Having gone to some of the largest music festivals in the year such as Ultra, Coachella, and Sasquatch, you would think we made it out to Las Vegas for the infamous Electric Daisy Carnival. Think again.

After receiving an anonymous tip to travel to Eastern Oregon for a smaller-scale, more intimate festival, I said “why the hell not”, so I left my rave gear and daisy crown at home and hit the road for Wolf Run Ranch in Oregon.  Festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis Gathering ect. have always been on my “hit-list”, however I have yet to attend a festival of that same family, until today.

To try and promote an electronic music festival on the same weekend as EDC must have been complete hell, however, they still managed to sell out. What separated What the Festival from any other commercial festival like EDC is not only the unique crowd they consistently draw in, but the type of music they chose to showcase.

Festival Amenities Highlights:

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Splash Pool- Picture MTV’s Spring Break of 1992 except the pool Is knee deep and T- Pain is nowhere to be found. From 11 to 6 this pool was the only stage playing music throughout the day. At this stage we grooved all day to artists like DAKTYL , Lane 8, Anna Lunnoe, and Pumpkin. Most of which said that was their favorite stage to play at all tour.

Silent Disco- Under the largest disco ball in the North West, two DJ’s battled head-to-head every night for the audiences favor. In this silent disco, you could change the channel of your headphone that corresponded to each of the two performers so you can be on the same ‘wavelength’ as others.

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Illuminated forest- Coming into this festival I expected it to be mainly about the music. I stood very corrected. To call What The Festival’s presentation of art as an exhibit would be an understatement. To my surprise there was an entire loop that took an hour or even more to see and interact with the dozens of pieces they had to offer. Practically every station had an interactive portion to it. Whether it was hanging out in a two-story tree fort to watching dozens of murals being painted, there were pieces everyone could vibe with. The best part about the illuminated forest was how different it was from day to night. At night, every piece lit up and added another psychedelic aspect to the interactive art.

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Artist recap:

Friday:

Two Fresh- The first act of our weekend set the pace for the entire festival. These two brothers from Los Angeles threw down dirty trap and remixes of Kanye West, A$AP MOB and plenty other rap artists.

Eprom- One of the best sets of the entire weekend. He came on stage, immediately grabbed the mic and awkwardly said “I’m just going to play some originals and remixes for you guys”, and that’s exactly what he did. Opening with a remix of Kanye West’s “all day” and eventually dropping his iconic “M.A.A.D. City” remix made me realize that Eprom’s style is indescribably unique to the genre of trap.

Keys and Krates- As I rolled over to the main stage I was fairly surprised to see this group was playing instruments rather than a typical DJ set. I’ve seen many groups incorporate instruments into their electronic sets, some are very successful and some would have been better off sticking to the decks. Keys and Krates blew me away. Their instruments gave them a lot of versatility to control the crowd with their banging tracks.

Griz-  the SAXiest artist I’ve ever seen. His set attracted one of the largest crowds to the main stage of the weekend. He dropped electro-funk all night, peaking with his immensely popular track “stop trippin”.

Saturday:

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Sweater Beats-  Hands down the best show of the entire festival. The 27 year-old from Maryland dropped his sweet and savory tunes throughout the set but kept the crowd on their feet all night resorting to hip- hop, bass, and tracks that the entire crowd could sing along to like Flume’s remix of Disclosure’s “Me & You”.

STWO- Having never heard of this artist prior to his set I didn’t expect much, especially after Sweater Beat’s breathtaking set. STWO played everything from disco house to hip hop to trap. At the height of his set, he remixed A$AP FERG’s work into an experimental bass track that had everyone hyped because neither I nor many in that crowd had heard that song in a few years.

Tokimonsta- I’ve seen this girl over four times. Each set of hers is completely different ranging from downbeat vibes like her albums to knock-your-socks-off trap and house. Her set at What The Festival was mainly hip-hop based, playing Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and A$AP FERG while still playing the groovy songs we know and love like “Go With It” and “Darkest Dim”.

Great Dane- After writing a review for his new self-titled album, I had much anticipation to see him live in action. Surprisingly, he didn’t focus his set on entirely his music, but still keeping the crowd lifted and wide awake through his 2AM set.

Sunday-

Thomas Jack’s Pool Party- Advertised as is on the Line-up poster, Thomas Jack himself spun tropical house and party music for two whole hours as the splash stage was practically overflowing. Playing his unforgettable tracks like his remix of “Little Talks” and “The Final Speech” had the crowd… well, as the kids call it, “on one”.

Slow Magic- One of my favorite live performances to see. The energy Slow Magic brings to the crowd is impeccable compared to any other artist. Through the use of live drums (and upgrade to a full LED multi-color mask) he is able to control the tempo of the concert in a more visually appealing fashion.

Soulection Presents: The Sound of Tomorrow- Record label Soulection hosted their own showcase featuring the Whooligan , insightful, and iamnobodi as they ran an entire stage for four hours as they all played sets back to back to back playing the best of their label including Carmack, Sango, hip hop and funk galore.

Most played: Les Djinns –  Mr. Carmack

Favorite Memory: Drinking and sharing stories backstage with (from right to left) STWO, HOODBOI, Great Dane, our friend Alex, Sweater Beats, and DAKTYL.

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