A review of San Diego's seaside house and techno festival.

Over the past few years, San Diego has quietly emerged as one of the hotspots for electronic music - more specifically, house and techno. A big city in its own right (with a population of 1.5 million), America's Finest City tones down its attitude, relishing instead in its chill, beach town vibes. That energy is what helps fuel the success of CRSSD Festival, a 21-and-older biannual gathering of music aficionados that has grown into the premier boutique house and techno music festival.

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Situated alongside San Diego Bay with historic ships flanking its eastern edge and the towering skyline to its west, CRSSD's venue location, Waterfront Park, is the envy of festival curators. The ornate San Diego County Administration Building is used as a centerpiece, offering a backdrop for not only one of its three stages but also as a canvas to illuminate the imposing structure with its double snake logo.

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

The park itself is used to its full potential, utilizing not only its lush green grass areas but also its interactive water fountains, which are popular during the festival's fall edition. Rectangular in shape, the 12-acre venue's design is simple: one entrance and exit point on the southern end which opens up to a grassy lawn and where revelers encounter the first of three stages.

Photo: Miranda McDonald, CRSSD

Photo: Miranda McDonald, CRSSD

The Palms stage manifests itself into a jungle oasis. The tangled wooded foliage consumes the DJ booth, with long palm fronds framing the stage. On Saturday, the boscage was home to Doc Martin, Erol Alkan, David August, Catz 'N Dogs, Justin Martin, and Armand Van Helden. 

Lane 8 took to The Palms stage on Sunday to a massive crowd and was immediately followed by Sonny Fodera. Luttrell, Steve Darko, Digitalism, and Boys Don't Disco also called The Palms home.

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

City Steps is the next stage you encounter as you meander your way up the grounds. The structure takes its name from the extravagant County Building under which it sits, and it takes a more minimalistic, brooding approach to its design. The Martinez Brothers, Pan-Pot, Stephan Bodzin, Mason Maynard, and Waze & Odyssey were some of the most talked-about acts that played at City Steps.

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Photo: Felicia Garcia, CRSSD

Ocean View is the last stage you come across - and it is impressive. The expansive stage offers unobstructed views of the San Diego skyline to the right, and naval ships of the nearby San Diego Maritime Museum to the left. The grassy lawn allows partygoers to sit, relax and enjoy the artists playing before them, or dance in a comfortable, plush paradise.

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

Performers who took over the Ocean View stage over the weekend included Petit Biscuit, Ladytron, Maribou State, Phantogram, Whethan, Classixx, Jungle and Charlotte Lawrence, among others. However, it was evident that the majority of attendees came for one act, and one act only: Odesza. Their closing Sunday set saw a throng of guests heading to the northern end of the park to catch the indie-electronic group.

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

Overall, the 2019 spring edition of CRSSD Festival offered guests a chance to catch an eclectic mix of electronic artists in a seaside setting at one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Waterfront Park presents itself as a paradise for the adult audiences of techno and house music. 

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

Photo: Juliana Bernstein, CRSSD

The 21-and-over event is designed for a mature crowd, allowing the festival to put its emphasis on music instead of glorified stages and over-the-top productions such as lights, lasers, fog machines, and the like. The consummation is a boutique festival, with a grown-up identity, that keeps people coming back every spring and fall.

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