Earlier this year, Pasquale Rotella (CEO of Insomniac Events) announced that, “Our strategy moving forward is that we don’t want to book the [big] guys.” The statement astounded fans who have been accustomed to the lavish settings and lineups of EDC, but shortly after the company booked Hardwell, amongst a number of other big names for their southern California party, Beyond Wonderland, the opportunity for change became buried by the same momentum of their typical festival seasons. This paved way for the success of CRSSD Festival – the joint venture of Goldenvoice and San Diego based events company FNGRS CRSSD. Rather than booking the typical big names of EDM hype  and encouraging fans to veer away from “rave attire,” the festival provided a techno oasis seeded in the music, and nothing but good vibes.

Upon walking in the festival the first day, despite the 95 degree heat, fans rejoiced in what was like walking into the picture of a southern Californian postcard. The grounds were riddled with palm trees and fountains that guests could happily dance and cool off in from the heat. While the stages were lined up seemingly close – SOS the bass had terrible bleed – it accounted for a magical visual experience. On one side of the venue was the beach and a pirate ship, while the other side lay parallel to a gorgeous view of downtown San Diego.

What was most astounding and successful of the event, were the people you found yourself surrounded by. The crowd contained the air of a tiny dance music-based Coachella, and every one of the 15,000 people who attended CRSSD’s first year had a wonderful essence to them.

On Saturday the artists breathed the essence of beachy disco vibes, while Sunday brought heavyweights to the stage – especially on the main stage where fans found themselves seemingly glued to their spots, one set after the other. While every performer had something special to bring to the CRSSD family, these are the moments, sets, or stages that defined the forward thinking festival.

Sunset Sets — Imagine painted in the sky are colors of pink, blue and purple. The sun glows and riddled in the warm colors are clouds that un-mistakenly resemble cotton candy. And as if they had expected this visual magic all along – which we’re sure they did, the CRSSD guys heightened the moment by scheduling the perfect performers for the sunset sets. On Saturday, guests had the opportunity to choose from Thomas Jack, Pete Tong and Classixx, while on Sunday the split was between Flight Facilities, Simian Mobile Disco b2b Roman Flugal and Jamie Jones b2b Seth Troxler. Each set had something unique to offer fans, and while it would have been nice to experience each and every one of them – fans found themselves glued to wherever they were, overtaken by the beauty in front of them.

B2Bs — Just like any festival, b2bs have a sort of prestige amongst the number of other amazing acts slated for an event. In CRSSD Fest’s case though, the b2b sets available to experience were just down right dirty. Techno was the name of the game, and Sunday showcased the three b2bs the festival had to offer. Jamie Jones b2b Seth Troxler started off the coveted sets and was closely followed by Simian Mobile Disco b2b Roman Fugal on the adjacent stage. The two sets had slot times for the extravagant San Diego sunset, but it ended up being Maceo Plex b2b Shall Ocin whom truly took over the b2b gimmick. The crowd piled up quickly despite running head to head with Chromeo, and when tired guests tried to leave the festival grounds they somehow found themselves in the middle of the crowd shuffling until the very last beat of the weekend.

Pete Tong All Gone Stage and Boat Party — From noon to 11PM, Pete Tong All Gone mesmerized crowds into dancing for hours. The stage showcased: Lee K, Nina Las Vegas, Kill Frenzy, Infinity Ink, Amtrac, DJ Harvey, Pete Tong, James Murphy DJ Set and Lee Burridge. Every performer on the stage had their own flavor, but true highlights of the stage were: DJ Harvey who got the crowd ready and grooving, Pete Tong because – well duh, and James Murphy who played around with disco, and yes, spun with vinyl. The best part of the stage though was that after the festival ended the party kept going only changing simply the atmosphere and moving to sea. The boat party was headlined by Thomas Jack and of course, Pete Tong, taking the first night of the festival straight into the morning.

Ocean View Live Stage on Sunday — The same fans that tease house heads for being glued to the "main stage" at a typical EDM festival, found themselves glued to CRSSD’s own main stage. But this fact only proves the magic that is, bringing fans back to the music – back to our roots. With a main stage focused on live music, CRSSD went beyond showcasing the ‘big’ names of EDM culture, to tunneling our minds and ears to experiencing the reality of actual performance. Artists that performed on the stage included: Erick Diaz, Big Wild, Slow Magic, George Maple, Lido, Robert Delong, Flight Facilities, Odesza and Chromeo. Once again, each performer had a special quality they brought to the stacked stage, but it was truly Slow Magic, Flight Facilities and Odesza who had their crowds in awe.

Dirtybird Players — How could we forget our favorite crew? All over the festival fans rocked their Dirtybird attire, while J. Phlip brought to the fest an early crowd and Justin Martin had The Palms spewing over later in the day. Their bass heavy funk is noteworthy and coveted no matter if they’re at EDC, HARD, CRSSD or at their own BBQs. They’re always a crowd favorite, and we don't expect that to change anytime soon.

To conclude, we could mention the tedious details of sound issues at Hot Natured and Robert Delong, or the long lines endured to enter the grounds on the first day of the festival. We could also mention the fact that the free water refill stations went dry in the 95 degree weather not once, but several times. However, this was CRSSD’s first year and what they brought was more than just a weekend of memories. They brought to a culture we all know and love the thing that it has been lacking in the past several years. It brought back to us love, smiles, good vibes, but most importantly, it reminded us of why we all came together in the first place — the music.

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