Written by Jordan X. Kausin
Photo by Jordan X. Kausin
At a Glance– Located in historic downtown, Santa Cruz Music Festival emerged yet again for round five on February 18th and 19th, 2017! This year’s two-day banger was held on a mile-long stretch including more than 12 venues (The Catalyst Club, The Blue Lagoon, Streetlight Records, Motiv, Woodstock’s Pizza, Felix Kulpa Gallery, The Food Lounge, 99 Bottles, Rosie McCann’s, Pono Hawaiian Grill, etc). The pool of 15+ stages offered a smorgasbord of performers including bands, DJs, and so much more! This year’s headliners were none to sleep on and brought the grimiest energy. I mean… Louis The Child, G Jones, AND Troyboi?! Just close your eyes and picture the Catalyst Club’s roof blown off because that is exactly what went down. Contrarily, due to weather restraints, the outside park and family portion of SCMF had to be canceled. Womp!
Music genres: West Coast Bass, Trap, House, Folk, Rap, Rock, Reggae
Crowd type: Combination of rave bunnies, musicians, vagabonds, and party enthusiasts!
VIP available? You bet!
Food: VIP only (Other food found in easily accessible restaurants along Pacific Ave)
Water stations: Yes
For The First Timers –SCMF is held on the astonishing mid-Cal coast with a plethora of feasible travel accommodations at hand for those in need. Hotel, motel, Airbnb, you name it! Thankfully, any means of transportation to and from Santa Cruz will deliver insanely beautiful views, making it quite easy to get comfortable here. For those seeking to fly, both the San Jose and Monterey airports are a quick pump away, travel adding up to just under an hour.
Why go VIP?– In my most honest opinion, the life of SCMF was in the exclusive backyard style VIP section as well as the VIP balcony viewing areas/bars. Most festivals that I have attended with VIP ticket options usually do not make the experience worthwhile. Give it up to SCMF for serving VIP patrons well!
SCMF VIP perks entailed:
- Expedited venue entry (where actually granted)
- An exclusive balcony viewing section at the Catalyst
- Silent disco and bar in the Catalyst Atrium
- A private VIP area offering an open bar, unlimited pizza, a taco bar, and pre-rolled joints dispensed by a local marijuana dispensary. (YES, A BUD BAR! Many props to Santa Cruz’s very own KindPeoples!)
Things to do–
- Stage/venue hop
- Silent disco
- SCMF Panel Discussions (Topics: State of Santa Cruz, Sustainability, Music Industry, Cannabis, etc.)
- Browse street vendors
Musical Highlights–For those who were actually fortunate enough to weasel their way in and make it on time to see the headliners, the heavily shaken sets were well worth the wait. Louis the Child served the crowd their familiar pop and future bass fusion and even managed to throw in a heavy justice-esque track during an unplanned encore. I did not know what to do with myself! Day two seemed to display much more rap over the span of main stage set times, including Zion I and Scarub (who by far KILLED the game!). G Jones soared right in with his deliverance of self-proclaimed “trippy broken bass music” that had everyone floored. And Troyboi, who practically hopped on stage and melted our faces off from start to finish with pure trappy glory, had an energy level out of this world. The morph of the dubstep orchestra and dancers was just what SCMF needed to send us off swooning.
Room for Improvement– As SCMF strives to support local artists and talent of all sorts, it was sad to see the insane amount of carelessness in regards to an orderly, quality, and successful event. Maybe the gloomy weather set the vibe, but it seemed as if most security and event staff were so on edge and defensive, leading to tons of unhappy campers.
- SCMF seemed to well oversell general admission tickets, which left the majority of attendees stuck outside of the Catalyst (the most desired venue where headliners performed) in the rain for hours on end only to be turned away at the door. With such sale exceeds, the Catalyst hit capacity by 7 pm every night leaving hundreds of people to take a huge loss after sincere festival investments. Many reports said security was impatient and aggressive to the point where police were called to escort upset attendees from the line wrapped around the venue and threatened with arrest. Lame.
- Exceeding capacity led to the lack of crowd control. Sooner than later, security was so wrapped up in trying to keep rules and regulations in not-so-fair play. Sadly, by the time G Jones’ set time approached and he was supposed to be granted stage access, his set was pushed back and cut short and practically everyone was upset. And to really top that off, the same situation happened with Troyboi.
- Simple precautionary measures to avoid the majority of the large issues could have been taken, and I truly wish to see more effort next year. Keeping track of the good ol’ one in, one out method would have worked fairly well. And also, major help would stem from ticket sale monitoring. From a personal perspective and optimistic/thankful basis, I can truly say that I had a blast at SCMF only because: 1. My VIP/media credentials excused me from any lines and wild, jam-packed crowds and 2. I still merely had access to amazing music and people who were all on a mission not only to have a great time but to also BE a great time.
The Bottom Line– I strongly encourage anyone to purchase VIP tickets if it is at all within reach and affordable! Not to mention, I’d rather be treated like royalty over cattle any day, but that’s just me! Ha! With all of the chaos that went down, I do have faith that SCMF will get their ducks in a row and better coordinate an event with all of the potential naturally laid out down in beautiful Santa Cruz.