Festival Season is officially underway as we move deeper into March, and CRSSD Festival Spring was the perfect kick-off for this year!
To welcome us back, FNGRS CRSSD gave fans what may be the best Techno lineup ever on a CRSSD Festival bill to date, drawing thousands to the Waterfront Park in San Diego. This edition of the event marks plenty of fond memories made over the years and CRSSD Festival Spring has plenty of fans that continue to return.
This year, MyStro slid down the freeway to capture CRSSD Festival Spring 2018 as only he can. From the lineup reveals and teases, to the late release of the WeTransfer.com bundle, we knew this edition of CRSSD Festival would be different.
It’s time to set the stage for a different approach to an event review.
First, we’ll explore the things that went well overall, and then discuss the things that the festival could brush up on to make the experience better. Towards the end, we’ll discord on acts caught over both days with comments looking behind the curtain to examine who succeeded and who fell flat.
So about them pluses…
The event managed to occupy both days with plenty of entertainment, both in the festival and at its related parties. The thematic elements are maturing, and the layout remained the same as years past. In short, here are some of the best aspects of the festival:
Drink choices were aplenty!
The four signature CRSSD mixed drinks offered everything from a “Gin & Techno” to the “Ocean View Vodka.” The “Ocean View” was refreshing for a daytime drink, given the weather. If signature cocktails had no place on your pallet but you still needed some buzzing, fear not!
Other options included the ENTER.SAKE booth, the Rosé All Day booth, or the Golden Road booth to offer up options. We ought not to forget that the event calls home to a city known for its craft brews. CRSSD helps represent; this time the festival had over 18 brews available for consumption.
There was a definite diversity in food choices that were available.
Burrito bowls, dumplings (much love to Bling Bling for these!), Monster Fries, pizza, sushi, and tacos all graced the menu. CRSSD Festival Spring 2018 provided options for Vegans as well, while numerous stands throughout offered fruit for guests who wanted to partake in a healthier option. I wasn’t able to find a good Watermelon juice stand – so for the friends that know of the tradition, it’s sadly dead.
Stage designs were as expected – good but no longer amazing.
The novelty of the design for The Palms has worn a bit, the City Steps kept it minimal, and the Ocean View stage kept the same overall layout while swapping some of the lighting elements. I noted that the LED panels used in the Ocean View structure looked great and could easily be seen regardless of the daylight conditions.
Achieving sound quality in its simplest form.
Initially, I worried the sound at both the City Steps and The Palms would remain well overpowered by the bass bins, but halfway through day one, technicians dialed the sound in. For the two sets I experienced at the Ocean View stage, I found a great, balanced sound. While it worked when I attended, I heard comments that other acts, such as Empire of the Sun, came through too soft for their fans. For what it is worth, during my festival experience it seemed the sound balanced between stages, which resulted in minimal sound bleeding.
A tasteful crossing of music styles exposed a wider base to CRSSD Festival.
The evidence of this is clear – the sell-out of both two-day and single-day tickets meant people responded to this lineup over prior editions. Beyond that, it was clear CRSSD put significant thought into the related events – called “By Day” & “After Dark.” The majority of these outside events also had numerous sellouts. That’s a huge check in the music curation the event brings, and it resonates with the audience.
The colder weather seemed to bring other fashion styles to the event.
By this, I mean the stereotyped “hipster” fashion was less prevalent. Numerous people walked the ground in punk rock jean jackets or kept bundled up for the rain that passed by early in the week. Still, others went full “industry mode” dressing in all black outfits. Expanding the boundary further includes people in colorful apparel (bedazzled Captain’s hat anyone?) and even a few in wacky “rave” outfits that admittedly seemed out of place.
Now, not everything was perfect…
I want to preamble this by stating that the festival was a great overall experience. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities for improvement exist which I want to detail below.
Traffic flow seemed to be a significant missed opportunity to improve upon.
During peak times, the entrance lines were beyond overwhelmed. Those with Express Entry still experienced an hour-plus long wait from the street corner into the festival during peak entry periods! If that’s the case, what is the incentive to buy Express Entry CRSSD?
A few simple solutions exist to solve the issues. One simple solution would be to segregate a line for Express Entry only through the entire entry process, just like Insomniac does for their VIP entrance. Another overall improvement would be to invest in more barriers to manage the flow of people in dedicated lines rather than a massive swarm up to the ID check.
The flow of people from stage to stage saw a marginal improvement.
Some layout tweaks to the bars and the eating areas improved the flow of people in general, but the overall layout still had its major cramped points. Bathrooms were choke-points where lines backed into main traffic corridors with people simply waiting for their friends. This was especially apparent near the water fountain and bridge features.
Obligation topic: prices.
