had predicted a spot of rain here and there. Of course, I had to have glitter on my face. Because obviously glitter is life. I felt a little bit overdressed, to be honest, but once I got there, it was fine. Everyone was wearing fashionable, chic clothing. For the second day, I wore a green and gold duochrome longline bralette with red velvet leggings and a blue-green butterfly clip in my hair. My friend Britt also curled my hair for the second day so I felt extra pretty and girly that day. I did bring a jacket and also had a locker (that I’d split with a friend) for both days so I wasn’t really cold.
The line to get in CRSSD wasn’t too bad. Though there were a LOT of people, the line moved relatively quickly. It was drizzling slightly and my friend Angelo had brought an umbrella hat for me, so his friends and I quickly banded together comedically for a ‘umbrella gang’ photo. The funniest part is we were later joined by a different crew who had the same idea as us. We had no idea who they were but we all took a photo together. What a hoot!
Security wasn’t bad as well. They did look through my purse, which was expected, but surprisingly enough, there were no pat-downs, so that was nice.
CRSSD is definitely a ‘city’ festival. The layout was large, but not overly-so. I liked that they had two water features; you could sit by the side of the rectangle pools and enjoy the music or watch the sun set. The location was pretty close to the port so you got a nice ‘waterfront’ view. ‘Waterfront Park’ was definitely an apt name for it. There were tall concrete buildings here and there, surrounded by patches of fresh green grass. The CRSSD logo was spotlighted on the buildings and I thought that was pretty cool. Food and beverage trucks dotted the sides of the venue. The stages were very near to one another though, so of course, sound bleed was inevitable, though it was bearable. Stages were also set up quite high above the crowd. The light production was cool; lots of rainbow flashing LED lights, and the like. That being said, I was pretty impressed with how everything was run. The bar line wasn’t bad but drinks were definitely pricey—however, it WAS California, so everything there is like that. I definitely got more drinks than I should have, haha.
There were adequate Porta-Potties, so there was never really a line to go to the bathroom, which I appreciated. The vibe that Californians give off is kinda standard—I definitely saw lots of Instagram-models-type people and people dressed to kill. Lots of eye candy, that’s for sure. I didn’t see much rave-type clothing, everyone dressed as if they were going to Coachella or something. There were no totems (or at least, none I can recall.) The floor was grassy, so it’s advisable to wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty in. I’m glad I wore my boots; they were both comfortable and practical. Despite the drizzle, spirits were high and the ground wasn’t too bad as it wasn’t muddy and gross because of the large expanse of grass.
And finally the artists. I caught some of Petit Biscuit’s set, and while he was good (as I expected he would be), a lot of his set felt very alike to when I saw him play at the Van Buren in Arizona. Not sure if this was because he doesn’t have that many songs in his repertoire or if his sets are similarly-styled? I still would definitely recommend him to anyone who has yet to experience him live. I saw a little bit of Phantogram’s set but I felt like their music wasn’t my vibe at the moment so I left for another stage.
My favorite artist of the whole festival was definitely Stephan Bodzin. I’d already seen his video of his Piz Gloria at Cercle set, a set he played on a castle rooftop in the clouds, and was eager to catch him. He did not disappoint one bit. He played perfectly to the crowd, delighting us with his music. It was a truly a journey he took his audience on. What a treat. I don’t like techno (I do like tech-house though) but was later informed Bodzin’s music is actually ‘melodic techno.’ I was unaware that ‘melodic techno’ was actually a thing, but if it is, I guess I really like it! Haha.
The other artists I enjoyed were Armand Van Helden, The Martinez Brothers, and Sonny Fodera. Armand had a really groovy funky vibe, with lots of soul. I remember my friends and I shuffling and dancing hard in the grass, not a care in the world, feeling happy and alive and free. This was probably one of the best memories I have from the trip and one I will treasure always. Though I’m pretty sure at that point that was when one of my EarGasms earplugs dropped on the ground, lost beyond all hope. LOL. The Martinez Brothers (I expected them to play techno) played lots of tech-house and was really fun. Sonny played bassy and vibey house; he definitely made your hips shake. That being said, he DID play a lot of Top 40 house tracks though, haha. If you have never seen these artists before, put them on your must-watch list. Sadly, I only found one professional upload of Sonny Fodera’s set via MixMag on YouTube. The rest of the artists didn’t have professional recordings of their set. Listen to Sonny’s set here:
Leaving the place when the event ended was a little bit chaotic, so we walked back to our hotel the first night, which was a few blocks away. Perhaps in hindsight, it wasn’t the best idea, because it was definitely a long walk and our thighs definitely suffered haha. The second night we walked a few blocks away and then Ubered. We had planned to hit after parties for both days, but partying for so many hours left us drained, hungry, and tired. Somehow, other than the odd snack at the festival, food wasn’t really on our minds.
My final thoughts: I did like CRSSD; however, I felt my expectations were a little too high for it. I had a good time, of course, but end of the day, it was still a festival, so don’t expect anything too different from that. The event was very well-run and I love the all house/techno concept. I would definitely strongly reconsider going in the fall. City festivals have such a different vibe: it’s hard to explain or put in words how it makes you feel until you experience it yourself. There IS something about being by water that is just lovely. If you do go, here’s some advice: go with a good crew, BRING A GOOD PAIR OF EARPLUGS, wear comfortable shoes, prepare for some light rain and if you can, try and book a hotel nearby so it won’t cost too much to go back and forth. Most importantly, go with an open mind to listen and explore new music from artists you haven’t listened to before. I’d never heard of some of the artists I liked and was so happy to discover their sets. I left CRSSD Spring 2019 with many pleasant memories, and lots of photos to show for it (a miracle, because I never usually take photos as I always forget!). Something I loved was running into so many people from Arizona there; it’s always awesome to run into familiar faces, as well as meeting new ones. Perhaps I shall attend in the fall… we shall see. In the meantime, I encourage you to go to CRSSD at least once in your life, if you’ve never been before. Till next time, San Diego!
Singer at Drip Drop Records. Writer/Editor for Rave Hard Radio.