Written by Jordan X. Kausin
Photo from CRSSDFEST.com
At a Glance
San Diego’s very own stretch of California’s Pacific Coast alongside the Waterfront Park Harbor was yet again transformed into the vibey, tropical, sun-kissed festival utopia we know best as CRSSD! This killer springtime bash annihilated the festival game as a host to three explosive stages spanning from end to end (including, water, resting places, etc. scattered in between.) Consider my mind BLOWN as the CRSSD brand took this year’s spring installment above and beyond expectations. In my honest opinion, this year’s bash blew last year’s out of the water. Attendees were presented heaps of what I wish for in a festival, from beachy aesthetics to an AMAZINGLY DEEP VARIETY OF HOUSE, techno, and the ability to bring together a community of synergetic, dance-loving spirits. So please pardon this house head as I gush!
Music genre: House x Techno (as repped proudly on the official, fly CRSSD merch!)
Crowd type: Range from younger to older festival-goers
VIP availability: None needed!
Water stations: Yes
How to get there/Where to stay- At the foot of California, San Diego may or may not seem out of reach from many places. Whether your means of travel are via plane, train, or automobile, everyone is in luck. The San Diego airport is approximately a 10-minute drive from the venue and approximately $6 Uber ride away. Driving south, the drive is a straight and seemingly short cruise down the dazing Pacific Coast Highway. Unlike my 7-hour road trip from the Bay Area last year, this year I decided to eagerly fly down on a mission to get lost at CRSSD as quickly as possible. Without delays and just a short layover at LAX, my travel time took approximately 3 hours, which was a piece of cake! Surrounding the venue within a radius of just a couple miles is a plethora of hotel accommodations, whether you’re looking to save a buck at a motel or shell out for a suite. There is simply no way to lose.
Things To Do- Assuming other festivalgoers flocked to CRSSD with the primary intention to stage hop and chase many of the highly anticipated artists in this year’s goldmine of a lineup, everything else was a solid bonus. A highlighted addition to this event was a tech lounge that exhibited an incredibly innovative new DJ controller system. This setup included sequencers and controllers, which were linked to a backpack-style subwoofer. Crazy cool, right?! Although CRSSD doesn’t offer VIP treatment, I applaud this decision because I feel it encourages attendees to partake in togetherness in such a beautiful setting. There are far too many good vibes to go around (unless you enjoy the utilization of the spacious venue grounds). There are also ample platforms to view stages from, specifically the “City Steps” at the heart of the venue.
Food- Another entity CRSSD should pride itself in is the trail of numerous food vendors that had something for every type of eater. Ranging from snack-type food (fries, fruit bowls, hand rolls, etc.) to heavier dishes like burgers, lumpia, chicken strips, macaroni, cheese, etc.), there were plenty of satisfying options. Yes, even options for vegetarians/vegans! For the boozers, multiple bars were scattered and most easily accessible throughout the grounds and served most prevalent alcohol, beer (including beer from local San Diego breweries), and wine.
Crowd & vibe- CRSSD always does an incredible job of setting the vibe just right, which is definitely enhanced by its 21+ age restriction. Thankfully, it drew a mature, friendly, and trendy crowd. The majority of attendees rocked stylish outfits including vibrant do-ups like sailor hats, dazzling glasses, cartoon themed onesies, and tons of other expressive stylings. Considering the explosively fun spirit of the festival, particularly two prominent groups came completely decked out in brand merch who showed up, showed out, and turned ALL THE WAY UP showing everyone just how to have THE ultimate blast:
- Ship Fam (A tight-knit network of Holy Ship! EDM cruise festivalgoers)
- Dirtybird record label diehards ready to jam on command
Music- Before all else, I have just three words for the hype: HOLY FREAKING HOUSE! Evidently, CRSSD’s main objective is to present non-mainstream sounding tunes for its beat-seeking guests to get lost in. Primarily, DJs are brought in to cook up some eclectic house beats with the inclusion of techno, electronica, synthpop, and other surprises.
