Last weekend, 65,000 EDM fans gathered in the summer heat for a day of stellar summer sets by some of the best artists of the moment. The festival was headlined by The Weeknd, Jack U, The Chemical Brothers, Dillon Francis, Ratatat, and many more. This year, the sold-out festival, which was held at the Pomona Fairplex, was a huge success and one of the best events I’ve been to this year.
Because of the heat, I spent a lot of time in the beer gardens and indoor areas, but that was just me. Festival attendees who weren’t afraid of the sun and a nice tan, were found raging hard at the stages and exploring festival grounds. Security was relatively quick and easy with little to no wait both days. On Saturday, my group got to the venue around 1 PM so we took the opportunity to go on a ride while the lines weren’t too long before heading to catch our first set of the day: Mija. The Green Stage, though indoors, heated up quickly as the crowd shuffled in for Mija. I didn’t think that the stage wouldn’t fill up as it was still early in the day, but I was wrong. Mija’s set was as good as expected. She played a lot of her own songs and kept the crowd grooving the entire time.
After Mija we set off for the Hard stage to meet up with some friends in the beer garden and chill for Bro Safari, The Glitch Mob, and Tchami. After Tchami, I headed over to the beer garden at the Harder Stage for Odesza and chilled out to some groovy tunes for a while there. The stage was crowded and soon the beer garden filled up too. As much as I love kicking it in the beer gardens which still offered pretty decent views of the stages, the one complaint for this festival was the sound. For a festival that has such a killer line up and claims to be all about the music, the music was hard to hear. I totally get noise regulations and all that jazz, but if you’re really all about the music then please turn it up! Many festival attendees felt that you could only hear the music if you were up close to the stage in the crowd which obviously isn’t the ideal place for every attendee (like me). Regardless, the sets were good and the vibes were great thus far. A few from the group wandered off to catch Griz and his sax then we ended the night with group favorites: Porter Robinson and Dillon Francis. Porter took us on a musical journey as usual with amazing visuals and a killer live show complete with fireworks. Dillon also hyped up the crowd and seemed to have a little something to say about the sound quality at the festival too dropping “Feel the Volume” as soon as they turned him down just a tad. Being the joker he is, Dillon ended his set with a nude of DJ Snake which was the talk of the festival the next day.
Sunday was surprisingly more crowded than the previous night (and a little more ratchet). I got there a little behind schedule and missed Jai Wolf as security had blocked off the entrance to that stage about 10 minutes into his set. Disappointing, but whatever I’m sure there will be another chance for us to catch Jai Wolf. Instead, we headed off to check out the Smirnoff tent. That was a great decision as the tent was air conditioned and shaded. Thankfully, everyone in the group was over 21 so we spent a bit of time in there before I tried to take a cup of fresh ice with me outside. Security didn’t allow for a cup of plain ice to be taken outside, but I was getting sassy in the heat so I took a handful and handed the empty cup back to the security guard to toss for me. I just thought that in weather conditions like this, security should have been more understanding of this because heat stroke is a real risk especially with all the partying that goes on at festivals, but maybe I was just being a princess.
We made it back to the beer garden at Hard Stage in time for Jauz, who drew a decent sized crowd that afternoon. Jamie XX, however, played an eclectic set at the Pink Stage with experimental sounds which I loved. We killed some time at Wax Motif while waiting for What So Not and I was pleasantly surprised as Wax Motif got me up and moving even during the day. Can you tell? I’m that girl who is ALWAYS kicking it at the back of the stage…in the shade…just grooving a bit. It says a lot that Wax Motif got me dancing a bit more than usual. We ended Sunday at the Hard Stage again catching Zed’s Dead, RL Grime, and Jack U. I absolutely am a fan of Sonny, but I’ll applaud Diplo if he was getting up to leave the stage any day. Diplo has his merits, but what was that whole thing about him laying on the floor in the middle of his set anyway? Regardless, I stuck it out through Dippy’s shenanigans and was rewarded by CL gracing us with her presence performing “Dirty Vibe”. To beat the traffic, we left shortly after seeing CL. Apparently I missed Justin Beiber performing with Jack U, but personally I would’ve been more disappointed if I missed CL. Oh well, beating traffic was a win as I heard horror stories of other friends being stuck in the lot for hours.
I spent a good portion of this festival socializing and realized after the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to the sets as much as I would’ve liked – mainly because I wasn’t getting lost in the music. Maybe I would’ve felt differently had I been surrounded by booming bass and entrancing melodies, but I was near the back or in the beer garden for most of it where the volume was a bit lower so that could be why. Overall the festival delivered amazing music as promised. And despite the heat and the crappy volume, this festival is in my top 3 this year. The organization and layout of the festival were as good as it gets, with a nice flow of foot traffic that wasn’t hard to navigate. It would’ve been nice to have more shaded areas, but no festival is perfect and parking of course is always a hassle, but overall the Fairplex is a way better venue than last year’s venue at Whittier. I guess when you’re in good company with great music, the little things don’t bother you too much. See you all at DOTD!
Photos by: Kelcey Rodriguez & Daniel Kim