CRSSD was San Diego’s first foray into the outdoor electronic music festival. Spanning three different stages at the grassy Waterfront Park, CRSSD created a legitimate space for the house-loving boho hipsters and bros of SoCal.
CRSSD was a higher-end iteration of the music festival scene with a pristine location, quality food, and good production value. Festivalgoers danced to groovy electronic, synth, and house sounds all weekend under the palm trees and blue skies of San Diego. The music spanned the famous (Chromeo, Empire Of The Sun, Flight Facilities) to the obscure and everywhere in between.
With the lineup and the venue, we entered CRSSD with the expectation of a classic hang-out-on-the-lawn-and-
CRSSD took place in San Diego’s Waterfront park- a beautiful grassy area with palm trees, fountains, and a view of the bay. Props to the organizers for nailing down a central location with parking options and plenty of space for Uber dropoff/pickup.
The festival was set up with one main stage with tower speakers and 3 LED screens, while the other two were more intimate. There was no question that the main stage was the place to be- it was at least three times the size of the smaller stages and had a full light setup with a smoke machine. The headliners played here, drawing the biggest crowds of the weekend. The large, shallow fountains of the park ran alongside the edges of the viewing area, making for a great way to cool off while still listening to the music.
Although smaller in size, we were particularly taken with The Palms stage, which faced metallic canopies adorned with Asiatic parasols. All parts of the stage were covered with ivy, making for a unique, courtyard-esque feel. The other stage, City Steps, was a smaller version of the main stage, and it looked out onto a large grassy area in more classic festival style.
Apart from the stages, festival-goers could soak their feet and dance in the shallow fountains or relax on bean bags in the grassy field between two stages. There were plenty of places to sit and relax with a drink, and the stages were well-spaced relative to the food (and importantly, did not clog traffic).
San Diego was in midst of a heat wave when CRSSD was happening, which was obviously no fault of the organizers but made the daytime an ordeal with very limited shade. By the time night rolled around, some festivalgoers were sunburned and frazzled from the heat (but the party went on!). After sunset it was much more enjoyable and felt like a warm summer’s night.
Verdict: A beautiful location with creative stage design and smart placement of food and drink. Next year they could add more shade and mist options.
Speaking of food, CRSSD had some of the best food we have seen offered at festivals. Many food tents were run by local nightlife destinations and they brought their best dishes to the table. Of note were oysters on the half shell and yellowtail sushi rolls offered by San Diego hotspot Bang Bang. El Camino, another local joint, offered shrimp ceviche and a spicy mezcal margarita. They had both a large craft beer area and standard large domestic drafts. There was also an asian fusion food truck, lobster rolls, and of course the standard offerings- chicken tenders and pizza. Hats off to the quality and variety of the food. The price was standard for festivals: $8-$12 dollar drinks and $10 dollar food items.
At the very middle of the park was a marble statue, and CRSSD surrounded this monument with a large circle bar. It was a nice touch and turned the surrounding grass into more of an upscale outdoor lounge. They set up a similar bar close to the main entrance. All of this meant there was a true bar feel at the festival.
In terms of lines, food and drink tents were dispersed nicely along the sides of the venue at reasonable distances. Lines got long per festival norms, but the organizers had budgeted enough room so at least the lines didn’t impede festival traffic.
Verdict: Great quality food with a ton of variety. Access to drinks was easy and made better by attractive places to enjoy them.
The music was laid-back and upbeat with a wide range mostly including experimental house, future house, and even some disco. Headliners included Chromeo, Empire of the Sun, and Flight Facilities. EDM-loving ravers were SOL as this was a more relaxed, lower key festival experience.
The scope of talent within the festival kept the sounds fresh and interesting. A previously unknown standout for us was Giraffage, who got the Saturday night crowd moving by mixing in a slowed down “Party in the USA” over another house instrumental, and playing his remix of Porter Robinson’s “Lionhearted.”
Verdict: The electric sounds ranged from chill to dancey, and were varied and fun.
Anyone who had to use the restroom (read: everyone) will tell you that was a real negative of the festival. Organizers did their best by lining up the porta-potties single file along the back wall. It was a good move because it avoided bottlenecking, but there simply wasn’t enough of them as lines for each porta-potty were usually 4+ people deep. Some guys even resorted to peeing off in a corner because the lines were so long (or because they could).
Same was true of the drinking water. On a 90+ degree day, water should be easily accessible, and that was not the case. The festival made the right move by selling water bottles and allowing patrons to bring their own empty Nalgenes to refill, but the water refill stations were difficult to access in narrow passageways. On top of that, they actually ran out of water on Saturday for three hours. To make things worse, the water jugs were placed en route to the porta-potties, so they created an instant traffic jam.
Verdict: Keeping festivalgoers in good health should be top priority and hopefully CRSSD will find a better way to deliver these necessities next year.
CRSSD made it clear upfront that this event was not a rave, it was a festival. We assume they were attempting to attract more of a classy Coachella crowd and they achieved that. Ticket prices reflected the upscale nature of the event and security staff was prepared and organized. Typical rave attire and activities were strongly discouraged. There were still a few people who managed to bring their LED gloves and poi, but mostly it was a boho-hippie crowd. This was consistent with the music being decidedly not EDM. The crowd was laid-back, a little buzzed, but under control. The pervasive style was sunny floral San Diego summer with bro tanks, sunglasses, and sandals.
Verdict: Picture San Diego beach culture mixed with a splash of Coachella fashion.
- So many Michael Jordan jerseys.
- So much Holy Ship gear. We get it, you went to Holy Ship.
- Metallic temporary tattoos everywhere!
- Security was the most lax I’ve ever seen at a festival. I saw people inside actually tossing a frisbee they had snuck in.
- Spontaneous partner yoga-ing in the crowd? So California.
CRSSD was a great festival experience. It was in a beautiful location, the music was spot on, and it was (for the most part) organized intelligently. Both big-name and lesser known artists made for a fresh listening experience, and the food was a step up from the standard fare. The oppressing heat wasn’t ideal, but didn’t slow down the party.
If there weren’t enough reasons to live in San Diego already, CRSSD is one more. Props to CRSSD for recognizing the interest in San Diego and providing a great experience on their first try.
Written by FestPop Staff Writers
Thomas Li and Alexa Kirkland
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