WTF happened at What The Festival?!
I've been pondering this question for some time since my return to real life after four days in musical and cultural paradise. On a private ranch in Dufur, Oregon, nestled between the Deschutes River and Mt. Hood (one of the defining features of the backdrop of the Effin' stage), a small group of about 2,000 house lovers, bassheads, and hippies alike join together under the stars to celebrate damn good music and freedom of expression.
Not only did I witness countless memorable sets, but I also met some incredibly loving and fascinating people. The only word I can think of to attribute to this feeling is shambhalove
. On the second night of the festival, I met a man at the LOL (Late Option Lounge) stage who asked me if i had a magic marker, and begged me to draw a grid on half of his face. I did have a Sharpie, and I was reluctant, but I am so glad I let him, because the look of pure joy on his face when his plan was executed was totally worth it. I saw him again the next day, this time with blue facepaint and sparkles replacing the grid, and he gave me the biggest bear hug. This is just a small sampling of the wonderful people who roam WTF.
The camping area was located just far enough from the stages so that I could sleep soundly, but close enough that I could wander between my campsite and the stages whenever I felt like it, which was perfect for quick adjustments into warmer, nighttime clothes (I recommend a onesie) in order to comfortably groove the night away in the cold and wind that struck the plateau once the sun went down.
But the music is really the shining star of What The Festival. I discovered artists I had never heard before, such as Kaytranada
and Dimond Saints
that are now staples in my Soundcloud feed. My only complaint about the festival is that most stages, with the exception of the LOL stage and the Silent Frisco, stopped playing music at 2am. However, as a result, I got to spend quality time with my friends winding down to live bands at the Late Option Lounge, and grooving together in silence at the Silent Frisco.
Each night, two DJs battled it out at this centrally located stage under the giant disco ball, while festival-goers put on headphones with an option to switch stations between the two DJs, one of which was playing house music that I enjoyed very much. It was fun to look around at the lights on the headphones displaying which station someone was listening to and get down together. It was also fun to walk past the Silent Frisco and watch people lose their shit in total silence. As for the other stages, here is a list of my favorite sets from the weekend, broken down by day.
We arrived at the festival prepared to take it easy and start our night with Opiou
at 6pm. But some friends convinced us to go see An-ten-nae
at 4pm, and I am so glad we did! The father of acid crunk, the maker of deep "sexxy yumm numms," I present to you one of my favorite new discoveries of the weekend.
Following An-ten-nae at the Splash Stage were Trippy Turtle
, who were also great, but the next big surprise of the night for me was Kaytranada
. Following a chill and pleasant Giraffage
set, we were immediately greeted with the sounds of Kaytranada's sexy, groovy, hip-hop infused disco. Or should I say disco infused hip-hop? This Montreal native has molded his own genre, known simply as "KAYTRANADA."
I ended my whirlwind first day with laying in the grass with my best friend under more stars than I think I've ever seen in my life, listening to Washed Out
play a live set right next to us at the WTF stage. It was perfect.
has been at the top of my wish-to-see list for months. If you haven't heard (and fallen deeply in love with) Kygo, you've probably been living under a rock for the last year. His peaceful tropical house sound is like nothing I have ever heard before, and hearing him live in the afternoon sun on the grass next to the pool with my best friends was even more beautiful than I could have imagined.
My crew and I were planning on heading back to camp after Kygo to prepare for the night, but we couldn't leave Viceroy
, who immediately followed Kygo at the Splash stage. I hadn't heard of Viceroy before WTF, and now his signature summertime sound, self-described as "jams, not bangers" has become a new summer favorite for me.
Saturday evening was a mixture of beauty and crunk. We got down to some trap with What So Not
and then we chilled it out a little bit with the Emancipator Ensemble
It was the final day of the festival, so of course we went all out. It all began with an epic (and I don't use that word lightly) Dirtybird
pool party at the Splash Stage, which was worth the price of the festival ticket in itself, imho.
was adorable and badass, and could be identified by her ponytail bopping around behind the decks with sick beats to match. The highlight of the entire festival, for me, was when Mr. Claude Vonstroke
himself came down into the crowd to dance with us during Christian Martin
's set. He wore an Oregon ducks beanie and sunglasses, and made small talk with the crowd, at one point turning to me and joking "Who is this guy? Have you ever heard this song?"
's set was easily the dirtiest, deepest house set I witnessed all weekend, and it lasted for an incredible 2+ hours. As the afternoon of the third day drew to a close, many people started to tire, but nobody could resist the beats laid down by Claude, and the pool stayed full and groovin' the entire time.
After the pool party, I got real weird with Ott.
and the small crowd around him, who didn't give a single fuck what anybody thought. There were people rolling on the ground, practicing yoga in the corner, and then there was me, doing what I can only describe as "the noodle dance." It was a trip.
The set I was most looking forward to all weekend, MK
, did not disappoint, and I succeeded in convincing my friends that they would love his set.
After MK, I was very pleasantly surprised with another new discovery: Dimond Saints
, a new side project from An-ten-nae. Yes, you read that right, it's Dimond Saints, not Diamond. The name is derived from their hometown of the Dimond District in Oakland, California. These guys take popular songs from the likes of Lorde
and OneRepublic, and infuse them with a sexy, future bass sound. I'm a huge Glitch Mob
fan, and I missed most of their set, because I couldn't tear myself away from Dimond Saints.
So, to recap, What The Festival is the Northwest's best kept musical secret, filled with all of the best kinds of people, and I better see you there next year!