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Big Gigantic

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What The Festival – Four Days of Beats, Babes, and Guys Dressed like your Grandma

Word finally got out about What The Festival this year and it did so (primarily) by the most inevitable way possible, by word of mouth. People have praised the quality of the organization, flow, and overall love that goes into the event for years and with its fourth attempt, people responded.

After three years of hovering between the three and four thousand mark, this year’s attendance rose by almost 2000 souls. By Saturday, with a grand total of 5,000 ticket holders, they were all sold out. There were new stages, tons of more art, great vendors and beautiful people, and once again, a lineup that can satisfy even the pickiest electronic music lovers (except for this hip harper who thinks Big Gigantic wasn’t a worthy headliner. Spoiler alert; They were.)

The festival started Thursday night, technically, but the majority of festival goers arrived on Friday. After a quick walk through the grounds after setting up my camp, I noticed they’ve rearranged and increased the amount of stages from the last time I attended in 2013. WTF responded to last year’s lack of late night acts by building several new stages to pump music until the sun peaked out. Most notably, the dragon stage was the most prolific new piece as it lay at the bottom of the illuminated forest and resembled a large, red, mystical dragon.

Friday night got started in local, funky fashion with Oregon’s reggae duo, Indubious (link) playing the Equinox stage. This was shortly followed by Portland’s bass loving producer, EPROM on the Effin’ Stage. Meanwhile, Keys and Krates blasted off on the main stage to set the mood for Griz, the funk rock headliner with a fresh new album to showcase. This groove continued back on the Equinox stage with Canadian DJs, The Funk Hunters featuring Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5) who delivered one of the most piognant sets of the weekend. The night was eventually closed out by fellow Canadian producer (and funk enthusiast) Stickybuds.

Saturday got off to a slow start for most people thanks to the extra doses of funk. Portland’s Vinnie the Squid got a pool party started around midday that was topped off by British producer, Ambassadeurs in the afternoon. As the night began to fall Sweater Beats got things bumping on the Effin’ Stage while Machinedrum performed their latest album Vapor City live. Many eyes were then set on Saturday night’s headliner, Big Gigantic who mashed up hip hop, blues, and funk while others made it tto Tokimonsta to see her drive an incredible set on the Effin Satge. The late night action took place in depths of the forest as Portland’s Solovox gave a dynamic performance. Deeper in the forest, the party rolled into sunrise with Fort Knox Five and Rob Garza hitting the decks on the Dragon Stage.

Sunday is when people really had to prove their dedication. It was the first time anyone has felt tired since arriving, but there was a whole day of music left to see. Canadian duo, Skiitour (complete with snowsuits) started promptly at noon at the pool. Later in the afternoon Thomas Jack was joined by a captivating fiddler and turned the splash pool into a hootenanny. The main stage was started by Portland jam and hip hop band, Device Grips in the early evening. Just as night fell, the masked drummer, Slow Magic went on the main stage his warm beats got everyone ready for ODESZA’s devine performance which included a horn section and perfectly concluded the weekend.

As you can see, there was a ton of music to be heard featuring some of the most distinguished producers and DJs from all over the world, but the things What The Festival does right goes well beyond the music. The organization is on point from the moment you arrive on the ranch, and the energy created from the design of this crew makes a fun-loving environment where everyone is your friend and dance partner. At no point are you left wondering what to do next, because everywhere you turn there’s something new to see, do, or someone to meet. And frankly, festivals like this are the only ones I’m interested in attending.

Here are three local sets that got our undivided attention last weekend:

Indubious Gets the First Night on the Right Foot

Solovox Gets Funky For The Stumbling Hippies – LOL stage at What The Festival

Device Grips Make a Crowd that Felt Good Feel Great

-Photo and story by Colin Hudson

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Solovox Gets Funky For The Stumbling Hippies – LOL stage at What The Festival

After an enigmatic set by Big Gigantic came to a close, the crowd stumbled and scattered like a group of flying around a lightbulb that just went dud. It was now time to skip into the WTF’s signature Illuminated Forest but not before a quick omen with people holding a sign that says “We Need New Friends.”

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm”

The path leading you into the forest and down to the LOL stage is steep, and full of bright distractions so we had to lean far back almost on our heels as we slowly entered. As we descended lower, the faint sounds of synthesizers and electronic beats found its way through the trees and into my ears. With each step, it got louder, and the fuzzy effects started to go straight to my brain. Eventually, I could distinguish the electric tones and piano solos. They were coming from Portland’s producer and keyboard wizard, Solovox.

