What better way to launch our first US blog with a festival review! I had heard a lot about What The Festival (abbreviated to WTF) through friends and industry people. So I decided to check it out and along with two buddies started the mammoth drive from San Francisco to Dufer, Oregon (about 1.5 hours from Portland, Oregon)
3 years ago, this festival officially kicked off and has quickly grown to 4000 people, a great number as it's not too crowed. You feel instantly at home, as the site is well positioned, easy to navigate and not too spread out. To me the heart and the soul of any good festival is not just the music, but those who trade their wares. The trader set-up had a great mixture of art, clothing and accessories from locals to festival staff as far a field as Australia. I loved bumping into some of the crew from Third Eye Pinecones who I know from the festival circuit Downunder. And I also discovered the art by The Welch Brothers, who aren't just fine artists, they take their art to the dance floor with a array of leggings and tee shirts all taken from their original art works.
Our Bill Murray totem pole so we don't lose our friends in the crowd
It's definitely a party festival but much like Burning Man has a great mix of demographics, which I really like in a festival. There's nothing better than watching 50' somethings raving it out in the D floor with kids in their 20's. I had a dance off with a mother daughter duo at Nightmares on Wax, helped a baby boomer pick out a outfit for Saturday night and befriended a great group from Bend, Oregon all of whom I had at least 10 years on. As they say time is only one way if making sense of existence and there is nothing like a festival to keep you young!
Polar Bears migrated from the North Pole especially for WTF!
Musically this festival is almost entirely EDM with everything from Trap to Tech House to Drum & Bass. Live performances by electronic legends Nightmares on Wax, (who are celebrating 25 years in music this year) and Glitch Mob were a highlight, but the daytime pool parties (they've made two awesome splash pools to keep everyone cool during the day) at the Splash Stage were unlike anything I'd experienced at a festival and so much fun! Sunday was most certainly funday, with new comer Anna Langley hitting the decks with her soulful blend of house and Claude Vonstroke and Christian Martin keeping us rockin' at the Dirtybird Pool Party.
Stylus Beats at the OMG Lounge
The Splash Stage where the daytime pool parties were a real hit!
There was a great selection of workshops too and on Sunday I kicked off my day with Bob Marley Yoga by Chris Calarco. I'd never really thought of putting these two together but it worked a treat! His mantra for our practice naturally; "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." I walked up the hill feeling refreshed, relaxed and buzzing about another day exploring this great festival.
Bob Marley yoga with Chris Calarco
Lotus like Zomes by Rob Bell
Glen Boyd, the founder of a What the Festival has obviously picked up a thing or two from his days helping run the theme camp Zanzibar at Burning Man. WTF had a feel that it was carefully crafted and the organisers had put a lot of thought into what works and what doesn't. I found it incredibly hard to fault anything. Given that the land is privately owned it would have been great to see some composting toilet infrastructure. There's a distinct lack of that at any of the festivals I've gone to across the west coast of the US this summer. Hopefully this will change and I'd love to see WTF leading that change, as it really was my only criticism.
This is the last festival I attended before I head to the UK for festival season there. I wanted to go out with a bang and WTF certainly was a phenomenal experience. It's not often I attend the same festivals year after year, as I always try to do new ones, but WTF is definitely on the calendar for next year and is well placed to become an annual favourite for many.
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