Longevity and size are often valued in the world of music festivals, but there’s a lot to be said for being new and intimate. Witness San Diego’s CRSSD Festival, which holds its third edition this weekend at Waterfront Park with at least 40 acts that cover an array of electronic music styles.
True, this homegrown event was not nominated for Festival of the Year honors at next month’s inaugural edition of the Electronic Music Awards & Foundation Show, which airs April 23 on Fox TV as a one-hour special. But, well, so what?
Having only debuted last March, with an encore edition in October, the 21-and-up CRSSD may simply be too new - and too small - to compete against the five established festivals that are nominated.
They include: Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival, which debuted in Sin City in 2011 after a three-year run in Los Angeles; Barcelona’s Sonar, which this year celebrates its 22nd anniversary and has now been held in nearly two-dozen other cities around the world; England’s Creamfields, which debuted in 1998 and has expanded to more than a dozen other countries; Ultra, which debuted in Miami in 1999 and has since been held in 10 countries; and Mexico’s BPM, which is now in its ninth year.
But what makes CRSSD special, in part, is that it doesn’t attract hundreds of thousands of attendees, like Electric Daisy and Sonar, nor does it have the space or desire to accommodate such massive crowds.
Capacity for the festival at the panoramic Waterfront Park is capped at 15,000 per day. The resulting comfort and intimacy - by outdoor electronic music festival standards - help CRSSD stand out.
So does its laid-back vibe and musical emphasis, which wisely eschews pounding, bass-heavy electronic dance music (EDM) acts, in favor of comparatively more mellow performers, who create atmospheric music that doesn’t overpower listeners. Tropical-house, neo-disco, chill-wave, neo-synth-pop and deep-house are some of the styles that will be showcased at the festival.
When: noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, downtown
Tickets: $80 Sunday; $180 two-day pass; single-day Saturday tickets are sold out. Must be 21 or older to attend.
The lineup of 40 acts includes Washington-bred duo Odesza, whose live shows usually feature live keyboards and drums, as well as a trumpeter, trombonist and guitarist; Tunisian-German DJ Loco Dice; and Australian electro-soul producer and singer Chet Faker (real name: Nicholas James Murphy), whose repertoire includes his own “Gold” (recently featured in an Apple laptop commercial) and a retooled version of Van Morrison’s 1970 classic “Moondance.”
With San Diego Bay and the Star of India to one side, the downtown skyline to the other, and the historic San Diego County Administration Building in the center of the festival site, CRSSD benefits from a breathtaking setting for a music event of any kind.
The festival’s first two editions were co-produced by San Diego’s FNGRS CRSSD and Los Angeles-based Goldenvoice. The latter company, which owns a controlling interest in San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center, produces the annual Coachella and Stagecoach festivals in Indio. This year’s edition is produced entirely by FNGRS CRSSD.
CRSSD still has some kinks to work out - specifically, sound-bleed between stages, a need to create easier entry access, and a lack of ample signage and shaded areas for attendees.
But judging by how well its first two editions did in an eight-month span in 2015, CRSSD may soon by vying for Festival of the Year honors at the Electronic Music Awards. It should be a worthy contender.