- The Palms Stage was home to deep house, specifically dubbed as the Birdhouse, which was the home of the festival’s Dirtybird record label players. Masses of dirty birdies flocked to the Birdhouse in homage to their love for the Dirtybird players, including the record label’s mastermind, Claude Vonstroke. Claude rounded up Jackmaster, Skream, Horse Meat Disco, Cut Snake, Sonny Fodera, Darius, Latmun, Louis Futon, and Fritz Carlton.
- The Ocean View stage was the incredible exception that hosted wide-ranging artists and tunes for everyone. It showcased live vocals (Marian Hill, Alunageorge, Bob Moses, etc.), which gave the not-so-hyped attendees a chance to mellow out and enjoy not-so-explosive entertainment.
- The City Steps stage was home to most of the festival’s techno and acid house aficionados.
Notable sets & performances-
- Chris Lake: Caught by surprise, Chris Lake emerged for a set as a glorious fill-in for Wingtip. After hearing the smash hit ‘Operator (Ring Ring)’ mixed by 6+ artists throughout the weekend (I seriously lost count!), it was electrifying to finally hear the track FROM AND BY the champ himself. From start to finish, Sir Lake’s set was completely on point and had the whole crowd shaken.
- Claude Vonstroke: Father Dirtybird himself was presented the honor of closing the festival out with a full, glorious hour and a half set. While ecstatic for him, huge fans of both Claude and Flume like myself were put in a tough situation choosing one or the other… So I made time for both!
- Flume: The ever so humble but rousing Flume stunned us all as his set began with a flash and smoky silhouette of the electronica prince himself. During his well deserved 90 minute set, he took us on an illuminate journey through many feels and bangers including ‘You & Me,’ his infamous mix of Lorde’s ‘Tennis Court,’ ‘Drop The Game,’ ‘Say It,’ and a SO MANY MORE originals and other mixes including my personal (trap) lord and savior RL Grime’s ‘Scylla.’
- Louis Futon: Before seeing Louis Futon live for the first time at CRSSD, I knew his work resonated with so many feelings within me, but his set was beyond a refreshing, straight-to-the-feels type of experience. To top his set off, he brought out the angelic-voiced singer, Ashe, to perform popular tracks including Shaun Frank’s ‘Let You Get Away,’ and three new unreleased tracks! Jaw = dropped.
Room for improvement- As every event always has room for new additions and improvements, there are just a couple that stood out at the CRSSD camp. Louder speakers are a MUST at the main stage. The sound wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t up to par with other main stage amplification I’ve heard, which is essential. Perhaps the placement of extra speakers in the mid-section of the crowd would be great! Another necessity is a better weather shelter station, as proven on day 2 when it rained cats and dogs for about half an hour. Even a lounge just to relax in for shade or rest would be nice!
- No “oversized” backpacks (12”x12”) because they DO strictly enforce this rule. I find it a tad silly that they do not check the sizes at the gate and turn attendees away/force them to throw their backpacks out. It’s seriously a bummer. Also, don’t even fathom bringing in cigarettes or any smoking devices because security is present and will single you out.
- Age restrictions: Sorry, kiddos! Must be 21+
- Don’t think about sporting rave-like attire! CRSSD Festival strives for a more mature and less party animal vibe.
- Lines can be wild, especially if you’re not early, so plan accordingly!
- As the coastal nights wind up frigid, be sure to pack a jacket!
- Considering the festival’s curfew is certainly earlier than most other events, party seekers are strongly advised to plan ahead and get tickets to the pre-parties and after-parties ASAP or possibly end up SOL!
There is no other fathomable event I could I have kicked festival season off with. This round of CRSSD spring was exceptionally executed and I am so fortunate to share my experiences and help pave the way for others to enjoy it the next time around. As a festival veteran, it is events as such that remind me what it takes to construct a badass festival: soul-shaking beats, the camaraderie between other like-minded festies, a stunning location, and a solid squad… CRSSD.
Until next time!