CRSSD Festival has nearly 50 acts - here are our top 5 picks

Festival attendees enjoy CRSSD Festival at Waterfront Park in September 2019.
(Felicia Garcia)

CRSSD Festival returns to Waterfront Park for the first time since the pandemic


It’s been a year-and-a-half (18 months and 17 days to be exact) since CRSSD Festival last opened its gates. But that all changes this weekend.

Local promoters FNGRS CRSSD bring their namesake experience back to Waterfront Park on Saturday and Sunday for two full days of music.

Like so many other live events, the popular bi-annual electronic music festival went dark during the pandemic. However, since California’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, CRSSD has slowly but surely built back its brand — from small one-off events at Belmont Park’s Beach House and Quartyard in the East Village, to August’s full blown Day.MVS.XL.

Since its debut in 2015, CRSSD has consistently assembled an impressive and eclectic lineup that spans both generations and genre. This weekend’s iteration is no different. With artists like Zhu, Camelphat, Aluna, Jamie Jones, Carl Craig, Seth Troxler, ANNA, Hot Since 82, and Boys Noize set to perform, it almost seems as if CRSSD never left.

Here are five must-see acts at CRSSD:

Kaytranada: With a Polaris Music Prize and multiple Juno Awards already under his belt, Canadian producer and DJ Kevin Celestin recently picked up a pair of Grammys for his sophomore full-length release, “Bubba,” including one for Best Dance/Electronic Album. The Haitian-born, Montreal-bred artist has also produced tracks for the likes of Anderson .Paak, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Chet Faker and Talib Kweli.

Sasha & John Digweed: The peanut butter and jelly of electronic music, this British DJ duo has spent more time behind the decks (both individually and together) than the average age of most CRSSD attendees. Despite independent success, as well as multiple breaks/reunions, the pair never officially called it quits and are joining forces once again. Much like fellow CRSSD performer Carl Craig, the duo is an undeniable fixture in the culture of house and techno.

Jon Hopkins: The Mercury and Grammy-nominated composer/producer started as a classically trained pianist. His wildly varied career includes producing and touring with Coldplay, playing in Imogen Heap’s band, composing soundtracks to films by Gareth Edwards and Peter Jackson, and remixing Four Tet, Nosaj Thing and David Lynch. His sixth studio album, “Music for Psychedelic Therapy,” will be released in November.

Flying Lotus: The Los Angeles based producer/DJ (aka Steven Ellison) is the grandnephew of Alice Coltrane and founder of the Brainfeeder record label. He is a regular musical contributor to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and has produced the likes of Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown. Ellison won a Grammy for his production of Thundercat’s 2020 album, “It Is What It Is,” and released his seventh studio album, “Yasuke,” a soundtrack for the Netflix series of the same name that he also executive produced.

Kelly Lee Owens: The Welsh DJ, producer and singer began her career experimenting with the healing powers of music at a cancer hospital where she worked as an auxiliary nurse. She’s gone on to work with the likes of Björk, St. Vincent, Daniel Avery, Jenny Hval and fellow CRSSD performer Jon Hopkins. Owens has released two full-length albums of her own, including last year’s “Inner Song,” which features a cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” and an appearance from The Velvet Underground’s John Cale.

CRSSD follows state COVID-19 guidelines, encouraging masks and social distancing.

Kelly Lee Owens performs at CRSSD on Sunday. Here’s what she had to say about:

Kelly Lee Owens kicking one leg in the air
Kelly Lee Owens is a musician and producer who will perform at CRSSD Festival 2021.
(Sarah Stedeford)

The importance of music and art during the pandemic: “Take away all the music and films and art. Take away the books on your bookshelf. Take all of that away and ask how you would have coped? I know for me, it wouldn’t have been very well. So I see it as a silver lining that people really seem to value something like music again. It’s helping us to understand how it carries us through life. And that’s a beautiful thing.”

Returning to live performances: “It feels so special to be back. Obviously, it’s been incredibly difficult for so many people. But we’ve also had the time and space to think about things like, ‘what do I really want,’ ‘who am I,’ and ‘what genuinely makes me happy?’ It’s allowed us to re-evaluate our work and lives. It’s given people a time for reflection. And now, I just think everyone is so happy to be together again, listening to music and dancing. It’s been magical. It’s a two way street between artists and the people who listen to the music. We need each other. There’s no separation. And I’m so very grateful to be part of it again.”

CRSSD Festival 2021

When: Gates open at noon Saturday and Sunday
Where: Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Coast Highway, downtown
Lineup: Zhu, Camelphat, Aluna, Jamie Jones, Carl Craig, Seth Troxler, ANNA, Hot Since 82, and Boys Noize
Tickets: $125 to $135