[FESTIVALS] CRSSD Brings the Darkness to San Diego with Cirez D, Gesaffelstein, Tale of US & More
A little more than a year ago, if you saw “CRSSD” advertised on a flier, you may have thought the creators never learned the full alphabet in grade school. Fast forward to the present and this novice festival is one of the most highly anticipated events of its size in the United States, despite being only on the verge of its third installment. Birthed by the well renowned Goldenvoice and the SoCal party organizers FNGRS CRSSD, CRSSD is contemporary, forward thinking, and everything but mainstream EDM.
Its past lineups have included a mixture of electronic and live acts that encompass all parameters of dance music, from Empire of the Sun to Zhu to Maceo Plex and Danny Daze; the first event was a crowd-pleasing mixture of world class talent, while the second erred slightly on the live, groovy side of the sonic spectrum. This March installment, however, boasts my favorite lineup yet; it’s chock full of the decadent, dark electronic music I love.
It may seem contradictory to some that CRSSD, which has become known for its amiable atmosphere, would host the same DJs who haunt the decks at clubs like Brooklyn’s Output and even Berlin’s infamous Berghain. Some may ask, But isn’t the picturesque Waterfront Park more suited to the lilting, tropical notes of Kygo? Yes and no. I appreciate the stark contradiction of dark and light; I revel in the irony of listening to Ben Klock’s relentless techno surrounded by palm trees and ships keeping watch in the harbor. But you’re a writer, and it has no words–where’s the depth in this music? Techno is the farthest thing from shallow; listen closely and there’s a whole ecosystem in those beats, a life in the sound that is so much more tangible than all of that uplifting bullshit. My kind of music doesn’t make you forget about your troubles, it makes you examine them and confront them. It evokes a carnal and intrinsic stimulation that borders on aggression and parallels sensuality. It isn’t telling you what to think, it’s telling you to realize that you are thinking, that you are alive and you realize it more poignantly with every strike of your shoes to the beat. It personalizes without words, so your own interpretation is the only one that matters here.
So while CRSSD offers some amazing talent of the sunnier, lighter variety–such as Gryffin, Odesza, and Poolside–my artist spotlight focuses on that dirty house and dark techno. Read on for a few established all-stars and up-and-comers you don’t want to miss this weekend:
The first and most obvious pick, but the almighty Eric Prydz has just permanently raised the bar for live shows with his EPIC 4.0 tour, and his malvolent alter ego is even better. Prydz teased EPIC crowds and their afterparties with murderous tracks like “Bauerpost” and “Century of the Mouse,” rare treats for ravenous fans given his extensive (and often unreleased) track library. I am curious as to what type of production Eric will bring out for the festival, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up to see the 3D cube. Cirez D performances often equate to dark rooms and minimal to no production, which is certainly what those fans who were lucky enough to get a ticket to his afterparty at Spin on Saturday night will experience. Spin is the only club in San Diego that stays open long past the 2 pm curfew, so I’m betting he won’t get kicked off the decks until the wee hours.
Dubbed “the dark prince” of techno (and quite possibly the sexiest man alive), Mike Lévy – Gesaffelstein to you and I – is somewhat of a rare sight on the west coast. After his crowning live Aleph performance at Coachella last year, many mislead music addicts who believed it was the Frenchman’s last performance ever were left wanting more of his alien-esque, assaulting sounds. Despite his unquestionable skill as a producer, merely listening to Gesaffelstein’s music does not begin to do it justice. You have to feel it to believe it, and you won’t want to miss his Saturday set at Ocean View Live.
JO is one of the most talented and, until recently, underrated producers of progressive house, techno, and everything in between. His sound treads the line between light and dark, exploring the space in between with exquisite detail. He’s capable of producing both melodic, progressive anthems like “Love Druggie” as well as the driving, deep “Pinkerton.” Although he has been a standout on the Pryda Friends label and gained some recognition from their dual Essential Mix in 2015, Jeremy launched his own Vivrant label’s tour at the beginning of this year and his finally blazing his own trail. Historically he plays an afternoon set at festivals, but I hope CRSSD will give him a twilight slot this time around. Although it’s a time commitment, his Stockholm Lo-Fi set is one of my go-tos.
Tale of Us Maceo Plex
Although I know everyone was stoked to be carried away by Tale of Us’s deep, emotional vibes, I really couldn’t think of a better replacement than Maceo Plex. He’s in my Top 5 DJs (favorites, not just for this festival) for damn good reason, so get yourself over to City Steps for his 2 hour closing set Sunday night. Conjure Sex, though…
It’s impossible not to mention this hometown girl on our list of must-sees at CRSSD this year. Not only is she a resident DJ for FNGRS CRSSD at my second home, Bang Bang, she’s quickly become a staple opener at many Southern California events in the last year. Her minimal techno and tech house productions have also found a home at Richie Hawtin’s esteemed ENTER showcases, and he doesn’t let just anyone on the bill. I’ve seen Lee K throw down everywhere from a sizzling noon set at Splash House to the ENTER tent at Escape, and she always puts on an impressive show. She’ll likely have one of the first time slots, but it’s worth getting to the venue a little earlier to catch her spin.
This Berlin native turned LA resident has been playing European clubs for years, but we’ve only recently seen his name start to appear on bills for large scale shows and festivals. His energetic, funky blend of booty bass and tech house has affiliated him with the Dirtybird crew, and he fits right in. After seeing him spin an impressive club opening set for Ardalan earlier this year, I’m looking forward to see what kind of game he brings to the festival circuit.
CRSSD Spring ’16 Media Bundle
CRSSD has partnered with the world’s leading file transfer platform, WeTransfer, to gift fans a package of goodies to serve as their pregame soundtrack to the festival this weekend. Download the media bundle here for music and graphics from the likes of Ardalan, Cassian, JO, and Odesza.
Just because CRSSD ends before midnight doesn’t mean the party does. FNGRS CRSSD consistently books several top-notch acts from the festival to perform at San Diego’s go-to venues, which have even included a boat party with Thomas Jack and Pete Tong. This year, head to the chic Andaz Hotel rooftop deck to see Ardalan and Poolside, the local techno mecca Bang Bang for Jamie Jones and Loco Dice, or Spin to get really weird into the early morning with Cirez and Claude Von Stroke. Afterparty tickets can be purchased here.