He began carefully blending in layers of synths over his mixes that wrapped in hip hop, break beats, and rock and roll into a dance floor explosion. Once everything was layered he would go off on a keyboard tangent, crushing his way through his own music. Suddenly, the beat came to a rest and he unleashed a furious bluesy piano intro that fed into the Beastie Boys belting out the opening verse to “Pass the Mic.” The voices of Mike D and MCA were suddenly being overpowered by the beginning of another solo that turned the course of the set with a little prog rock.

The LOL stage is set up almost at the bottom of the forest. It’s where yoga and other classes took place and there were several platforms spotted in different locations leading down to the stage. This set up created a choose-your-own adventure format. Some plats were full and some you had all to yourself, but Solovox was reaching to all depths and delivering a transcendental performance in the middle of the woods.

A couple of songs and several more volatile keyboard solos, the set came to a close and a crowd that had to stumble its way into the set was left with that same disorientation and forced back to reality until they found their next escape.

-Photos and story by Colin Hudson

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What the Festival is Set to Deliver an Epic Fourth Year

The days are getting longer and the weather dude is telling me the temperature isn’t going to dip below 80 degrees anytime soon, so this could only mean one thing, What The Festival 2015 is right around the corner! This year marks the festival’s fourth go-around, and the folks that put this shindig together are gearing up Oregon’s Wolf Run Ranch for another successful weekend.

This festival has a little bit of everything. It takes place on a gorgeous campground about 25 miles east of Mt. Hood. There’s enough room to walk through a (glow in the dark!) forest, lounge on plush sofas, benches, and any other designated or non-designated chill zones, dance in a splash pool with a stage that pumps out beats all day long. You can attend workshops, go to yoga and all that jazz. And to top it off, you get to witness a slew of the top producers and DJs in the game.

Names like Big Gigantic, Griz, and Seattle’s ODESZA top the list of a funkafied lineup, and there is also a number of local acts and up-and-coming artists that fill out the three day extravaganza. This event is held in Oregon for good reason. There is plenty of Portland influence, especially on the music side, here is a list of local flavor:

Indubious – Electronic reggae, or reggae with electronics. Somewhere in the middle of that is the hard hitting duo from Ashland. A live bass player and keys/and synths mix beautifully in front of beats will go off in psychedelic tangents, but always find their way back to the traditional reggae songs they’ve been making for years.

Hustle and Drone – Synth pop straight outta Portland. H&D has seen a large growth of success over the past year. The songs they write have an indie rock influence and always hold a danceable beat.

Ernest Lovers w/ Pete Krebs – Quite a bit of a different pace than the majority of the lineup, but these are local legendary song writers. They will provide a nice break from the chaos and give your brain cells a minute to rejuvenate with some slow and melodic honky tonk.

EPROM – Bass heavy with a little bit of hip hop. EPROM is one of the most notable Portland acts on the list and is set to have a big summer. He makes his beats with old school drum and bass influences and touches and dabbles of dubstep and trap. It’s damn near impossible not to dance for this.

Solovox – Piano extraordinaire and beat maker. Carl Solovox knows how incorporate his refined piano skills and put them to use on a synthesizer. He’s been known to remix some classic rock and roll (Johnny Cash, AC DC, the list goes on) and always creates a dance party of epic proportions.

Barisone – Master of silk and smooth. Barisone has become a household name in the Portland community with a steady working relationship with FAK Wednesdays and Bubblin. His music is grounded in hip hop and R&B and will change what you thought you knew about the word “sexy.”

Device Grips – straight up dance funk – full band! The (relatively) new Portland band, Device Grips are making their name quickly with blues infused horn-heavy funk with a little bit of rap n’ roll to create some of the liveliest music out there. Don’t be the person that has to tell people a year from now that you missed this set because you were trying to get a burrito (nothing against burritos, but trust me on this one).

Lovebomb Go-Go Marching Band – One of the most extravagant acts you’ll see, ever. This band hails from outer space, I assume, given their space helmets and vibrant clad of silver linings that make up their uniforms. Who knows what they’re going to pull out for a festival like this?

Other notable local artists include: Chrome Wolves, Lincoln Up, Mr. Wu, Takimba, Trashcan Joe, PRSN, Tyler Tastemaker, Deafmind, Octaban, Hal-V & Space Case, Quarry, Laura Lynn, Computer Pham, Diablo, and Montel Spinozza.

Moral of this story: Get your tickets to What the Festival and try and catch every one of these!

-Colin Hudson


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