Between drinks and on-site eating, I spent over $150.00. That means on average I spent $75+ a day on food and drink alone as a single person. From a minimum drink price of $11 to upwards of $30 for one small cup of sake, it feels like the attendee is surcharged out the “you know what” as part of a captive audience. I’d love to see something that incentivizes a price drop – whether that’s dedicated brand partnerships or something else. It does not feel sustainable for the event.
How to groove between the sunshine and the night sky – “So, let’s jack!”
The festival would not be the experience it was without the amazing artists who contributed to the weekend of greatness. In the end, as great as a festival may be as an experience, without the music played by the talent from around the world. CRSSD Festival Spring 2018 is no different, and this edition sparked quite a few awesome memories, just like the editions before it. Let’s examine both day’s lineups as explored by yours truly!
- Cristoph provides the foundation for the weekend with a gem of Progressive bliss. You can catch his live set in our post!
- Henry Saiz & Band deliver on the true brooding darker live Techno but remained groovy in the darkened overcast skies by the bay.
- Nora en Pure dropped everything from “Tears In Your Eyes” to Hans Zimmer’s work as the winds whipped off the shoreline during sunset
- Patrice Bäumel offers a stunning if moody Progressive set timed wonderfully between Mark Knight & Dense and Pika. We just roll deep through the City Steps with sonic ease.
- Dense & Pika sends the crowd into a frenzy with a surprisingly bouncy house set filled with classics from the like of Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here Right Now” and the seminal House anthem, “My House” by Chuck Roberts, despite some hiccups with sound output on their laptop connection.
- Charlotte de Witte brings out the drive with her set – and then lulls the crowd into some emotional darkness before pumping the energy up again. GROOVE IT GIRL!
- Cirez D – Ooohhh Eric Prydz & that Techno alias! Bring the Hype? Yes! Deliver on said hype? Oh YES! From hits like “In The Reds” & “On/Off” to remixes of Moby’s “Go” & Radioslave’s “Grindhouse,” the set weaves plenty to move your rump to. He ends the night the same way he did last time – a slight drizzle to deftly meet his beats near the bay.
- Alan Fitzpatrick dropped a booming set at the City Steps. At some points, the bass hit so hard that it kept both my eyes vibrating and the windows on the County Administration building rattling. I’ve not heard someone bring it so clear at that volume in a long time. We kept the rattle going the whole set! Even the security personnel were dancing to the boom!
- Anna came to San Diego to bring the darkness and the depth of her style of Techno. From rolling Acid lines to the deft switches between moods while keeping the drive moving, Anna brought the groove as the sun set and the winds picked up off the water.
- Bonobo offers a softer bastion for those seeking something different during the sun’s departure for the day. A subtle yet precise full band experience was welcomed by the crowd. The visuals offer the only craziness during the performance – they highlight earthen textures like stones, granite spirals, lava flows, or swamps with fireflies with some signature geometry woven in. It’s truly an experience and one I will be on the lookout for when they tour next as a band. Sadly, they stated that this performance “would be the last live show in California for quite some time” so that wait may be longer than anticipated.
- Nicole Moudaber brings her full-on approach to Moodbar on the City Steps, offering a more driving set than the last I heard at EDC Las Vegas. The bass bins rumbled with the fury of her selections. I may be more of a Carl Cox fan than a Nicole fan, but what she played greatly reminded me of the glory of Space Ibiza.
- Anna Lunoe combated those bass bins over on The Palms with her own drive. From Breach’s “Jack” to her own track “Radioactive,” Anna dropped plenty of fun grooves in her house to please the CRSSD attendees! Everyone seemed to be dancing and smiling to the return of Anna Lunoe.
- Then closeout Sasha, who unsurprisingly being Sasha, opens with a 4-minute beat-less time before doing the Progressive sound onto the crowd. Deep, dark, ethereal sounds hypnotized the ears. This wasn’t simplicity, it was a clinic on how to manipulate the psyche through sound.
Overall, FNGRS CRSSD brought an enhanced experience in San Diego.
So, there we have it. CRSSD Festival Spring was a fun-filled weekend with booming Techno, some sweet live acts, expensive food and drink, and a crowd that felt much more inclusive and less pretentious than in prior editions. If I organized my top five sets, they’d flow as such:
- Anna Lunoe
- Patrice Bäumel
- Alan Fitzpatrick
Returning to Waterfront Park in a colder atmosphere felt like it blended into the festival brilliantly.
The mood and energy that CRSSD Festival Spring 2018 shuffled through the attendees was successful and engaging in a few new ways. Certainly, prices on fares inside the event could ease, but overall, the festival continues what it does best – bring a unique mood and atmosphere to Southern California and offer it in a format easy to consume.
Could the festival improve? Most assuredly. The experience is engaging, so let’s perfect it against the issues that still percolate through. I look forward to the next edition in the Fall CRSSD!