CRSSD Kicks Off 2023 Festival Season With Spectacular Color and Energy
The 2023 festival season is officially underway after a big first weekend of March and, as someone who has heard only great things about both CRSSD Festival and San Diego in general, I’m so happy that I got to experience my first ever CRSSD! The weather was pretty perfect – sunshine peaked through clouds and we were treated to a beautiful sunset on Sunday night – and the vibes of the crowd were high flying. The sound production really helped to elevate the experience as there was no sound bleed between stages, despite the smaller festival footprint, and between the visual production and attendee fashion, it certainly made for a colorful weekend.
The diverse lineup was split between three different stages, each having its own genre focus. Upon entry, festivalgoers were greeted by The Palms, which was an elaborately decorates stage featuring greenery around the DJ booth and colorful parasols hanging from the overhead canopy. Throughout the weekend, this stage acted as the catch-all stage for dance music. It featured artists like Kavinsky who is known for his unique style of French house, Purple Disco Machine who brings funky disco vibes, and AMÉMÉ who toes the indie-dance/deep house lines. Several duos took to the stage over the weekend – Bedouin with their knack for blending their Middle Eastern heritage into their house tunes and Tom & Collins with their more pop-friendly remixes – and while a Seth Troxler and Eats Everything B2B was already on the schedule, Skream ended up filling in for Eats Everything and fans were also treated to a surprise extended B2B by Kettama and Mall Grab. This stage definitely got the party going by providing welcoming and warming dancefloor energy right off the bat.
The next stage in the rectangular footprint was City Steps, which hosted everything that you could dream of from the world of techno and if you wanted to find the shufflers of the festival, this is where you would find them. This stage was filled with some of the best ladies in the game: Sama’ Abdulhadi, Bloody Mary, Paurro, Anfisa Letyago, Brina Knauss, Kittin (of Kittin & The Hacker), Maya Jane Coles, and Deborah De Luca all graced the stage with their individual subgenres to create high levels of tension on the dancefloor. While I’m still dipping my toes into the techno space, my favorite act of the weekend happened to be on this stage – Space 92 x Popof Present Turbulences. What I really enjoyed about that set was that they mixed in hip-hop, which brought a new layer to the festival. The backdrop of this stage hoisted the CRSSD logo, which was well fit between the vertical lights that adorned the rest of the stage and flashed along with the beats. When nighttime fell, you could turn to the left and see the logo projected onto the backside of the county building, which easily made for a larger backdrop if you wanted to take photos (for the gram, because how else would people know you were there?).
Some of the biggest names of the weekend could be found on the third and final stage of the festival, Ocean View, which also featured artists with live elements in their acts. SWIMM, Biig Piig, Yelle, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and Luna Li all included singing in their sets. Attendees at this stage experienced two extremely magical sunset sets: a bass-blaring and hypnotizing one by Giolì & Assia on Saturday and a shimmery and nostalgic one by Lane 8 on Sunday, which was also backed by gorgeous sunset colors. Becky Hill danced around on stage as she belted out some of her most popular tracks and Channel Tres used his silky smooth voice to set the mood while also performing with his backup dancers. And of course, ODESZA had a beautiful performance that ended the weekend at Ocean View on a high note. While ODESZA may be the name that people who aren’t in the house and techno scene recognize, I was pleasantly surprised by how many festivalgoers were also at the other two stages, which were being closed out by Purple Disco Machine and Deborah De Luca. It goes to show how diverse the lineup was, which is certainly a nod to the careful thought put into its curation by the festival owners.
CRSSD definitely lived up to its well-renowned reputation – I ran into a larger-than-expected handful of people I met at other festivals in 2022 – and I know I will look back on this experience with only fond memories, as I’m sure many others will too.