SILVERADO, CA - The first ever Dirtybird Campout took place last weekend in Orange County, a 3-day music festival laden with a "summer camp" theme, organized by house and tech music label Dirtybird Records. For a first year festival, Dirtybird Campout was a huge success.
With a clear vision and theme, Dirtybird successfully beat the first- year issues that many festival promoters face. Even with a bit of rain on Sunday, the entire weekend seemed to run smoothly. Lightning in a Bottle Festival organizers The Do Lab joined forces on the production side of things, and it was probably the best decision possible.
There were several unique reasons why DBC 2015 stood out from the rest of these events during a jam-packed festival season. Here's five reasons why Dirtybird Campout was the best new festival of the year:
While most festivals either don't have a theme, or it doesn't immediately catch on with its patrons, DBC's summer camp theme was both original and widely embraced - even in October.
However, they didn't slack off and settle for some s'mores and a few games of capture the flag. There were activities all morning and evening: Talent Show. Stand up Comedy. Tie-dye. Water Balloon Toss. Color Wars. Kickball. Late Night Bingo. Archery. Arts n Crafts. Yoga. Scavenger Hunt Hiking. Face-Painting. And even more.
Looking around on Saturday afternoon, I saw LIFE everywhere, people having good ol' fashioned rowdy fun in the grass with each other - juxtaposed with the usual festivals that just drop you off like a melancholy uncle being forced to babysit you in the summertime ("Here's a stage and some grass, have fun").
Not only did the activities get you the most out of your festival ticket, but it also provided the intimate summer camp experience - a way to meet new people and recognize familiar faces throughout the weekend.
Although the main music stopped at 2AM, the afterhours until 7AM every day really made the festival what it was. It allowed you to party when you wanted to party, and rest when you wanted to rest, without missing out.
Some of the best sets of the weekend were during afterhours. Justin and Christian Martin played a sunrise drum and bass set on Sunday morning, as magical raindrops started falling from the teal sky, and it was certainly my favorite moment of the weekend. We also saw Barclay Crenshaw during the later hours, Claude VonStroke's real name and hip- hop project.
You didn't want to treat the after hours like an "optional" part of the weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised at their high volume and bass level they maintained through the morning.
What a beaut! Oak Canyon Park with its bright green grass, wide open spaces, sparkling water and luscious trees was the ideal stomping grounds for a summer camp festival. Instead of partying, I found myself taking nature walks and landscape photos, haha, whoops.
Besides the visually appealing aspects of the venue, the convenience of the location was such a pro in two ways. For one, the main area, camping grounds, and stages were all close together which made walking around a breeze. If you want to head back to camp, it is only a few minutes of walking, which creates a care-free culture (instead of worrying if you'll get lost from your friends or tire yourself out). Secondly, the actual location of Oak Canyon Park was right between Los Angeles and San Diego, which was convenient for those who had work Friday and / or Monday in Southern California.
When you head to summer camp as a kid, you might not know anyone at all, but by the end you are all friends. The intimate 4,000 person festival at DBC successfully emulated that experience. With just one stage and a somewhat small crowd, everyone was beating to the same drum at the same time. This consistent vibe is seen at a lot of house music festivals, as opposed to attending a large event with multiple stages and styles of music. It isn't a bad thing at all to have variety, but not everyone will be on the same page.
Even greater a factor in bonding everyone were the activities as mentioned before. You might dance next to someone all night, but you don't really know them as well as if they were, say, your water balloon toss partner in broad daylight. Yaddadamean?
Lastly, with a few Coachella-kid exceptions, the crowd was overall a great one. In my opinion, the Dirtybird crowd is not yet over-hyped or over-populated. I still felt a cult vibe of hardcore house heads who are there for the dirty beats, and who know which DJs are playing. Believe it or not, that awareness is rare at a festival nowadays, but Dirtybird has created a close-knit culture that appreciates (and goes wild for) the music, and I hope that stays true next year as well.
Going off my last point, the culture of a festival ultimately stems the most from the music. From the music comes the community, and together they blossom into a festival flower. But the sound plants the foundation for the culture.
The main reason DBC flourished was the one cohesive Dirtybird vibe. I'll try to explain what I mean.
At DBC, you knew what to expect music-wise, and the DJs brought the heat. They created one sound, the dirty gangster house rhythm, and permeated that throughout 3 days. On the other hand, when a festival is all over the place, it's difficult to satisfy everyone.
Let me compare DBC to a similar festival, Woogie Weekend. Both were run by The Do Lab, both were at Oak Canyon Park, both featured house and tech music for three days, and it even rained at both. At Woogie, the vibe was all over the place - from cheerful tropical house to the darkest techno, to minimal beats and even disco vibes. It sounds fun to hear a little bit of everything, but surprisingly, it jumbled up the atmosphere. There were two stages, and you found yourself going back and forth in an unsure mindset of what you wanted. Or, you'd get super tropical at 2PM and then a DJ comes in and busts your vibe with tech at 4PM. I'm certainly a lover of all genres, but I didn't realize the disconnect until I experienced the fluidity of Dirtybird.
Dirtybird Campout featured one steady flow of sick beats, one cohesive summer camp theme through night and day, and one carefree vibe. Out of all the people I spoke with at the event, everyone who attended was lucky to share the same memorable experience. For these reasons, Dirtybird Campout was without a doubt the best new festival of 2015.