Only a year since its inception, CRSSD has grown into the shining beacon of San Diego's underground house and techno scene. At the idyllic Waterfront Park in the city's beachside downtown district this weekend, everyone from Loco Dice to Chet Faker, Jamie Jones to Eric Prydz (via his Cirez D alter ego), performed to a sold-out crowd of the Southland's most beautiful and clued-in dance-music fanatics.
As it is still a relatively new festival brand, CRSSD is by no means perfect. Here's the best and worst from what went down in San Diego:
Best: The Underground Shines Bright
There is no other festival quite like CRSSD in the United States. It takes the most beautiful people from Coachella’s Sahara Tent and dials down the EDM vibes to a notch above deep. It's a homegrown, boutique San Diego institution, despite having the support of festival behemoth Goldenvoice, a connection that allows them to bring big lineups to a more intimate setting. But where CRSSD really shines is the lineup, which is an uncompromising selection of house and techno acts that does not pander to the mainstream palate. When Odesza is the most commercial act on a sold-out, all-dance festival lineup, it’s good news for the electronic scene.
Best: The Palms Stage Leafy Upgrades
At a festival that relies on location, lineup and vibes more than production value, the Palms Stage’s upgrade into a verdant jungle of a scene was a welcome addition. A lush canopy of tropical plants enveloped some of the most notable acts in underground dance music — Claude VonStroke, Tiga, Jamie Jones — while adding some much-needed dimension and character to CRSSD's developing identity.
Worst: The Entry Line From Hell
I would rather have my spleen pulled out through my eyeballs than wait in CRSSD’s admission line again. With only one point of entry, every CRSSDer is corraled down a single street, where they are packed in 20 wide and 1,000 deep, shoulder to shoulder, genitals to tuchus, and smushed into a heaving mass of discontent. There are bummers, and then there are vibe killers, and then there is CRSSD’s entry process, which is a soul-crushing misery machine of epic proportions.
Best: Clement Weather
The rumblings grew steadily all week. It was (allegedly) going to rain over the weekend, and it was gonna ruin the party for everyone. There’s nowhere to hide at CRSSD — the deluge of rain predicted would have been the death knell to the festival’s signature, summery vibes, and a challenge the fest has yet to be tested by in its short existence.
The thunder, lightning and rain did come, but were limited to a short spell early on Sunday morning, after which normal service was resumed and blue skies prevailed, allowing kids to frolic in the fountains in all their Instagrammable glory.
Worst: Tale of Us Canceled
After a 2015 that saw them be crowned Mixmag’s DJs of the Year, helm the most celebrated BBC Essential Mix in recent memory, and wow massive crowds worldwide with their particular brand of deep, melodic, space-station techno, Italian duo Tale of Us (Carmine Conti and Matteo Millieri) capped it all off by unceremoniously canceling their CRSSD headline gig due to one of them being “sick.” Let’s forget for a second that “sick” in DJ language usually means “too hungover to perform” — isn’t one of the benefits of being a duo that if one of you is somehow incapacitated, the other can press play for the both of you?
Best: Maceo Plex Saves the Day
If you could put together a one-person wishlist for a last-minute Tale of Us replacement, it would contain only two words: Maceo and Plex. The American expat, now based in Barcelona, quietly slotted into the City Steps stage’s closing slot on Sunday, and very loudly brought the techno ruckus in a way that Tale of Us never could. Maceo Plex’s style is hard, driving and uncompromising, and he sent the crowd home satiated. If that set didn’t give you what you needed, perhaps it’s time to try a new genre.